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Tim Robson road tests and reviews the 2016 Subaru Levorg GT with specs, fuel consumption and verdict.
There have been a lot more since then, and none were more loved than the fourth-generation Liberty of the early 2000s. It’s still the company’s best selling car.
Unfortunately, the latest Liberty is available as a sedan only, leaving the load lugging to the high-riding Forester and Outback lines. Until now, that is… meet the Levorg, the oddly named but well-proportioned street wagon from Subaru.
Cloth trim, a 6.2-inch touchscreen with reversing camera, Subaru’s excellent third-generation EyeSight stereo camera detection system and a leather-trimmed steering wheel come standard, along with tinted rear glass, 18-inch rims and push-button start.
It misses out on automatic lights and wipers, even though the headlight switch can be left on permanently without draining the battery.
Option packs are limited to a towbar back that retails for around $1528 fitted, or a trim and mat set for $629. No extra is charged for paint choices.
From the B-pillars forward, the Levorg is instantly recognizable as an Impreza derivative, with strong hints of WRX in the front end – we’re looking at you, giant bonnet vent – and headlights.
From the rear doors back, though, it’s all new. The Levorg body style is unique in Subaru’s catalogue, and harks back to the fourth-gen Liberty, at least in its proportions.
It’s not as squared off as other Subaru wagons, with a distinct downward curve in its silhouette towards the rear tailgate. It has a very high-waisted, low-roof profile, made lower and sportier with deep side skirts and a lowered stance.
It’s not as muscular as the WRX, though, which is a deliberate attempt to separate the two on the sales floor.
Subaru says that the Levorg is a toe-in-the-water exercise; coming relatively late in the current Impreza’s life, the Levorg will need to perform in the showroom to ensure a start when Subaru’s new global platform rolls out under the new Impreza by the end of 2016.
Inside, the Levorg again shares similarities with the Impreza and WRX, but manages to create an identity that is all its own.
The hatch area can hold 486 litres with the seats up – bigger than its stablemate, the Forester, by 64 litres – and bigger, incidentally, than that lauded fourth-gen Liberty wagon, despite being a smaller car.
The cargo space increases to 1446 litres with the 60/40 split/fold seats lowered.
The front seats in the GT are wide and flat; even though the intent of the GT is to be more of a civilised daily driver, a little more bolstering through the sides wouldn’t hurt, given the pace and grip of the turbo all-wheel-driver.
There are plenty of practical touches to be found, from the four cup holders front and rear to the bottle holders in all of the doors.
There are a few not-so clever ones, though, including a plethora of controls on the wheel itself that could easily be reduced with some more thought. The multimedia system, too, is starting to show its age, even though it offers access to apps like Pandora.
Another oddity is the roof-mounted sash belt for the rear centre seat.
There are ISOFIX kid seat mounts for the outside rear pews, and a cargo cover for the rear included. A run-flat spare lives under the boot floor, too.
Subaru’s 2.0-litre horizontally-opposed piston (or boxer) turbocharged engine is used in the Levorg, and is in the same tune and spec as fitted to the WRX.
This means 197kW and 350Nm, and a multi-mode throttle control known as Si Drive. Controlled by (inexplicably) two buttons on the steering wheel spoke, it allows the driver to soften or sharpen the engine’s response underfoot as required.
Of the three modes on offer, the middle is the sweet spot, giving the Levorg a little more pep off the lights without making it feel too sharp.
The CVT transmission has an eight-step ‘manual’ mode that can be operated via shift paddles behind the steering wheel. CVTs have a bad reputation for dulling the driving experience, but test this one before you dismiss the notion out of hand. It’s well behaved, quiet and complements the car well.
My initial reaction upon driving the Levorg was ‘ugh, too soft’… but somewhat surprisingly I not only changed my mind as I drove it more, my passengers during the course of our test opened my eyes to the Levorg GT’s true purpose.
Despite its WRX bits, the Levorg GT is not a hotrod dressed up as a wagon.
Over the course of a few 150km trips, the ride comfort and neutral steering of the Levorg provided a more relaxed experience, while the urge of the boxer turbo meant there was power aplenty to overtake and to climb long hills.
I’d still prefer the shocks to be a little bit firmer in their control of the body, though stiffening it too much would spoil the ride quality; only 10 or 15 per cent firmer would be plenty.
Despite its WRX bits, the Levorg GT is not a hotrod dressed up as a wagon. It’s been designed as a daily driver with a bit of punch and a lot of practicality and, driven as such, the Levorg is a great daily companion.
Subaru claims the Levorg GT can achieve 8.7 litres per 100km on the combined cycle, while our 560km of testing netted a dashboard-indicated 9.8L/100km.
The EyeSight camera system is the Levorg’s big safety weapon, with AEB, brake light recognition, pre-collision steering assist, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, lane sway warning, lead vehicle start alert, pre-collision braking system, pre-collision brake assist and even pre-collision throttle management all built into the one system that operates via a pair of cameras at the top of the windscreen.
It can be more finicky than other systems, and can be momentarily fooled by adverse conditions like driving rain, or by a dirty screen in direct sun. This third-generation version is far more refined and sophisticated than the earlier versions, though.
Six airbags, including full-length curtain airbags, are standard as well.
Subaru offers a three-year, unlimited kilometre warranty, and occasionally adds an additional two years as a special offer; definitely worth asking the question at sale time.
The service interval on a Subaru is shorter than most other cars, thanks in part to the boxer engine requiring more frequent oil changes. A six-visit capped price servicing regime for the Levorg GT averages out at about $375 per service, which includes labour, parts and fluids, and even levies like oil disposal fees.
The Levorg might be unusually named, but if you’re after an all-wheel-drive wagon with a bit of solid pace, a comfortable ride and a no-fuss attitude, it’s a good name to get used to.