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Andrew Chesterton road tests and reviews the new Subaru XV 2.0i-S with specs, fuel consumption and verdict.
Different can be a very, very good thing in the homogenised world of car design, but it's a fine line. Too different (we're looking at you, Citroen Cactus) and your new product will be left languishing in dealer lots.
But there's clearly something to be said for swimming against the tide in the same-same world of new cars. Take Subaru's XV, which has proven a welcome slice of different in the small car segment - and a sales hit for the brand as a result.
Less a small SUV and more a jacked-up hatch-cum-wagon, and with generous ground clearance, the XV is just about the only vehicle in its class that genuinely looks ready for action. Add to that Subaru's standard all-wheel-drive system and the XV goes some way to living up to that image.
Tested here in top-spec $35,540 2.0i-S guise, sitting above both the 2.0i and 2.0i-L in the three-model line up, the XV isn't the cheapest offering in the world of small SUVs, but it arrives with a stylish look and some clever technology to sweeten the deal.
The 2.0i-S is offered with a manual ($33,040) and - as tested here - a CVT automatic ($35,540) gearbox, and arrives pretty comprehensively equipped.
With a single engine and 17-inch alloy wheel size offered across the range, Subaru makes up the difference with added extras to justify your bonus spend on the top-spec model. Expect a nav-equipped 7.0-inch touchscreen paired with a six-speaker stereo up front, and multiple USB and 12-volt charge points scattered throughout the cabin.
By far the toughest looking compact SUV, the XV looks ready for action.
Leather trim, heated front seats and proximity unlocking with push-button start arrive as standard, too, as do rain-sensing wipers, dusk-sensing headlights, halogen DRLs and an electric sun roof.
Springing for the top-spec model also changes the look of your XV, with chrome inserts on the door handles and window surrounds, integrated indicators in your wing mirrors and alloy pedals inside.
The XV 2.0i-S scores the same engine as the rest of the XV range, a 2.0-litre ‘boxer' unit good for 110kW at 6200rpm and 196Nm from 4200rpm. The engine is paired with your choice of CVT automatic or six speed manual gearbox and sends its power to all four wheels.
That engine does enough to push the circa-1.4 tonne XV to 100km/h in a fairly lethargic 10.7 seconds (10.5 in manual guise) while sipping a claimed/combined 7.0 litres per hundred kilometres, though we returned 11.2L/100km after a week of mostly urban driving.
By far the toughest looking compact SUV (and, thanks to the noticeably empty space between the tyres and the wheel arches, the only one that looks remotely capable of any off-road work), the XV looks ready for action. The 2.0i-S sits on black-and-silver 17-inch alloys, while standard roof rails, an integrated rear diffuser and liberal use of black cladding all add to a sense of athletic purpose.
Outside, the grille is sharp and aggressive, with two fog lights that protrude from their casings and a 3D-style Subaru badge that pops out of the body work. The pop-up book theme continues with the headlights, that sit above the metal.
Inside, the look and feel is more rugged than sporty, with orange stitching on leather seats and gear knob, along with a splash of piano black gloss and silver highlights. The dash itself is calm and simple, with three silver-framed air-con controls that make a quality-sounding click as you turn them. Finally, the touchscreen is recessed - including its key buttons - into the soft-touch dash.
The small SUV segment is not one traditionally dripping with excitement, and the Subaru XV is unlikely to change that reputation. Instead it's comfortable, capable in the city and offers enough technology to keep you entertained.
It's comfortable to sit in, easy to drive and offers good vision.
With no adjustment for the gearing, steering and accelerator settings, and no adjustable drive modes to cycle through, life behind the wheel of the XV 2.0i-S is a simple point-and-shoot affair. Keep it within the CBD, and it cruises along smoothly and easily, but push for something more and you'll uncover a distinct lack of power, exasperated by a hard-working (and noisy) CVT that fails to get the best from the engine. Things improve at 60km/h and up, but the climb from 30km/h to 50km/h is glacial.
But it's comfortable to sit in, easy to drive and offers good vision. The steering, if a little dead in terms of feel, is nicely weighted, and the key controls are exactly where you want them to be. The suspension leans toward the firm side but that helps create a connected feeling with the road below, with the tall XV not given to body roll in normal driving.
Most welcome, though, are the tech additions. The touchscreen is clear and easy to use, the phone pairing function painless, and the benefit of dual screens allows the critical driving information to be displayed on the top screen, freeing the bottom screen for music or navigation instructions.
At 4450mm long, 1780mm wide and 1615mm high, it might not offer the same outright space as some of its bigger rivals, but Subaru's engineers have included plenty of thoughtful touches in the XV that help boost its practicality.
Front seat passengers share two cupholders hidden beneath a slide cover, with a sizeable space in the front door pockets for bottles and other loose items. There are two 12-volt charge points and a single USB plug, too.
Backseat riders share two cupholders, hidden in the pull-down divider in the backseat. The dual USB charge points are a nice touch for those in the back, too.
The boot opens to reveal three tether points, as well as shopping hooks, while a full-size spare is hidden under the cargo compartment. Total luggage space is pegged at an underwhelming 310 litres with the 60/40 rear seats in place, growing to 741 litres with the rear seat dropped.
The XV offers two ISOFIX attachment points, one in each window seat in the back.
Every XV is equipped with seven airbags (dual front, dual front side, curtain and driver knee), along with Subaru's 'Vehicle Dynamic Control System' which includes ESC, ABS and traction control.
The XV range has been awarded the maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating.
The XV range falls under Subaru's three-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty, and requires a trip to the service centre every six months or 12,500kms. It's also covered by the brand's capped-price servicing scheme, with services capped for the first three years or 75,000km. Current pricing pegs the first six services at $2,245.
|2.0i||2.0L, ULP, CVT AUTO||$20,972 – 25,990||2016 Subaru XV 2016 2.0i Pricing and Specs|
|2.0i SPECIAL ED (PURE RED)||2.0L, ULP, CVT AUTO||$22,985 – 27,990||2016 Subaru XV 2016 2.0i SPECIAL ED (PURE RED) Pricing and Specs|
|2.0i-L||2.0L, ULP, CVT AUTO||$20,990 – 29,490||2016 Subaru XV 2016 2.0i-L Pricing and Specs|
|2.0i-S||2.0L, ULP, CVT AUTO||$22,500 – 28,999||2016 Subaru XV 2016 2.0i-S Pricing and Specs|