Mazda CX-3 Akari 2017 Review
Mazda's baby SUV, the CX-3, has been nothing short of a sales sensation since its release almost two years ago. But competition is getting hotter, and Mazda has given the CX-3 range some attention.
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Subaru is a small SUV in the same way that I'm Usain Bolt; we both technically belong to the same species, sure, but there are a couple of sizeable differences. The ability to run 100m without a single rest stop, for example.
And so it is with the Subaru's XV, which stands light years apart from the regular small SUV crowd. For one, it's bloody massive, trending closer to a mid-size SUV than it does a tiny Mazda CX-3. Plus, it's not really an SUV at all, looking much more like a high-riding wagon than a traditionally shaped urban warrior.
All of which goes some way to explaining why this all-new 2018 model appears - looks-wise, at least - near-identical to the outgoing car. If it ain't broke and all that.
But we figure there must be some new stuff going on under the surface, so we climbed behind the wheel of the top-spec 2.0i-S to take a closer look.
|Subaru XV 2017: 2.0i-S|
|Fuel Type||Regular Unleaded Petrol|
It's more of the same, this new XV, with the 2018 model retaining the ready-for-action looks of its predecessor. Highlights outside are the 3D-effect, black-on-silver 18-inch alloys, and the black-cladding that runs along the entire bottom half of the car, giving the XV a kind of toughness.
It still has that angrily cubist design theme, and it can feel a bit plasticky in places, but it looks powerful and capable from just about every direction. Side-on, it's still more wagon than SUV, and the silver roof rails are a little reminder that you can actually use this car for more than city transport.
The interior is great, too. The doors are a mix of perforated and smooth soft-touch materials, with a sprinkling of faux carbon fibre and elaborate cross-colour stitching throughout the cabin. And if that sounds a little busy, it somehow just works in the new XV.
Pretty damn practical. The XV 2.0i-S, with its wagon-cum-SUV shape, strikes a best-of-both-world balance between on-road dynamics and load-lugging practicality.
To put its 4465mm length, 1800mm width and 1615mm height into some sort of perspective, the segment's best-seller, the CX-3, measures a diminutive 4275mm, 1765mm and 1550mm respectively, and you can feel the extra space at work in the XV.
Up front, the orange-stitched seats are big and comfortable, though they could be more figure-hugging around the hips. There are two cupholders that separate the front seats, and there's room in the front doors for bottles, too.
The auxiliary, power and dual USB connections live in a little storage space under the climate controls, and the central storage bin between the seats is big and deep, and home to another two USB connection points and a 12V power source.
Climb into the backseat and space is ample. Sitting behind my 174cm driving position, there is miles of room in front of my knees. Head space is good, too, with a strange kink in the roof that dips between the first and second row of seats, but climbs again to give backseat riders plenty of clear air.
Better still, you can definitely fit three humans across the rear - although the middle rider will be splaying their legs over the central tunnel. If you choose to go two-up, the backseat divider houses two extra cupholders, joining room in the back doors for bottles.
There are no air-con vents back there, though, and while backseat riders don't get easy-reach USB or power connections, they can use the set in the central storage bin that separates the front seats. There are two ISOFIX attachment points, one in each window seat in the back.
Step around to the boot and you'll find a useable enough space (310 litres, seats in place, and 765 litres with the rear seats dropped) along with a space-saver spare hidden under the flat-bottomed storage area.
The $35,240 2.0i-S is the top-of-the-tree choice in the XV family, sitting above the 2.0i-Premium, the 2.0i-L and the entry-level 2.0i in the range.
And it's plenty well-equipped for the money. The seats are a leather-trimmed cloth (and heated in the front), and technology is covered by an Apple CarPlay/Android Auto-equipped 8.0-inch touchscreen in the centre of the dash. It pairs with a six-speaker stereo, and sits below a second, 4.2-inch LCD that can be configured to display everything from the safety systems at work to navigation (also standard) instructions. It takes a moment to get used to looking at different screens, but when you do, the setup works brilliantly.
Elsewhere, expect 18-inch alloy wheels, remote unlocking with push-button start and automatic lights and wipers, as well as dual-zone climate control and a sunroof.
There's just the single engine on offer in the XV range, including in the 2.0i-S, and that's a 2.0-litre, four-cylinder "Boxer" engine that's good for 115kW at 6000rpm and 196Nm at 4000rpm. It's paired with an automatic CVT, sadly, and sends its power to all four wheels.
The XV 2.0i-S will sip seven litres per hundred kilometres on the claimed combined cycle (though we were using 11.3L/100km at the conclusion of our test). Emissions are a claimed 159g/km of C02.
The XV's 63-litre tank accepts the cheaper 90RON fuel.
Calling something a Jack of all trades is one of those things that sounds like a compliment, but actually rarely is. In short, it means something does lots of things adequately, but nothing truly spectacularly. Take a Porsche 911, for example; it's good at exactly one thing - going very fast - and it does it with an uncompromising focus, so taking one to Bunnings would be a very silly idea.
But the exception to that rule is the XV 2.0i-S, which is a Jack of so many trades we lost count, some of which it's really very good at indeed. It is super practical, will swallow humans and cargo with ease, it's well equipped, and offers plenty of safety stuff. Better still, it's dynamically pretty sound, too.
Yes, practicality is the main game here, but drivers won't feel like they're swapping space for fun in the XV.
The XV is riding on Subaru's new global platform (the same that underpins the Impreza), which injects a little small-car athleticism. There's a lovely weight to the steering, too, but it doesn't feel quite as sharp as some of its smaller competitors, feeling a little top-heavy through corners.
Downsides? The engine feels a little anaemic up hills (though you wouldn't accuse it of feeling under-powered, necessarily), and like most CVT setups, it gets noisier with every push of the accelerator. So if you have a heavy right foot, you'll create a drone that drains the cabin ambience.
Yes, practicality is the main game here, but drivers won't feel like they're swapping space for fun in the XV. Well, not all the time, anyway.
3 years / unlimited km warranty
ANCAP Safety Rating
The standard safety kit on this top-spec XV is truly impressive, and starts with the dual front, front-side, curtain and driver's knee airbags, as well as a reversing camera.
The most expensive XV is also the only model to receive Subaru's Vision Assist pack, which includes blind-spot monitoring, lane-change assist (which warns you if a car is accelerating into the space you're about to lane-change into) and rear cross-traffic alert.
All of which adds up to a maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating.
The XV range is covered by a three-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty, and requires servicing every 12 months or 12,500kms. Subaru's capped-price servicing program sees maintenance costs limited to between $348 and $757 per service for the first five visits to the dealership.
The Subaru XV remains a solid pick in the small-car segment, especially for those looking for something just a little different to the norm. And while the top-spec 2.0i-S isn't particularly cheap, you'll want for little in terms of technology and safety, and you won't be required to splash out on the option list, either.
|2.0i||2.0L, ULP, CVT AUTO||$16,000 – 22,330||2017 Subaru XV 2017 2.0i Pricing and Specs|
|2.0I Premium||2.0L, ULP, CVT AUTO||$19,200 – 26,730||2017 Subaru XV 2017 2.0I Premium Pricing and Specs|
|2.0I Special ED (pure Red)||2.0L, ULP, CVT AUTO||$18,000 – 25,080||2017 Subaru XV 2017 2.0I Special ED (pure Red) Pricing and Specs|
|2.0i-L||2.0L, ULP, CVT AUTO||$18,000 – 25,080||2017 Subaru XV 2017 2.0i-L Pricing and Specs|
|Price and features||7|
|Engine & trans||7|