Kia Seltos 2023 review: GT-Line long-term | Part 3
To paraphrase a (traditionally pretty naughty) saying, it's not so much the size that matters in the new-car world, but more what you can do with it.
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Changing the name of a popular model of car is always risky. Remember when Mitsubishi switched to the ‘380’ moniker for its final Magna? It didn’t go so well…
So, when Subaru Australia announced that it would adopt the global ‘Crosstrek’ name for its third-generation XV crossover, it didn‘t come without risk.
However, any concern about buyer confusion seems to be unfounded. A quick look at the latest sales figures proves buyers weren’t spooked at all.
Given how popular the XV has been in previous generations, it was a no-brainer to add the new Crosstrek to CarsGuide’s long-term fleet. And so I collected a 2.0R in early August and it will be my main mode of transport for the next three months.
So, what’s different about the Crosstrek compared with the old XV that was around for six years?
While it is a new-generation model, you couldn’t call the Crosstrek ‘all-new’. That’s because it shares the same 'Subaru Global Platform' as the XV, as well as all other Subaru models barring the Toyota 86-twinning BRZ coupe.
It also carries over the same two powertrains as the XV. That includes a hybrid, as well as the engine powering our press car - a 2.0-litre four-cylinder naturally aspirated petrol engine, offering up outputs of 115kW and 196Nm.
It is paired with a continuously variable transmission (CVT) with an eight-speed manual mode operable via paddle shifters. As with all Subarus (again, except the BRZ), the Crosstrek comes with Subaru’s all-wheel drive system.
The power and torque figures don’t exactly inspire confidence when it comes to acceleration and speed generally. When it comes to taking off at the lights, it’s surprisingly responsive. So it’s a solid car for zipping around town, but out on the open road it’s less confident.
Accelerating at speed is somewhat lethargic, and the four-pot engine struggles under load, particularly up hills. The engine noise, combined with the CVT, isn’t the nicest.
However that confidence returns when you remember the all-wheel drive traction. Especially on the wet and wintry streets of Melbourne.
I will detail how the Subie drives in the next instalment of my long-term review, but early impressions are mostly positive, beyond the limitations of the powertrain.
On that, we recorded a fuel figure of 9.7 litres per 100 kilometres, up on the 7.2L/100km official combined cycle claim.
Despite Subaru being seen as one of the more premium mainstream Japanese brands, the pricing for the XV was always fairly reasonable.
It copped a price hike or two in its final couple of years on sale, so when the Crosstrek landed, the entry-grade 2.0L had only gone up by $1800 compared with the XV, which is not unreasonable for a new-gen model change.
The Crosstrek range kicks off from $34,990, before on-road costs. Our test car is the 2.0R, which is a mid-spec petrol grade, and it costs $38,490.
There’s also a Crosstrek 2.0S that sits at the top of the model grade pile, and two hybrid grades - L and S - that add $3600 to the price of the petrol equivalents.
There was no ‘R’ grade in the XV so it’s hard to compare price changes, but looking at the very healthy spec sheet, it’s clear it represents strong value for money.
Standard gear in our 2.0R includes 18-inch alloy wheels, self-levelling, steering-responsive auto LED headlights, power-folding and heated door mirrors, roof rails, front LED fog lights, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, leather steering wheel and gear shifter (the wheel is plastic in the base 2.0L), heated front seats, ‘premium’ cloth seats, sports pedals, and a 10-way power adjustable driver’s seat.
That’s on top of other equipment like an 11.6-inch tablet-like multimedia display, wireless charging, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, USB-A and -C ports (including in the rear), and a six-speaker audio system.
Subaru has been talking up its 'EyeSight' driver assistance suite for many years now, making improvements and iterations that have made the systems function better.
It’s a lengthy list and includes adaptive cruise control, emergency lane keep assist, lane centring function, lane departure warning, auto emergency braking and steering, speed sign recognition, pre-collision throttle management and more.
The 2.0R adds to this suite with a front view monitor, auto high beam assist, and a panoramic 360-degree monitor.
When you look at rivals, there’s no shortage on offer in Australia. The small SUV segment is heaving, and some new arrivals have made it a tough choice for buyers.
Lining up closely with the Crosstrek 2.0R are the freshly launched Hyundai Kona Premium 2WD ($39,500), Kia Seltos Sport+ AWD ($39,300), the Mazda CX-30 G25 AWD Touring ($40,710), Nissan Qashqai ST+ FWD ($37,890) and the Toyota Corolla Cross GXL 2WD ($37,730).
Subaru is never going to win any design awards for its interiors. You’d struggle to call them pretty, but they sure are functional.
Again, I will go into more detail in next month’s review, but the chunky look of the dash isn’t super visually appealing - nor are the graphics on the large tablet-style multimedia touchscreen - but it is robust. There’s a sense of quality and durability to the materials used throughout the cabin.
There’s nothing premium about the cabin but it is very comfortable and you feel protected from the outside world.
But if you need to carry a decent amount of cargo the Crossrtek might not be for you. It can swallow just 291 litres in the boot with all seats in place. That’s impacted by the all-wheel drive architecture and the space-saver spare wheel - better than a tyre repair kit!
But it’s still very small by small SUV standards. The CX-30 has 317 litres and petrol Corolla Cross grades can handle 414L.
But a small SUV is about more than just its boot. So stay tuned for my next instalment for more on the 2024 Subaru Crosstrek 2.0R.
Acquired: August, 2023
Distance travelled this month: 439km
Average energy consumption this month: 9.7L/100km
Based on new car retail price
Based on new car retail price
Based on new car retail price