Test drive: Subaru XV 2.0i-P

By ahmadzulizwan, 16 July 2018
Subaru XV

The XV sold in numbers, much of it helped by a pricing strategy that seems almost casual (read: massive discounts!). So much so that it’s easy to forget the crossover (I prefer the broader SUV term myself) is a solid package.

There’s plenty of the old car in this new XV; for example the overall jacked-up Impreza shape is the same although the front and tail ends have been given a noticeable redesign. It’s now more angular, the lines more clearly defined giving it a stronger look, for the lack of a better word.

Obviously the car still has its symmetrical all-wheel drive technology that gets power from a naturally-aspirated 2.0-litre Boxer engine. It may seem like the old engine but there’s enough done to it to be new: the direct-injected unit is now 12kg lighter, achieved by engine innards that are roughly 80 per cent new.

The real change is from its use of the Subaru Global Platform, which claims to make body roll and shake lesser. Those are qualities best proven by driving the XV to its limits, something owners are unlikely to do, but what I definitely picked up from the test drive is the car’s much improved ride quality. In fact, its comfort level is now much more similar to the Forester, which I rate highly.

Subaru XV

It’s not just the about how the suspension and chassis absorbs road imperfections, it’s equally how road and tyre noises are kept outside. In short its refinement has gone up like Elon Musk’s Falcon Heavy rocket. There’s little to hear from the CVT gearbox under normal acceleration too, not that the volume gets annoyingly loud in spirited use either.

Again, I can’t help to compare this to the Forester, which is a good thing. It’s one of the most bang-for-buck vehicles in the market for comfort, cabin space, refinement and ride quality. The XV may not have the same amount of suspension travel, thus ultimately limiting its off-road capabilities (if that matters at all), although now with X-Mode – like in the Forester – it can do better if required. It is also still an economical drive. Getting 500km from that 63-litre fuel tank is quite normal (plus impressive) taking into consideration its heavy and complicated AWD powertrain.

Subaru XV

There are more things that make it better than the Forester too, at least until the latter gets updated. The double-DIN entertainment unit looks more visually cohesive with the cabin. It’s also faster, with bigger virtual buttons on its 8-inch touchscreen. In addition, the rear view camera works better in low light and the parking brake lever has been replaced with an electronic switch.

AWD or 4x4 in an SUV is no longer the selling point it used to be in my book because buyers have established the fact that it’s hardly ever needed; it also makes the vehicle expensive and more complicated to maintain. Trucks is what you need for the tough stuff anyway, or SUVs in the vein of Land Rovers.

Still, Subaru’s Symmetrical AWD system is a class of its own. It has always been one of the brand’s core qualities, this time around wrapped around a more complete package. If the company can add a turbo yet still maintain the cars drivability and efficiency, this will be a gem. Not to say the XV is far from it.

Verdict (9/10)

Solid build quality, solid powertrain, high drivability factor; it may be a bit pricey compared to rivals, but worth the price.

SPECIFICATIONS

  Engine    1,995cc, Boxer 4cyl, AWD, 156ps, 196Nm
  Transmission    Lineartronic CVT
  Price    RM129,788 (without insurance)
  Weight    1,559kg