Subaruâ€™s well-liked XV crossover is all-new for 2018
The Subaru XV has gained a bit of a global following in recent years. In markets such as America, itâ€™s a strong seller, and to add even further appeal, Subaruâ€™s introduced a new one for 2018 thatâ€™s built on its latest advanced Subaru Global Platform architecture. Amongst many strengths, this gives it the best crash safety rating of any family car you can buy.
Subaru says itâ€™s an alternative to the Nissan Qashqai, one thatâ€™s even handier over challenging terrain due to its standard permanent four-wheel drive and an ample 220mm of ground clearance. Where it canâ€™t match the others is in offering a diesel engine â€“ the only choice is a petrol engine combined with a CVT automatic gearbox called Lineartronic: you canâ€™t buy a new XV with a manual gearbox.
Although this may harm overall sales, Subaruâ€™s not too worried there. Its target is a modest 3500 sales in 2018 across all its models; the XV will comprise around a third of them, and the UK importer believes a loyal customer base means it wonâ€™t struggle to achieve this.
Subaru XV 2.0i SE Premium LineartronicÂ
Engine: 2.0-litre, four-cylinder, petrol
Torque: 145lb ft
Kerb weight: 1439kg
Top speed: 120mph (est)
Theyâ€™ll almost certainly like the carâ€™s appearance, which appears more authentically SUV than some in this sector. It has more ground clearance than rivals such as the Seat Ateca, and features such as big wheels and chunky wheelarches give it a rugged appearance.
Inside, thereâ€™s a big lift in quality and ambience compared to older Subarus. It has a classy eight-inch infotainment screen in the centre and although the layout is still very functional, itâ€™s more premium and appealing. Itâ€™s quieter too: the 2.0-litre engine we tested is appreciably more hushed than the previous car, despite the Lineartronic gearboxâ€™s tendency to send the revs sky-high when you demand full use of its modest power. You can select seven â€˜pretendâ€™ gears, but this doesnâ€™t feel very natural, so itâ€™s best to let it just get on with it.
Subaruâ€™s famed boxer engines give a lower centre of gravity, meaning the XV handles really well. The steering doesnâ€™t have much feel but it is still wieldy and confident in corners â€“ ably blending this with a nice ride that smooths out even broken-up country roads. Itâ€™s a secure and pleasing car to drive, with only too much road noise from those big wheels letting the side down a bit.
Itâ€™s impressive off road as well, far better than any rival â€“ this is intentional, as unlike more mainstream alternatives, Subaru expects a lot of its customers to drive the XV off road, such as across muddy fields. Itâ€™s thus fitted a standard hill descent control to give them a helping hand when the going gets tough.
It also fits Subaru â€˜Eyesightâ€™ safety tech, which will help avoid rear-end impacts by scanning the road ahead and automatically braking if you donâ€™t react to a car stopped up ahead. In tests, it proved genuinely effective.
Because it doesnâ€™t offer a more fuel-efficient diesel, the Subaru XVâ€™s overall appeal is hampered a little at the moment. Bosses hope a hybrid version due next year will help solve this. But for now, it should still have no problem drawing sales from its traditional customer base, whoâ€™ll consider its many strengths in inclement weather and on challenging roads a real boon.
Factor in a big lift in interior quality, and an even more polished overall drive, and the car thatâ€™s proving popular in all markets seems set to continue pleasing its loyal UK buyers too.