Despite arriving as something of a pioneer in the small SUV segment, the Subaru XV now faces plenty of opposition from strong-sellers like the Honda HR-V, Mazda CX-3, and Toyota C-HR.
To counter those rivals, the 2018 XV has arrived in Australia sharing its new Subaru Global Platform with the Impreza hatch it’s based on, bringing a lower centre of gravity and claims the new model is more fun to drive while still maintaining its moderate off-road ability.
Subaru has also upped the ante on safety adding its stereo camera Eyesight safety system with lane keeping assist, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, autonomous emergency braking and more to all but the entry-level model.
Vehicle Style: Small SUV
Price: $27,990-$35,240 plus on-road costs
Engine/trans: 115kW/196Nm 2.0-litre 4cyl petrol | CVT automatic
Fuel Economy Claimed: 7.0 l/100km
The 2018 Subaru XV arrives in Australia with a four-variant range that aligns with the Impreza family.
All four are powered by the same engine and transmission, in this case a rather conservative 115kW 2.0-litre naturally aspirated petrol four-cylinder and CVT automatic which spells an end to the availability of a manual transmission for the XV.
Pricing for the entry-level 2.0i starts at a comfortable $27,990 plus on-road costs making it cheaper than before, but loaded with 17-inch alloys, smart key entry, touchscreen infotainment and a reversing camera.
The 2.0i-L adds the EyeSight safety system, climate control and a larger touchscreen for $30,340 plus on-road costs. The 2.0i-L Premium adds a sunroof and built-in satellite navigation to that list from $32,140 plus on-road costs.
Opt for the top-of-the-range 2.0i-S and leather trim, heated front seats, a powered driver’s seat, LED headlights, and 18-inch alloy wheels join the standard spec sheet for $35,240, still undercutting its predecessor by $300.
2.0i: Fabric seat trim, manual air conditioning, cruise control, multi-function steering wheel, 17-inch alloy wheels
2.0i-L: Premium cloth trim, dual-zone climate control, leather-wrapped steering wheel, power-folding mirrors,
2.0i-L Premium: Electric sunroof
2.0i-S: Leather seat trim, heated front seats, powered driver’s seat, auto-dimming rearview mirror, steering-responsive LED headlights, 18-inch alloy wheels
Infotainment: 6.5 or 8.0-inch touchscreen, AM/FM/CD player, USB input, Bluetooth connectivity, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatible, six-speaker audio, satellite navigation (2.0i-L Premium, 2.0i-S)
Cargo Volume: 310 litres to rear seats, 765 litres to front seats, 1220-1240 litres to ceiling
Subaru has massaged the XV’s interior dimensions to create a more roomy interior, with particular attention paid to rear seat space and boot capacity.
The new-generation XV also comes with a more premium look and feel to the cabin, particularly in the 2.0i-L and up, which feature funky orange contrast stitching.
The layout of instruments and dials is clear and easy to understand, with additional colour displays for supplementary information displayed either via the instrument cluster display, or the upper screen atop the centre of the dash.
All variants, no matter which infotainment system size, pack in Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, plus voice recognition, Bluetooth connectivity, and for buyers that still mix the old with the new, a CD player.
At the rear Subaru has given the tailgate a wider opening for easier access, and although boot capacity stays the same as the previous model the available space has been reshaped to make it more practical.
Interior storage is well-judged with good room in the centre console and glovebox, generous door pockets, a pair of cup holders behind the gear selector, and a right-sized bin at the base of the centre stack to hold a phone, wallet and keys.
ON THE ROAD
Engine: 2.0-litre horizontally-opposed petrol four-cylinder, 115kW @6000rpm, 196Nm @4000rpm
Transmission: Constantly variable automatic transmission, all wheel drive
Suspension: MacPherson strut front, double wishbone rear
Brakes: Four-wheel ventilated disc brakes
Steering: Electric power steering, 10.8m turning circle
Towing Capacity: 1400kg braked, 650kg unbraked
Subaru has simplified its powertrain range slightly, deleting the manual transmission option, supplying the new XV with a CVT automatic only in line with buyer trends.
The engine is a new 2.0-litre horizontally-opposed four-cylinder petrol unit, producing a modest 115kW of power and 196Nm of torque.
Although it may not be blisteringly quick (at a leisurely 10.4 seconds from 0-100 km/h) the 2.0-litre engine does work smartly with the CVT automatic - a transmission type that cops plenty of flak for its ‘rubbery’ feel - with Subaru’s take on the CVT reducing some of the shortcomings of this type of transmission.
Subaru cites the Lineartronic CVT’s use in the performance-oriented WRX range as proof of the transmissions adaptability and driveability, with the latest version featuring a wider ratio spread for a more spritely lower ‘first gear’ and a taller ratio for better fuel efficiency at cruising speeds.
Structural components as part of the new Subaru Global Platform that underpins the XV result in better body rigidity and improved crash energy absorption, but the changes owners might notice more every day include lower noise levels from the improved structure and additional sound deadening measures.
Ride quality across bigger bumps is exemplary, with dynamic changes including a lower centre of gravity making for a more stable ride with improved roll stability through flowing bends.
Playing around with the multi-faceted latest Eyesight driver assist system on the 2.0i-L, it's easy to be cynical and suggest it was invented for drivers prone to distraction or fatigue. These days, since the advent of mobile phones, the distraction faction has grown exponentially.
But the Eyesight system works well in many real-world situations, particular in the cut and thrust and unpredictability of metro motoring where lane departure warning and others are useful.
Away from sealed surfaces, the XV also demonstrated its very capable on gravel rural roads, where AWD grip and all-round connection with the surface is reassuring.
To assist in off-road adventures Subaru’s new X-Mode system, previously only available on the Forester centralises control of the engine, lock the AWD system into a 50:50 front-to-rear torque split, and uses corrective braking to assist in traversing slippery surfaces without losing traction.
ANCAP Rating: 5 Stars - the Subaru XV scored 35.8 out of 37 possible points when tested in 2017 using test data adapted from the structurally identical Subaru Impreza tested by ANCAP in 2016.
Safety Features: All Impreza models come with six airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners with load limiters, ABS brakes with brake assist and emergency brakeforce distribution, traction and stability control, and a reversing camera.
The 2.0i-L and above also come with Subaru’s camera-based EyeSight safety system which adds lane departure warning, lane departure warning and lane keep assist, adaptive cruise control, and pre-collision braking. The 2.0i-S adds blind spot monitoring lane change assist, rear cross traffic alert, high beam assist, and reverse automatic braking.
WARRANTY AND SERVICING
Warranty: Three years/unlimited kilometres
Servicing: Subaru offers capped price servicing for the new XV for first three years with intervals set at 12 months/12,500km (whichever occurs first) with a further two years of Transparent Servicing Pricing. Over the life of the program servicing costs total $2405 with intervals priced between $349 and $758, your Subaru dealer can provide more information on terms, conditions, and exclusions of the program.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
Subaru has put together a robust and capable crossover that works well in city environments, but also has the technical nouse to tackle slightly more demanding terrain - be it the driveway of a rural bed and breakfast, or perhaps a hobby farm.
More demanding drivers might appreciate a little extra urge under the bonnet, but Subaru insists its target audience doesn’t see the need for more power.
It’s the comprehensive safety suite (on the 2.0i-L and up) and mobile connectivity that buyers identify with the most, and for those reasons, plus the XV’s pleasant dynamics and high levels of comfort, it should continue to rack-up plenty of sales in the small SUV sector.