The Subaru Levorg didn’t really take off like you’d think a sports wagon should. While it didn’t wear the same name, it had a WRX-like nose, powerful motor, tight handling and go-fast bits. Unfortunately, it was expensive, and for lovers of the WRX there wasn’t an option for a manual transmission.
So what we’re looking at here is a relatively dulled-down family wagon that has shades of the WRX upfront still with a tamer engine in a package that’s more affordable. But is Subaru’s smallest engine in the line-up too much of a sacrifice for this Japanese hauler?
The new 1.6-litre four-cylinder boxer is Subaru’s smallest engine in years, though it is turbocharged. Still, it develops almost 75kW and 100Nm less than the 2.0-litre unit and is mated to a notoriously lack lustre CVT transmission.
Powering all four-wheels, the engine produces 125kW and 250Nm that’s reasonably efficient at a claimed 7.4L/100km. We clocked 8.1L/100km that wasn’t far off its claim.
And its priced almost $7000 cheaper than the 2.0-litre version despite coming with some good kit. There are 17-inch alloys under a lightly refreshed face, fabric trim, leather steering wheel, new active LED headlights and fog lights, 6.2-inch infotainment system with sat nav, keyless entry with push-to-start ignition and dual-zone climate control.
It also comes with Subaru Eyesight that incorporates safety technology including adaptive radar cruise control, lane departure warning with steering assist, aeb and a rear-view camera.
If the cloth trim interior isn’t nice enough, the GT Premium starts from $42,890 and adds leather upholstery with electric-adjustable seats, black exterior trims, Bilstein shock absorbers, sunroof, larger infotainment display with better sound system and more.
Largely, it's the same WRX-esque wagon without the huff.
INTERIOR | RATING: 3.5/5
- Standard features: 17-inch alloys, climate control, cruise control, immobiliser and alarm, fabric seats, height and reach-adjustable multi-function steering wheel, remote central locking, keyless entry and push-button start, dusk-sensing headlights, tinted windows.
- Infotainment: Two multi-information displays (driver information, infotainment and communication functions), 6.2-inch display, satellite navigation, Bluetooth/iPhone/USB connectivity and audio streaming.
- Cargo capacity: 486 litres seats-up.
Inside is well put together and the nuts and bolts of it are solid. It feels like the sort of cabin that will take a belting over its years.
The fabric trim seats in the base 1.6 GT are well bolstered and offer plenty of lateral support. This extends to the rear pews which are both comfortable and afford a good amount of space all-round, and because the seats are fixed low on the floor headspace feels airy.
For the driver, the steering wheel has a nice shape and its leather finish feels good to hold. Its multi-function controls are a little overwhelming at first with everything from radio to Bluetooth calls and safety technology controlled from the wheel. But at the same time, once mastered, it’s nice to have so many functions at fingertip.
The infotainment system, at a class-average 6.2-inches across, is clear and simple to use but the lack of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto limit its functionality as the in-built apps are basic. The sound system was clear and punchy though, and the Bluetooth connectivity consistent.
On top of the infotainment is a smaller display to show things like dual-zone climate control settings, reversing camera, fuel status and engine vitals. It isn’t the prettiest design-wise but is safer than looking down from the road.
Practicality inside is good too, with a large centre-console bin and door pockets for swallowing sundry items along with four USB ports – two upfront and two in the rear for the kids.
The boot is a large 486 litres that’s smaller than the Skoda Octavia’s capacious 588L but ahead of SUVs like the 442L Mazda CX-5. The rear-seats are also a handy 60:20:20 split-fold that can be sent down via a switch in the boot next to the 12v socket to create a 1446-litre space.
ON THE ROAD | RATING: 3.5/5
- Engine: 125kW/250Nm 1.6 four-cylinder turbo petrol
- Transmission: CVT, AWD
- Suspension: MacPherson strut (with coil spring) front, double wishbone rear
- Brakes: Front ventilated discs, solid discs rear
The move to a smaller engine is at the detriment of effortless driving but the CVT finds the motor’s sweet spot, where the torque is strong and willing. The result is a little noisy under acceleration but fine for everyday commuting, and there’s enough poke for overtaking even if it isn’t urgent.
Problem is, that under load with adults and gear in the back, the engine can be breathless, so heavy users are better to look at the larger engine size.
If not, the 1.6-litre’s mild power output is fine for an everyday car that can handle a bit of extra hauling on the weekends. The ride tends toward a firm response that’s nicely hidden under the wider profile tyres – 18-inch and larger rims won’t be so pleasant. It should also be noted the Premium variant that adds Bilstein shock absorbers isn’t as cushy.
But they do add some dynamism that's missing from the standard GT, except for its all-wheel drive system that is a boon in wet conditions and something most rivals don’t enjoy with front-wheel only drivetrains.
Inside the cabin road noise is well damped and the Levorg is easy to drive. The steering is well connected and responsive while being light in weight and though this isn’t a driver’s car it can be fun enough to push through some corners.
ANCAP Rating: 5-Stars
Safety features: The Levorg comes with a full suite of dynamic and passive safety features including seven airbags, ABS brakes with electronic brake force distribution, child seat anchor points, reversing camera, hill-start assist forward and reverse, vehicle dynamics control and seatbelt indicator lights.
It is also fitted with Subaru’s Third-Gen ‘Eyesight’ technology that uses stereo cameras to scan the road ahead for obstacles, cars, pedestrians, as well as pre-collision braking and steering assistance, lane sway warning, lane departure warning, blind-spot detection, rear cross-traffic alert, and side-view monitor.
All Levorg models get three-years’ roadside assist and a three-year unlimited kilometre warranty.
WARRANTY AND SERVICING
Warranty: Three years/100,000km kilometres.
Servicing: Below-average six-month or 12,500km service intervals.
RIVALS TO CONSIDER
The new Octavia Sport wagon is front-wheel drive-only but has a more efficient 1.4-litre turbo engine and seven-speed dual-clutch automatic drivetrain that’s just as quick. It also has a more spacious cabin and the infotainment system is newer, with the latest Apple and Android connectivity options.
The cheaper Renault Megane GT-Line gets an even-smaller 1.2-litre engine that’s slower but easy to drive thanks to a small body with deceivingly large 580-litre boot.
The similar-priced new Holden Commodore LT wagon has a gruntier engine with more contemporary interior design that doesn’t feel quite as well put together.
- Skoda Octavia wagon
- Renault Megan wagon
- Volkswagen Golf wagon
- Holden Commodore wagon
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
Looks are subjective but the bones of the Levorg are a good package. The 1.6-litre engine lacks the effortless nature of 2.0-litre models, but it isn’t a bad thing, easing through traffic and the suburbs with some light cargo.
If you’re looking for a WRX wagon with performance cred there are better options further up the tree, but as an everyday wagon, the 1.6 GT is a sturdy choice.
- Interested in buying Subaru Levorg? Visit our Subaru showroom for more information.