What strikes me more than anything is: XV is what Forester used to be – a substantively pumped-up Impreza. Same footprint – but a bit over five inches higher. It’s compact and affordable. Just right for active lifestyle adventuring – but not proper blue-singlet off-roading.
It’s typically Subaru – well built, good ergonomics, and an easy to understand range – four variants with one powertrain. New Global platform – that’s the fundamental architecture. A two-litre Boxer four and a CVT with Symmetrical AWD.
The EyeSight safety system is brilliant. If you care about your loved ones – you really do want EyeSight. Don’t scrimp on this – it’s only $2400 more, and you get a bigger touch screen and dual-zone climate air thrown in. It’s a no-brainer.
EyeSight also adds adaptive cruise, which is just awesome. So good on the freeway – the car automatically adapts to congestion, slows down and maintains a safe following distance, then speeds back up. You’d never go back.
The weight is within 100kg of Impreza. It’s the same powertrain. Therefore: Very similar performance. Basically line-ball with other strong two-litre petrol SUVs – the 2.0-litre Sportage and Tucson, and the 2.0-litre CX-5.
XV keeps up in traffic and on the highway. It’s reasonably quiet and it goes where you tell it to go.
Perversely the boot space is smaller even than Impreza (310L versus 345 on Impreza) and just to get the volume in perspective (a lot of people think SUVs are bigger because … SUV) the new i30 is 345 litres.
Subaru only provides a space-saver spare, which is kinda at odds with the wild adventuring this vehicle is otherwise so well set up to accommodate. And I don’t know why they do that – the other SUVs (Forester and Outback) see fit to run full-sized spares). It seems an odd choice.
This begs an obvious question: All things considered, then why not just buy an Impreza hatch?
Same powertrain. Same parking lot footprint. Impreza even holds more luggage. But it’s a close thing. One reason might be ground clearance. The other might be your mobility. The extra height – 135mm or 5 inches adds both. So if you want to traverse rough roads, XV is going to be a better option, and if you have a bad back or a bung knee – ditto. Getting in and out is just going to be easier.
Subaru added X-Mode to extend the all-terrain envelope. It chills out the throttle response at low speed to minimise the chance of you provoking traction-sapping wheelspin. Hardens up the limited-slip diff and also sharpens up brake response.
This is all for the slippery stuff, under 40km/h. Under 20: HDC – you take your feet off and let the computer manage that, and just steer. It’s a real plus when traction is low – if you want to avoid becoming a toboggan – which – trust me, you do.