Few car makers are as individual as Subaru, probably best known for its ground-breaking but affordable small 4×4 estates at one end and high performance rally winning sporting saloons and hatchbacks at the other.
So their arrival in the burgeoning Crossover sector had to be taken seriously and the Subaru XV really is a very good package at a sensible price and deserves to be on your list of comparisons when looking for an SUV.
The mid-sized boxer engine and the six-speed gearbox hanging off the back keep the centre of gravity low and this helps the handling in addition to the 4×4 drive.
As a horizontally opposed engine it does make a bit more noise than a conventional in-line four cylinder engine but that’s not done Porsche any harm over the years and its not an unpleasant sound.
The power was a little hesitant coming through from standstill in the test car but once rolling it packed a punch, pulled well and had a good set of ratios for overtaking before settling down to a relaxed motorway speed.
The diesel engine returned a very good figure on test and even when pushed only dipped to the mid-40s, so it is potentially a very economical car to run.
We thought the clutch travel was a bit long and not very progressive before it took up the chosen ratio but the throttle was smooth and the footbrake highly effective with good feedback. The parking brake securely held it on our regular test slope.
Secondary controls were spread around stalks and buttons on the steering wheel, over the centre console and lower fascia with large clear instruments for the driver to see infront or on the console carrying the info-tainment system.
Temperature controls were effective throughout the big cabin and backed up by powered windows and big sunroof.
For oddments you had a lot of places to put things but some of the compartments were on the small side. The rear bootspace nominally took just 380 litres, which is smaller than some rivals, but it rose to 1250 litres with the back seat down (right).
As I said, once you got going the acceleration came on strongly and in mid-range overtaking it was brisk while the grip was reassuring and stable on bends. You really need the standard reversing camera on the SE Premium as there is a big blind spot to the rear when reversing.
In fact, visibility is not the strong point about the shape of the Subaru XV. The back window is small while the roof pillars are thick, the front wipers do a reasonable job but I thought the headlights were a bit short-sighted and lacked power.
Modest engine noise apart, the Subaru XV was generally quiet on the road with only bad bits of tarmac being heard but rarely felt because it rode smoothly.
Despite its good ride, it did not roll around bends but was quite neutral and level in handling and that’s a good point. This and its permanent four wheel drive means its an ideal car for wintry roads needing a light foot on the pedal.
You ride high in the Subaru XV and I know that is welcomed by a number of drivers so you can see over many hedges and the roofs of vehicles to observe and anticipate traffic, conditions and hazards.
It may not be a regular player but this Subaru deserves to be in the first fifteen of your choice.
|Subaru XV SE Premium||Price: £26,995|
|Insurance Group: 27E||Mechanical: 147bhp 1998cc 4-cyl, 6sp manual|
|Max Speed: 123mph||0-62mph: 9.3sec|
|Combined MPG: 514mpg on test||C02 emissions: 141gkm|
|Bik rating: 23%||Warranty: 5yrs/ 100,000 miles|
For: Passenger room, handling, economy
Against: Rear visibility, nominal boot space, acceleration from rest