We like Subaru. Precisely why we like it though, has become harder to say. The brand’s recent efforts have been as mixed as a bag of Revels, both in quality and direction.
The XV is a case in point, being the right car for the moment and not without charm - yet outclassed, outthought and outperformed by the opposition in myriad ways.
Subaru’s solution, as idiosyncratic as ever, was to turn up to Geneva with two new XV’s: the current model’s facelifted replacement, and an entirely new version, due in around 18 months. The former is promised to have some of the chassis polish missing from the original, and has had a brush-up inside - but in appearance, is much the same lumpy prospect it was before.
The new one though, dressed up with exotic lights, mirrors and wheels to look like a concept, is an entirely different prospect. Where the scent of agribusiness special lingers over the current model, the show car honestly wouldn’t look out of place on a VW Group stand. It is raked, tapered and chiseled into shapeliness; a modern, handsome crossover from nose to tip.
No-one would call it innovative - but for a manufacturer that built and launched the Forester, it is a quantum leap forward. It gets better too, because underneath the XV is an all-new global platform; the same one which will underpin the latest Impreza, approaching its debut in New York later this month. It is also so close to production now that the shape you see in the pics (minus the silly brightwork) will be the one you find in showrooms come the end of next year.
Sat next to a Levorg, it ought to look tremendous. How did Subaru suddenly go from clunky A to sculpted Z? Well, success in other parts of the world probably hasn’t hurt. The brand will shift over half a million cars in the US this year; worldwide, it expects to breach a million. Retaining and growing its crossover customer base (the industry’s most spoilt for choice) is now critical, and if the forthcoming XV drives as well as it looks, Subaru might also earn some significant success in Europe. Finally vindicating our affection would be nice, too.