From £18,165
If a five-seat family car that prioritises a grippy chassis over comfort appeals, then Subaru's XV might fit the bill

Our Verdict

Subaru XV
Rugged XV works off road but not well enough on it to earn broad appeal

The Subaru XV is a no-nonsense crossover that doesn't quite make enough sense on the road

  • First Drive

    2016 Subaru XV 2.0D SE review

    Subaru has updated its Qashqai rival, but do the tweaks make it any more credible as a competitor to Nissan's class-leading success?
  • First Drive

    Subaru XV Hybrid first drive review

    Subaru’s XV Hybrid is a compact 4WD crossover with a difference, not to mention its greenest car yet
8 December 2011

What is it?

The Subaru XV is a five-seat, lofty driving-position family hatch with a raised ride height and all-wheel drive as standard.

Pitched at the Nissan Qashqai/Hyundai iX35 genre, the Subaru XV hopes to add a dash of sportiness to a class where practicality, comfort and a quality cabin combine as the winning formula.

Suspension is struts at the front and a double-wishbone arrangement at the rear with Subaru’s 50:50-split all-wheel drive system, including a central viscous limited-slip, as standard.

There are three Boxer engine choices — a 144bhp 2.0-litre diesel, 147bhp 2.0-litre petrol and 112bhp 1.6-litre petrol. The 2.0-litre units are mated to a six-speed manual as standard; the 1.6 gets a five-speeder. Remarkably, manual transmissions also come with a mud-plugging low-ratio transfer box as standard. A CVT auto is optional on both petrols.

Subaru will launch next April with the 2.0-litre units; the 1.6 arrives in the late 2012.

You also have to look at the XV — shorthand for Cross Over — as a thinly-disguised replacement for the Impreza hatch. In fact, strip off the cladding and drop the ride height and the XV is next year’s Impreza.

What's it like?

The driving bias is towards grip and cornering power, rather than comfort and everyday usability, which will satisfy some drivers. But the bulk of buyers will find the lumpy low-speed ride, noisy bump-thump over broken road surfaces and fidgety motorway progress unsettling.

Pleasingly, the XV steers faithfully and can be placed accurately on the road, although there’s not much feedback through the wheel rim. Particularly impressive is the manner in which the AWD resists understeer in all models. The conclusion is that the chassis could take more power, although Subaru says that more powerful engines, particularly a circa-170bhp diesel, still aren’t on the horizon, nearly three years after its revolutionary Boxer oil-burner was launched.

The pick of the engines is the delightfully revvy 2.0-litre Boxer diesel, although the thrumming 2.0-litre petrol runs it a close second. Unfortunately, the 1.6-litre Boxer is woefully underpowered and has to be worked at high revs to extract performance. At least it makes a pleasing noise when extended.

The Boxer diesel we drove also had a disconcerting background drone and radiated a surprising amount of noise outside the car. Subaru says it is considering beefed-up noise insulation, both inside the cabin and under the bonnet, to counter this.

Visibility is excellent, courtesy of remarkably thin A-pillars.

Rear legroom is also good. Inside, the plastics and interior design are a huge step forward over the hard fittings in the old Impreza. But the competition has moved on, too, leaving the feeling that the XV lacks flair and quality. Another area that needs attention is the front seating, which lacks support from both the side bolsters and under-thigh.

The 380 litre capacity boot is a shallow shape and the target market of families, probably encumbered with young kids, will surely struggle to accommodate the masses of gear that inevitably go with that territory.

Should I buy one?

If a five-seat family car that prioritises a grippy chassis over comfort and interior quality appeals, or if you live in an area where AWD is essential, the Subaru XV might fit the bill. But there are other more rounded, and more keenly-priced competitors that will prove much easier to live with day-to-day.

Subaru XV 2.0D

Price: £26k (est); Top speed: 123mph; 0-62mph: 9.3sec; Economy: 50.4mpg (combined); CO2: 146g/km; Engine type: 1998cc, 16v 4cyl horizontally-opposed Boxer turbo-diesel; Power: 144bhp at 3600rpm; Torque: 258lbft at 1600-2400rpm; Gearbox: Six-speed manual

Join the debate

Comments
25

9 December 2011

What a confusing car!

Okay, so it's a large hatch to go head to head with the likes of the Qashqai and Peugeot 3008 but it is fitted with some quite anaemic engines (what is the 1.6 all about in a car this size?) and it costing an estimated £26,000 despite the fact the ride and interior quality is below class standard.

I like Subaru's and I like the idea of this car but it needs to be at least £6000 cheaper before it can even think about competing in the UK. And that's a real shame.

 

 

It's all about the twisties........

9 December 2011

I like this car, should be perfect on the snow. Maybe here among the Alps it could replicate the success of the first generation Forester, whose later versions have grown too much.

9 December 2011

[quote TegTypeR]

What a confusing car!

Okay, so it's a large hatch to go head to head with the likes of the Qashqai and Peugeot 3008 but it is fitted with some quite anaemic engines (what is the 1.6 all about in a car this size?) and it costing an estimated £26,000 despite the fact the ride and interior quality is below class standard.

I like Subaru's and I like the idea of this car but it needs to be at least £6000 cheaper before it can even think about competing in the UK. And that's a real shame.

[/quote]

The XV is expensive compared to Peugeot and Nissan competition, this is very true, but it offers more offroad capability for sure, it comes with low-ratio transfer box as standard.

9 December 2011

I really like this car. Along with Subaru's fantastic reputation for reliability, the boxer diesel engine should mean that it will be bombproof. Sure, it's a tad expensive, but it's a relatively economical, practical, rugged and powerful family car. What's more, it appears to have some character.

9 December 2011

It's not that big Teg. It's a Quashqai rival so a modern 1.6 isn't that unusual in a car that size is it? Gutless by the sounds of it but so are most 1.6 engines in a modern car with all the weight they have to lug around.

On a side note, I seem to be the only one I know who thinks the current Impreza shape is half decent. I think the hatch version of the STI looks much better than the new saloon version.

9 December 2011

autocar just doesn't seem to like subaru these days. petrolhead journalists used to rave about the original imprezza and forester. then subaru grew up, effectively ditched the rallying image, and now nobody likes them.

www.KOOOLcr.com

 

9 December 2011

[quote kcrally]autocar just doesn't seem to like subaru these days. petrolhead journalists used to rave about the original imprezza and forester. then subaru grew up, effectively ditched the rallying image, and now nobody likes them.[/quote]

I don't think it is that at all.

The issue has been the increase in prices. Think back to the original Impreza and how good a value it was for the performance. Now the bang per pound argument doesn't work for them and the rest of the package doesn't stand up to the scrutiny that the price point brings.

 

 

It's all about the twisties........

9 December 2011

[quote TegTypeR]I don't think it is that at all.[/quote]

Me either. They just don't seem to have competitive products any more. Let alone ones that are fun or decent looking. The elegant and likeable Legacy and Outback estate models from 3-4 years ago seem a distant memory these days.

I quite like this XV, it's an area they need to be in to survive, but that boot is 100 litres too small - it's barely bigger than a Kuga's. The styling's a bit odd side on but way better than their recent offerings.

It does look expensive, though, even when you factor in the added usability off-road. Afterall, who in this class will be using it for that? When you consider what Mazda have managed with their clean-sheet CX-5, for what they'll be charging, it makes this XV look a little dated already.


9 December 2011

[quote TegTypeR]Okay, so it's a large hatch to go head to head with the likes of the Qashqai and Peugeot 3008 but it is fitted with some quite anaemic engines (what is the 1.6 all about in a car this size?) and it costing an estimated £26,000 [/quote]

Just look at the Golf fitted with a 1.2 petrol engine, or the 2.0 diesel costing £22k plus but no four wheel drive and no low ratio transfer box. I reckon £26k is a reasonable price for a Japanese made 4 X 4 hatchback of that spec.

9 December 2011

[quote Maxycat]Just look at the Golf fitted with a 1.2 petrol engine, or the 2.0 diesel costing £22k plus but no four wheel drive and no low ratio transfer box. I reckon £26k is a reasonable price for a Japanese made 4 X 4 hatchback of that spec.[/quote]

If you are in the market for a genuine 4x4 with a low ratio box, then yes, it could be considered as a good price (in fact I can't think of anything close as far part of it is concerned).

Realistically though, how many of us would ever use the lower ratio's? Very few I would think. Taking that out of the equation for the moment and using your comparison of the Golf, put the two back to back and there are two key areas (for the price) this car would fall flat - interior trim quality (and trust me I am not a fan of the Golf's to begin with) and the economy / power of the engines.

Start comparing it to say an IX35 with 4 wheel drive (where this car is aimed) which at list tops out at £21,145 then the Subaru's argument becomes even weaker.

 

 

It's all about the twisties........

Pages

Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • Car review
    23 September 2016
    Aston kicks off its ‘second century plan’ with an all-new turbo V12 grand tourer
  • Ford Ka+ 1.2 Ti-VCT 85
    First Drive
    22 September 2016
    A rounded, refined and well-sorted bargain supermini – once you’re used to the confusing role redefinition imposed on the once-cheeky Ka
  •  Maserati Ghibli Diesel
    First Drive
    22 September 2016
    Maserati releases another range of updates for its range best seller, the Ghibli. We've driven the diesel version, but there's little improvement on before
  • Tipo Front
    First Drive
    21 September 2016
    New Fiat Tipo offers impressive space and practicality for a reasonable price. We try the 1.6 diesel on the demanding roads of North Wales
  • Seat Ateca 1.4 TSI 150
    First Drive
    20 September 2016
    The Seat Ateca 1.4 TSI 150 makes perfect sense: it's spacious, tidy to drive for an SUV and cheap to run