What is it?
The Subaru Levorg represents a Japanese manufacturer once highly rated for its estate cars returning to heartland territory: this, in short, is an indirect replacement for the Legacy estate. Except that it wouldn’t be much like Subaru to be either normal or predictable – and so, true to form, it’s chosen to try something different.
Smaller than the Legacy it succeeds, the Levorg addresses a demand that the Legacy came to neglect as it grew old. It’s a proper sport tourer – an estate-turned-sporting-GT, roughly in the mould of the old Legacy Spec-B.
Only roughly, though, because instead of a burbling flat six, the Levorg is powered by an all-new 1.6-litre turbocharged flat four petrol engine with relatively modest outputs. The only drivetrain option is a Lineartronic CVT automatic, sending power to all four corners via a clutch-based four-wheel drive system.
There is also only one trim level as far as UK buyers are concerned: £27,495 ‘GT’ specification, which gets you LED headlights, 18in alloys, a partly leather-upholstered cabin and a 7.0in touchscreen infotainment system, making what is already a car with a niche market appeal even more left field than it otherwise would be.
What's it like?
Inside, the Levorg is nice enough in parts but still sufficiently plain and plasticky elsewhere to prevent it from presenting a really tempting alternative to a premium-brand car.
The car’s seats are large and comfy, its black leathers detailed with unusual blue stitching that’s more appealing on the eye than it may sound. Soft-touch mouldings border those leather surfaces to pleasingly tactile effect in most high-level places, but at lower levels the Levorg’s plastics are quite hard, shiny and unappealing. The instruments look crowded, with the fuel and temperature gauges being hard to read. And while Subaru’s Starlink touchscreen infotainment set-up looks good and works well, its split trip computer screens remain hard to fathom.
The Levorg’s second row offers adequate passenger space but nothing outstanding: there’s enough space for two large adults, just. The boot is a good size, though, all 522 litres of it up to the window line, beating plenty of similarly sized wagons. The boot is child’s play to expand, too, with 60/40 split rear seats spring-loaded for easy – and completely flat – folding.
To drive, the Levorg is pacey and moderately good fun at times, albeit undeniably muddled. Underneath the Levorg lies a platform and a goodly chunk of suspension hardware donated from the WRX STi sports saloon – and you certainly know it by the way the car rides and handles.
But while it’s fairly quiet and measured on smooth roads, there’s a heaving firmness about the ride over uneven B-roads that’s a bit unsettling to begin with. The car’s damping, though progressive, is ultimately uncompromising, doing a good job of keeping the wheels on terra firma at all times but making the car pitch and heave unsympathetically over bigger bumps. After a while, you realise that the lack of rebound control isn’t actually going to compromise the car’s stability – it’s just a characteristic of the firm, long-travel suspension. Thereafter, the way the car bounds from crest to crest becomes quite endearing.