‘Luxurious’ is a term that requires qualification when you read it in a Subaru brochure. Although it’s easier to accept in a car with a more obvious workaday appeal, the XV’s cabin reinforces the impression that the Japanese manufacturer still has much to do to match European material quality standards.
Getting into the XV requires no stooping. With seat frames taken from the Legacy, the car’s squabs are a little higher above the cabin floor than they would be in an Impreza, which makes for a slightly more upright but still fairly recumbent, hatchback-like driving position.
Legroom is more generous than in most family hatchbacks, but headroom isn’t. We measured 40mm less headroom in the front row and 20mm less in a Hyundai i30 hatchback. Both the Peugeot 3008 and Qashqai are roomier passenger cars. In the same vein, the XV’s boot is no larger than that of many more ordinary family hatchbacks.
There is two trims to choose from - SE and SE Premium. Entry-level cars come with automatic headlights and wipers, 17in alloy wheels, roof rails, electric windows and heated wing mirrors fitted as standard on the outside. Inside there is dual-zone climate control, cruise control, heated front seats and Subaru's Starlink infotainment system complete with 7.0in touchscreen display, a reversing camera, Bluetooth and USB connectivity.
Upgrade to SE Premium and the XV gains sat nav, keyless entry and start, a leather upholstery, electrically adjustable driver's seat and a sunroof.
Heater and air-con controls are easy to use and there’s plenty of storage. The unconvincing mishmash of different types, shades and grains of plastic around the cabin won’t impress anyone giving up a good European hatch, though this was improved in the 2016 upgrade.
Neither will some of the ergonomics. The central multi-function display that’s standard on all SE models relays its trip computer information clearly. But you could drive for days without chancing across the seat heater switches, for example, which are hidden away behind the handbrake.