It’s quiet and smooth enough at routine cruising speeds, but under high loads you certainly know you’re driving a craggy, no-nonsense sort of vehicle. Subaru’s latest horizontally opposed 2.0-litre turbodiesel produces plenty of power and torque, but it is the motor’s enthusiasm for revving through the mid-range that pleases the most.
The gutsy powerplant suits the XV’s character well; like the car itself (or a working dog), it must be continually stretched if the brightest side of its temperament is to see the light of day
Working the diesel Subaru to 60mph in a hurry – completed in a highly respectable 8.9sec – is not the chore it would be in more than one of its big-name competitors. Use the amusingly clunky six-speed manual – which stoutly refuses to shift between ratios in one smooth motion – to keep the flat four on song and it delivers sturdy bouts of acceleration through the meat of the rev range.
Almost all contemporary small-capacity turbodiesels suffer from some low-rev lethargy, but below 2000rpm the Subaru engine too often allows turbo lag to transport it into an unco-operative sulk.
The 138bhp Volkswagen Tiguan we tested managed 30-50mph in fifth gear in 7.8sec; the XV took a truculent 12.4sec. There’s a bit of a dearth of energy, too, at the top end of the rev range, beyond 4000rpm. So flexibility remains a problem for Subaru’s diesel specialists.
While the 2.0-litre diesel is undoubtedly the engine of choice in the XV, a petrol is offered: a 148bhp 2.0-litre powerplant. Like the diesel, it’s a boxer, so the off-beat warble comes as standard.
The 2.0-litre petrol is a couple of thousand pounds cheaper than the diesel, but around a second slower to 62mph.
For 2018, Subaru has heavily revamped the XV with 80 percent of components being modified for the new XV over the current naturally aspirated engines. The chief difference is that the units are lighter than before meaning fuel economy is improved alongside power output and overall refinement.