Honing the design of the XV is a bit like asking your tailor to sew a more sculpted waist into an old mac. But though looking dandy isn’t perhaps this car’s biggest selling point, it is at least fairly handsome.

The windscreen is now more steeply raked and the rear section of the roofline has been lowered, Subaru claiming this has had no adverse effect on interior space. The front of the car is far less benign than it was, too, with chrome trim making way for black, and more severe angles almost everywhere you look. All in all, it’s a good effort.

Matt Saunders Autocar

Matt Saunders

Road test editor
In tune with the needs of its customer base, the XV gets proper roof rails, with plenty of clearance between roof and rail for ease of fastening items in place.

The greatest change is hidden from sight, however. After the Impreza, this is the second car to be built on the new and remarkably strong, billion-dollar Subaru Global Platform, which is said to be tremendously stiffer than that of the outgoing XV, with a 70% increase in torsional rigidity. It’s a platform to which either a 1.6- or 2.0-litre boxer engine is fitted, with Subaru’s SAWD driveline defaulting to a 60:40 front:rear torque split.

Tellingly, there are no diesel options coming to the UK, and it’s the larger petrol engine tested here, with conservative maximum outputs of 154bhp and 145lb ft delivered through a Lineartronic CVT gearbox touting seven supposed ‘speeds’.

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It’s the viscous coupling-equipped, full-time four-wheel-drive SAWD driveline that’s so integral to the appeal of the XV, and in terms of specification it makes a muddy mockery of many soft-roader crossover rivals. Subaru’s X-Mode and Hill Descent Control manipulate power distribution using the engine, gearbox and brakes to maintain traction on steep, slippery surfaces.

The XV also comes with the latest iteration of Subaru’s EyeSight safety technology, which the firm says has been responsible for a 40% reduction in the accident rate of Subaru vehicles in Japan. The kit includes lane-keep assist and emergency braking.

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