What is it?
This is the new, second-generation model of the Subaru XV, the Japanese brand's smallest SUV, sampled in Europe for the first time ahead of UK sales beginning in January 2018.
You know what you’re going to get with Subaru, and there are no surprises here. The XV combines all-wheel drive, boxer engines and boxy design, as pretty much all of its predecessors have since the brand arrived in the UK three decades ago. As such, it will seem reassuringly familiar to the company’s small but loyal customer base, although it will likely struggle to exert a broader appeal among more lifestyle-ish crossovers.
No matter: Subaru is keen to stress that the XV should still be considered a proper off-roader rather than a pretend one. As such, it has good ground clearance, permanent all-wheel drive instead of a part-time system and hill descent control as standard. That’s enough to stand out as something close to a USP in this segment these days.
Although its design looks very similar to that of the old XV, this car is almost entirely new, in terms of structure at least, sitting on the same Subaru Global Platform that underpins the new Impreza. As such, it's stronger and considerably safer than its predecessor, having recently received one of the highest NCAP scores recorded to date.
The mechanical side of the package is more familiar. There are only two engines to choose from, both naturally aspirated petrol boxers. Subaru’s soon-to-die horizontally opposed diesel won’t be offered. The entry-level 1.6-litre has just 110bhp, while the 2.0-litre makes a more respectable 151bhp.
A six-speed manual gearbox is offered in some markets, but it won’t be coming to Europe, with a CVT automatic our only choice. Apparently, this is because the manual won’t work with Subaru’s active safety Eyesight system, a vital part of that NCAP rating.
Prices start at £24,995 for the 1.6 SE and rise to £28,495 for the range-topping 2.0 SE Premium.