What is it?
The new Subaru XV is the firm's first billion-dollar car. That’s not what you’ll pay for it – the latest XV is expected to start at around £23,000 – but it’s what this admirably individual Japanese car company has spent developing its new Subaru Global Platform (SGP).
SGP will provide a solid foundation for all future Subaru models. And very solid it turns out to be, with the XV achieving the highest-ever rating in Japan’s recently toughened NCAP tests, scoring 199.7 out of 208 points.
Among the many features contributing to this is a crash structure capable of absorbing 40% more energy than previously and the latest evolution of Subaru’s EyeSight driver assistance package of pre-collision braking, adaptive cruise control and lane keeping assist.
Other SGP benefits include torsional rigidity gains of 70-100% over present models, an even lower centre of gravity (by 5mm) than the boxer engine layout already afforded, more rigid suspension mountings, a 50% bodyroll reduction and improved off-road ability.
What's it like?
More obvious than any of this, however, is the substantial improvement in the fit, finish and ambience of the XV’s interior. There needed to be, admittedly, since this has long been a Subaru weak point, but the result is nevertheless pleasing. The XV’s interior is now an environment you can enjoy in its own right rather than as a black, plasticky place from which to access Subaru’s more physical talents.
As a crossover, the XV aims to be big on the more down-to-earth elements of these physical talents than a Subaru Impreza WRX. And it immediately registers a few points with its exceptionally roomy interior for both rows of passengers and their luggage. You also get all-wheel drive as standard, an 8.0in infotainment screen, the aforementioned EyeSight features, torque vectoring and the same generous 8.7in ground clearance as before.
You also enjoy improved refinement (to the point that the direct injection 2.0’s four-cylinder boxer beat has almost been expunged, disappointlngly). But performance is decent rather than memorable.