From £26,4656
The Subaru XV is a clear step up from the previous model, with impressive off-road ability, but no diesel option could stunt sales success

What is it?

Subaru’s modern portfolio makes it seem like the firm's iconic WRC exploits happened a very long time ago. However while niche high-performance models may now be a rarity, since the manufacturer ramped up its SUV focus in 2012 its sales records have been broken each year.

The Japanese car maker’s latest SUV, the Subaru XV, is significant because it – along with the new Impreza – will be built on the new Subaru Global Platform which will underpin Subaru’s important wave of new models.

The XV is a new car from the ground up, with this new platform, revised engines and transmission, as well as a fresh design inside and out in an attempt to make it competitive in a tough class in a way that the previous model never was.

What's it like?

Dynamically, the revisions have made it much sharper to drive than its predecessor. Our time with the car was restricted to a short test track and an off-road route, so its on-road behaviour remains to be judged, but on track the stiffer chassis makes it noticeably more agile than the previous model. Turn in is especially crisper, body roll is well controlled and the steering has a good weight to it, although feedback remains limited.

The naturally aspirated 2.0-litre boxer engine has had 80% of its parts redesigned and is said to be more efficient (we are still waiting for official numbers to see by how much), but while it feels more urgent in its acceleration it still doesn’t feel quick. There's no longer a manual option, but the new CVT is 7.8kg lighter than the previous unit and keeps progress relatively smooth (you’re better off keeping it in auto rather than using the paddle shifters to cycle through the seven simulated gears). However, the engine still revs very harshly under heavy acceleration. In normal driving it’s pretty hushed, and refinement is generally better for the new car. Other SUVs – such as the Seat Ateca and BMW X1 – ultimately offer a more polished driving experience and a better choice of powerplants.


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Subaru isn’t offering its previous 2.0-litre diesel variant with this car, so you have this or a smaller 1.6-litre petrol to choose from. It’s a shame, and seems odd, because the old diesel unit was our favourite for the car, and it’s gutsier than this petrol. The platform can take a diesel unit, we’re told, so if there is sufficient demand then Subaru would consider offering an oil-burner.

Thrashing round a track is unlikely to be high on the priority list for the standard XV buyer. More likely, the SUV will have to drag its way through a muddy field – and it’s very well prepared for that. Like all Subarus – apart from the rear-drive BRZ – the XV gets all-wheel drive as standard and now has ‘X-Mode’, which optimises the AWD system for slippery surfaces and includes hill descent control. It’ll go farther off-road than most rivals, and that helps the XV stand out in a crowded class of style-over-substance competitors.

Inside, it gets a much-needed update that has banished the button-heavy dash in place of a slicker touchscreen infotainment system set up with better quality materials. We don’t know precisely what equipment will be offered, or even what trim levels will be available, but Subarus are typically kit-laden at every level so you can expect the 8.0in touchscreen as standard. We do know that all models will get Subaru’s automatic emergency braking system, ‘EyeSight’, and the Japanese model scored exceptionally highly for crash testing in Asia, so it’s likely that it will also impress with Euro NCAP.

As for space, there’s masses of leg room in the rear, but the boot is a little more paltry.

Should I buy one?

While it is undoubtedly better than its predecessor, UK specification and pricing are yet to be announced so it’s hard to be definitive on where the XV lies among its current rivals. Its improved dynamics and genuine no-nonsense off-road ability give it a fighting chance of broader interest, although a lack of a diesel option could hamper its success in the UK.

Subaru XV 2.0i Lineartronic

Location Vienna, Austria; Price £25,000 (est); On sale February 2018; Engine 1995cc, 4cyl, petrol; Power 154bhp at 6000rpm; Torque 145lb ft at 4000rpm; Gearbox CVT Kerb weight 1920kg (est); 0-60mph 10.2sec (est); Top speed 116mph (est); Economy 44.4mpg (est); CO2/tax band 140g/km/27% (est); Rivals Nissan Qashqai, BMW X1

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14 July 2017

But looks great a nice interior honest car good value.Whereas elsewhere on the site  ahemmm

14 July 2017

may well be the making of this car given the current backlash


14 July 2017

More interesting than a Qashqai, and more capable in some ways, but probably less polished in other ways. I'm not sure the lack of diesel is anything like as important now as it used to be. Economy is still OK. I would prefer the option of a bit more power, though. 154 BHP isn't really enough for a vehicle that weighs close to 2 tons.

14 July 2017

... because as a review this is too limited: no road assessment, and no final spec or price. Not sure of the relevance of the Ateca/X1 nod, as this seems to be a different beast - a bit of refinement and polish sacrificed for genuine off-road ability: certainly the photos look impressive. Lack of a diesel may affect sales but is at least topical; I think light-pressure turbo versions of the petrol engines would give the grunt required in this type of vehicle and keep consumption sensible.

14 July 2017

Looks quite good though not sure who would buy it. 

I guess Subaru know their buyers and have targeted them but shame the petrol doesn't have more ooomf and that there sing a manual. 


14 July 2017

Not quite the same angle of review that I see from our cousins across the water who've had this car and the Impreza for a while now. Thgey love them!

Still, when it gets here and I'm ready to change cars, I'll give it a work out. And if I like, can afford and live with it, I'll buy it. Who knows, Subaru may actually listen to potential customers and car magazine reviewers and turbocharge the engine. There are companies in Australia and New Zealand who retro fit turbo's and superchargers to the pre 2018 XV's!




15 July 2017

Surely a error? Seem to remember the last one was light.

15 July 2017

Officially (in markets it is already on sale) this 2L petrol is 1474 to 1484kg depending on wheels and equipment.  

15 July 2017

That's the weight given by autocar for the 2016 diesel version. I've always liked these.

15 July 2017

Shame about the rubbish gearbox. Sort of hampers its off road credentials. I have always been a subaru fan because of their inherent ruggedness, but could not buy one of these as the power/drivetrain is not correct for me.


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