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.
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.