What is it?
This is the new Subaru XV e-Boxer and, unfortunately, there are absolutely no points up for grabs for guessing what that little ‘e’ might stand for.
With practically every other manufacturer under the sun making the move towards electrification it’s not surprising that the star-spangled Japanese marque has followed suit. It might not have been as quick on the uptake, but it doesn’t exactly have the Volkswagen Group’s arsenal of resources (or its market share, for that matter) to call upon.
Speaking of the Volkswagen Group, ever since Dieselgate effectively stripped the Subaru XV of its oil-burning engine, it’s a car that’s been an easy target for criticism, too. Not only were the remaining 1.6 and 2.0-litre normally-aspirated petrol boxer engines particularly asthmatic, but being paired with a CVT gearbox and Subaru’s trademark symmetrical all-wheel-drive system meant they weren’t particularly refined or economical either.
Of course, the XV was - and remains - stable, secure and reasonably comfortable on the road; and is still far handier off it than the average Seat Ateca. But those aforementioned shortcomings ultimately meant it failed to cut the proverbial mustard in the context of the wider class.
What's it like?
Theoretically, this new e-Boxer unit should help to right some of those wrongs. It sees a small 16bhp electric motor (and 118V battery) paired to the existing 148bhp 2.0-litre flat four, which combine to drive all four wheels via a gently recalibrated version of Subaru’s CVT. This makes driving the XV on electric power alone a possibility, but don’t assume this is a bonafide Toyota-style hybrid powertrain.
In fact, the instances where you rely on electricity for forward propulsion are fairly fleeting. Keep your speed below 25mph and all but remove your foot from the throttle and you might be successful in achieving a few seconds of electric drive. Even from step-off the combustion engine will kick in after mere metres - and kick in it does. There’s a noticeable shunt from the driveline as the engine sparks to life and the CVT flares its revs in anticipation, before you set of in the usual slightly noisy fashion we’ve become accustomed to in Subaru products.
That said, if you lift off the throttle when travelling at speed the petrol engine will shut down, allowing for emissions-free coasting. It’s instances such as these that, Subaru says, contribute to the e-Boxer being up to 10% more fuel efficient than the standard 2.0-litre unit.