Dieselgate has claimed bigger casualties, of course, but for it to have taken away a perfectly good diesel engine from the Subaru XV – a car that we liked six years ago but is much the worse for the loss of the accessible torque that unit provided – is a baffling shame.

The car’s new 2.0-litre atmospheric petrol motor struggles to shoulder its mass even half as well, and its two-pedal CVT transmission is perpetually disobliging.

Matt Saunders Autocar

Matt Saunders

Road test editor
The XV would serve its dual-purpose niche better if it weren't for a meek powertrain

Improvements have been made to cabin quality, to infotainment and to ride and handling but, such is the calamity of the start that the car gets off to, resulting from that powertrain, that it can’t possibly recover to anything but also-ran status in its segment.

Those who buy the XV will do so because they live in remote places that suffer bad weather, because they need ‘a proper 4x4’ and because they know they can depend on it. These people are not wrong to trust Subaru, but we have to judge it on more than its ability to satisfy a small niche.

The objective of this test is to measure a car against others in its category. We wanted to enjoy driving the XV, but we didn’t really get close.

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