Family Driving – Subaru XV

This one is interesting – the Subaru XV is classed as an SUV but for me, it’s more of a hatch back riding on higher suspension. Subaru like to call it a Compact Crossover SUV – it’s a hatchback.

I was excited to get behind the wheel of a Subaru again, the last time was around a year ago when I was lucky enough to pilot the WRX STI Impreza Final Edition, for me this was a bit of a childhood dream, to be driving an Impreza. Growing up in the 90’s Colin McCrea was a hero, I bought his Play Station games and seeing his control of a car and his ‘If in doubt flat out’ mentality was awe-inspiring. I’ve seen Jimmy McCrea behind the wheel of the famous L 555 BAT Impreza, trying to keep my cool and stop my inner child screaming and jumping around as Jimmy flicked the Impreza from side to side, sliding around fellow rally legends Ari Vatanen, Markku Allen, Stig Blomqvist, Timo Salonen and Mikki Biasion.

So, to my next experience being a Subaru XV, it has a fair bit to live up to…

Obviously it’s an impossible comparison but there are some hints of the brands legacy in a car which doesn’t know which category it belongs. The seating position is good, the steering wheel is nice, coupled with responsive steering and competent handling. It won’t leave you with an ear splitting smile on the bends instead just a bit more confident on the country lanes or exiting a round about.

So, let’s get in to it…

The Engine

Uh, I wish I didn’t have to start here, the 1.6 Linertronic is a Horizontally-opposed, 4-cylinder boxer engine matched with a CVT gearbox with 114ps and 150Nm of torque. Plant your foot and for all the revs you’ll feel as if you’re going nowhere fast, 0-60 comes in 13.2 seconds and by todays standards that is very, very slow, smaller engines will get there quicker with much less noise from the engine. I also found it thirsty, averaging 34mpg when I drove it around for a week.

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I found the engine underwhelming and a bit of hard work, to look at the positives, it does well in Japan and the US but over here, I didn’t enjoy it.

Handling

As mentioned above I found it competent around the bends, it wasn’t something which I was left hankering for more corners but it was just that, fine.

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Off road, with the X-mode which gives you hill descent control and some clever electronic differential things. It handles the bumpy stuff just fine and pottering about at low speeds is far more capable than most soft-roaders which this would come up against.

Family life

The back will comfortably hold two iso-fix car seats, which are very easy to locate and house. It actually made switching car seats between cars so easy it would take minutes. in stead of being lost between the leather on the seat, you can just slide up the iso-fix housing cover and pop your little one’s seat in. The cabin is light, thanks to the sunroof and roomy, there never felt a cramped feeling, being six foot I usually have to have the seat further forward than I would usually like, with a child seat behind me, here though there seemed to be plenty of room.

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The boot is where the XV is let down, the size of a large hatch back, the floor of the boot is higher than you would think due to the differential at the back. Meaning the iCandy Peach and carry cot was a struggle to get in along with everything else for two kids.

The roof rails are also a welcome addition meaning a roof box could be attached to boost storage space for longer journeys.

Would I buy one?

The Subaru XV isn’t for me, the engine let’s it down as does the boot space, there’s many things which are likeable but the car is hitting an identity crisis, it doesn’t really know if it’s a hatch or an SUV.

I think there’s better places you could put your money with this model coming in at £24,000 and the 2.0 coming in closer to £28,000 it’s starting to creep in to Volvo XC40 territory.

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