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DON’T be fooled; Subaru has not gone soft.
For sure, its new “soft-roader”,will compete with the Kia Sportage and Nissan Qashqai, but its rakish profile and low-slung appearance is only a small part of the story.
No, the Subaru XV comes with a fullblown 4x4 drive system of the type that fans of the brand would expect to find.
So the XV not only has appeal to its fan club, but will also pick up some new customers looking for family-friendly credentials.
Subaru’s past is dominated by turbocharged Imprezas and rallying successes, but the XV is targeted fair and square at the lifestyle market.
Yet the XV’s transmission is the genuine article and easily trumps its softer rivals despite the absence of a low-range mode.
Sitting on a new platform, the XV crossover boasts a greater ground clearance than the competition, which reinforces Subaru’s assertion that the car won’t let you down when you’re driving off the road.
Every XV is equipped with two core Subaru technologies – Symmetrical All- Wheel Drive and a Boxer engine – ensuring that the vehicle feels both engaging and incredibly safe to drive, in all conditions. In fact, official results show the XV to be the safest car in its segment with a five-star EuroNCAP rating and the highest child protection score of any car in the UK.
The XV combines style and functionality with generous levels of standard-fit equipment, making it a match for its established compact crossover rivals.
Priced from £21,295, the 11-model range offers three equipment levels – S, SE and SE Lux Premium – a choice of 114ps 1.6 and 150ps 2.0-litre petrol and a 2.0-litre diesel engine that produces 147ps and 350Nm, with five and six-speed manual or a six-speed CVT automatic transmission, depending on model.
Even entry-level S models feature a standard kit list to make many models from premium compact SUV manufacturers blush. Buyers can expect to find ABS, traction control, Subaru Vehicle Dynamics Control, front, side, curtain and knee airbags, 17-inch alloy wheels, daytime LED running lights and automatic air conditioning as standard.
SE models add cruise control, rear-view camera, Bluetooth functionality and USB/iPod connectivity. Meanwhile, topof- the-range SE Lux Premium models also come with a sunroof, Keyless Smart Entry, push-button start, leather seats and satellite navigation. All 2.0-litre models are fitted with roof rails.
Petrol-powered XV models benefit from Subaru’s new fuel-saving Auto Start Stop System as standard, boosting fuel savings in congested traffic.
For many, the 2.0-litre diesel – tested here – will be the one to go for.
With a 0 to 62mph time of under ten seconds, it has plenty of zip as well as the ability to carry up to five adults in a relaxed manner.
In the final analysis, it’s what lies beneath that will sell the XV.
In this area, the XV comes with a brand heritage that is focused more on doing stuff rather than being seen posing on the high street.
And thanks to its ample reserves of torque it’s capable of trundling around town or piling on the motorway miles with barely a murmur.
PRICE: from £26,295
ENGINE: 2.0-litre diesel unit developing 147PS
TRANSMISSION: six-speed manual, driving all four wheels
PERFORMANCE: top speed 120mph; 0-62mph in 9.3 seconds
ECONOMY: 50.4mpg combined
CO2 RATING: 146g/km