What is it?
Based on the Impreza, the XV is Subaru’s endeavour to tap into the lucrative and fashionable lifestyle crossover sector. It comes with beefed up suspension and an extra bit of ground clearance. As well as a taller body, it looks more like a sporty hatchback than a traditionally style SUV, but don’t let that fool you into thinking that the XV is an SUV pretender, ‘cos it isn’t, not by a long stretch.
On the road
Subaru has a reputation for creating great handling cars, and I came to the conclusion the XV is no exception, even though that the vast majority of the 700 miles I covered during our week together were motorway miles. which it excelled at. The ride wasn’t as harsh as I expected it to be, it was actually quite squishy, yet blasting it... umm, meandering along narrow and twisty roads, the XV was fun and handled them well. Muddy Madam found the 6-speed manual box a little notchy, but I thought it sporty and precise.
Overall I averaged 45.6mpg, which isn’t too shabby considering I was in a rush for most of the time. Other journo's have have mentioned that the diesel Boxer engine is a little clattery, and yes I’ll agree, but not excessively, and it shouldn’t put you off buying one. One thing I don’t disagree on is that a few reviewers complained about it being ‘bone jarringly uncomfortable on poor road surfaces’, I found the total opposite, it was smooth and comfortable.
It’s a Subaru, so of course it’s going to cope well with the rough stuff. On the few green-lanes I drove down the XV didn’t even break into a sweat. There’s ample ground clearance too, 220mm, this gives you confidence off-road, and in my case, with a tall body, helped getting in and out with a sore back that I had that week.
Now, I could talk about Subaru’s 4x4 system and how it operates, but I’m going to leave that for another article that I've got in the pipeline. You see, I recently went on a Subaru off-road press day which was an eye-opener, as all I can say is that I’ve never been more surprised, no, impressed by what an AWD car can do in the mud, ever.
So let’s just say that off-road, the XV rocks!
As I mentioned earlier, I spent a lot of time driving the XV on the motorway, and apart from the slightly narrow seat, I thought it was a lovely place to be for all of those interminable hours.
This was the 2.0ltr diesel SE premium version, so there’s a nice combination of leather and plastics with a black rubberised dash that offers a touch of style. I’m not going to say that it’s the plushest car I’ve driven in the price bracket, but it exudes a certain toughness.
The dash layout is good with all switches to hand, though it took me a while to find the heated seat switches as they’re hidden down behind the handbrake. On the subject of the handbrake, this was my only real complaint as it’s angled to stick into my left thigh when raised, quite annoying.
Rear seat passengers have plenty of room too, and visibility is very good with large windows, including door mirrors. On the subject of space, in the back you get 380ltrs of nothingness, which increases to 1,270ltrs of nothingness when the rear seats are folded down.
Engines ’n’ transmissions
The 2016 XV comes with a choice of a 2ltr diesel and 2ltr petrol engine with 6-speed manual or an Auto ‘box.
2.0ltr, 147ps - 52mpg combined - 123mph - 0-60mph in 9.3 seconds C02 = 141 g/km
2.0ltr, 150ps - 40mpg combined - 116mph - 0-60mph in 10.5 seconds C02 = 160 g/km
2.0ltr, 150ps - 43mpg combined - 116mph - 0-60mph in 10.7 seconds C02 = 151 g/km
I have to admit, the XV confused me slightly. To arrive at an adequate conclusion, I had to sit back for a while, slurp on a mug of strong coffee, munch on a custard cream and actually think.
What I liked about the XV was its honestly, under its bodywork is a workhorse, and quite a splendid one too. I don’t think it’s the prettiest of cars, but then I find that dark colours often disguise shapes, maybe sprayed in pillar-box red might help.
The XV will cope with whatever the modern family can throw at it, and more, in fact don’t be surprised if you see them working for a living on farms in the middle of nowhere, that's where you find most Subarus.
I want to say that it’s rough ’n’ ready, but it isn’t, there is however a certain robustness about it, it’s something you get with every Subaru, you just get the sense that it’s made from sturdier stuff than the rest. Yes, some of the XV’s rivals might be prettier inside, a little quieter maybe, but could they actually work for a living? A Subaru can.
The XV reminded me of my old 1996 Land Rover Discovery, it’s a Land Rover and therefore could cope with incredibly harsh driving conditions, but it was also a family car and wonderful for long distance cruising. The XV comes across as just that, it’s a Subaru with all the qualities that you would expect of a proper AWD Crossover, and it’s great for the family.
So, my conclusion, if you want a tough AWD Crossover with exceptional off-road ability that’s also comfortable for long journeys, either by yourself or with the tribe, then you should seriously consider the XV.