Subaru XV a

Tested: Subaru XV

What is it? An SUV that does the business.

How much? $32,163 drive-away. Auto ads $2560.

What’s driving it? A 110-kilowatt two-litre through a six speed manual.

Is it thirsty? The official combined figure is 7.3 litres per 100 km. I used 10 in the city, 7 in the country.

Subaru XV cPeugeot has a great idea for its stop/start system in the 508 – a little timer that keeps track of just how much time you spend in each journey with the engine stopped. In heavy traffic the total is frequently surprising. But Subaru’s XV has just gone one better – its readout not only shows the time spent with the engine off, but the amount of fuel you’re saving.

The display gives you a running total measured in millilitres. And the numbers are extremely impressive right up until you realise it takes 1000 millilitres to make a litre.

It was like this; after cruising the city for 80 kilometres the display showed me I had saved 100 millilitres of fuel. I felt good about that until it dawned on me that to save a litre I’d have to do another 700 kilometres. And further, that a saving of 100 millilitres equates to about 15 cents. Or 14.6 with a supermarket discount. Oh well, better than nothing.

Subaru XV bThe existence of stop/start is a sure sign that Subaru wants to sell the XV into Europe. It’s a neat sports utility vehicle that’s just as comfortable mixing it with the outback as it is in St Kilda Road, and what differentiates it from all those other compact SUVs is that it looks tough. It has body moulds in plastic where off-road bumps and chips are likely to occur, muscular alloy wheels and lots of ground clearance. What it doesn’t have is a proper spare wheel, yet even with a space saver the cargo floor is surprisingly high.

This model is the cheapest XV but still comes with a good complement of equipment, including cruise control and a trip computer that can only be described as comprehensive. The steering wheel is awash with buttons – an even dozen handling cruise, Bluetooth and the trip computer, as well as the tinny audio. Subaru has never been good at audio and with the XV it hasn’t got any better. With so many motorists spending so much time listening to the radio you’d think the penny would have dropped by now.

There isn’t a great deal of space anywhere inside but if that’s not important to you it’s nicely fitted out and comfortable in here, and it feels good. It rides nicely too but cabin noise can get intrusive at speed.

In a nutshell:
A better all rounder than most anything at the price, especially if you like dirt roads.

Published 2012


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