I’ve been spoilt for choice lately. Three cars in the garage is a great way to start the day and sometimes it’s a real challenge to pick which one to drive. There is always the favourite, be it the sentimental machine with a few extra years under the belt, or the brand spanking newbie! Lately, I’ve been conscious of which one I’m leaving behind, but I always come back to the one that is the easiest to drive.
Of the three in the garage at the moment, I keep coming back to the Subaru XV. This one is a 2013 2.0i model. It’s no fuss modern-day motoring for under $30,000. Sure, this model misses out on some tech, but what it does offer is an unshakably consistent driving experience and, considering the class of cars occupied by this vehicle, I think this is a pretty good attribute. The last thing you want is to buy something that reminds you every day that it is expensive, or mono-dimensional, or is something that is ‘just’ a car. Despite criticisms of the engine power delivery engine on XVs – something other reviews have referred to as ‘torque black holes’ – there is still enough here to peak your interest after 25,000km of driving.
From the outside, prospective buyers see the iconic XV styling that has become a huge unique feature of this vehicle. Really tough body lines and inimitable rims are what made this car a genuine head turner when it first burst onto the scene. Before anything else, people wanted to buy an XV because of its street appeal. It’s only when you jump inside that some of the same crowd became disappointed. I liken it to dating a really popular person at school; everything on the outside is fantastic. You like what you see and everything is pretty much what you ordered. Then you go to this person’s house and meet their parents and you find out that you don’t really get along. You like your date, but you know that something is not quite right. Not that the XV will comment on your choice of football team, but the exhilarating exterior of this car does not match the tame interior. It’s not a deal breaker, but it is a far cry from the recent overhaul that Subaru offered the current crop of vehicles. You get a standard set-up and that’s about it. So what do you do? One thing you could do is forget about that detail for a second, take it for a drive and see if you like it.
This is the car that is showcased in my accompanying video review, named ‘The Car Park Challenge’. For a car like the XV, the great part about the nature of this challenge is you begin to appreciate the practical and functional nature of this small car on steroids. There are no fancy things on offer here, just good, clean engineering. The car has a two litre engine mated with a Constant Variable Transmission (CVT) and Subaru’s constant All Wheel Drive (AWD). The CVT thing is not for everyone and does take some time to become familiar to your ears. There will be times where the engine is held at high revs (>3000 RPM) in order to respond to throttle demand. Power delivery is slightly delayed at low speeds, for instance, taking off from a starting start, but there are no such complaints once the engine is spinning at general cruising speeds of 60km/h and above. What sets this car apart from others in its class is its versatility and sheer drivability. It is a great car with a go anywhere, and do anything capability. Additionally, fuel economy is very good, testing at between 7-8 litres per 100 km in our testing time. The only real downer is boot space. For all the adventure-conscious marketing that goes into this car, it has tiny boot space. Families with prams will be looking for the roof pod, and couples with kayaks will be looking for Subaru big brother cars, either Forester or Outback.
But I keep coming back to this car. There is something about this model that sits on the cusp of the hyper-tech conscious era and says, ‘I am a car, and driving is what I was built to do’. Yeah, it’s sugary, I know, but there is something honest about this car that I just can’t shake. Definitely worth a look in today’s second hand market.