2012 Subaru XV Review

$13,970 $16,610 Dealer
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If Subaru Australia gets the pricing anywhere near right, it could have another SUV success story on its hands in the all-new XV.

If Subaru Australia gets the pricing anywhere near right, it could very well have another SUV success story on its hands in the all-new Subaru XV.

If the base model Subaru XV is priced below $30,000 (and this is a strong possibility, given the outgoing Impreza XV started at $27,490), it will have a significant price advantage over its direct all-wheel drive competitors: the Hyundai ix35 ($31,990), Mitsubishi ASX ($31,990) and the Nissan Dualis ($31,890). Pricing details will be finalised closer to the vehicle’s Australian launch.

The XV will officially sit in the compact SUV segment in Australia alongside its bigger brothers: the Liberty wagon-based Outback and the conventional four-wheel drive-styled Forester.

Mr Senior says Subaru Australia is targeting 400 to 500 monthly sales for the new model – a massive goal that would mean approximately one XV would be sold for every two Imprezas.

Mr Senior said the impact on Forester sales would be minimal, as the brand believes the small XV will attract a younger customer base. He also said Subaru historically experienced little crossover in SUV customers and passenger-car customers, suggesting XV was unlikely to rob Impreza of too many sales either.

Compared with the new Impreza five-door hatch, the XV has an extra 75mm of ground clearance (220mm). Despite this, Subaru has kept the height down to 1615mm – strengthening its assertion that the XV has a lower centre of gravity than its compact SUV competitors.

The XV’s boot is 30 litres smaller than the hatch’s (310 litres vs 340 litres), as Subaru Australia has fitted a larger spare tyre at the request of potential customers. It’s still not quite full-sized, but it’s much wider than a conventional space saver, which means it will be capable of being driven at high speeds and used while towing.

From the outside, the Subaru XV gets a unique grille and front and rear bumper design. The black plastic cladding around the wheel arches and lower panel edges is perhaps the most distinctive feature, along with the dramatic 17-inch black/silver alloys (standard on all grades) and the exclusive ‘tangerine pearl’ paint colour.

Subaru Australia says the XV will be a more premium offering than the Impreza, with prices and specifications to match its higher pegging. Like the all-new Impreza, the XV will be offered in three specification levels: 2.0i, 2.0i-L (luxury) and 2.0i-S (sports).

The 2.0i-L will get a sunroof, satellite navigation with SMS voice-to-text and voice command, dual-zone climate control, leatherette seat trim, and rear privacy glass.

The 2.0i-S tops the line-up with proper leather upholstery, eight-way electric driver’s seat, heated front seats, alloy pedals, HID xenon headlights and silver roof rails.

The new drivetrain is considerably more efficient than the old Impreza XV, thanks in part to the addition of Auto Start Stop technology as standard throughout the range – a first for a compact SUV in Australia.

Mr Senior said a diesel engine for the compact SUV was on Subaru Australia’s wish list, but admitted it was not a priority at the moment and far from the top of the brand’s wish list.

The steering has a reassuring weight to it, although the electric system inhibits the transference of some road feel. The pedals are well spaced and have a good feel, with a short travel on the clutch and a progressive brake application.

The manual gearbox rewards you with the conventional engine rise and fall, and lets you appreciate the character and nuances of the all-new Boxer, which has a seductively metallic rush as the revs rise. I found the manual shifter a bit fiddly and the gears a little too tightly spaced, although more time behind the wheel would likely resolve any deficiencies that weren’t intuitively mastered.

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