What is it?
This new XV is Subaru’s first billion-dollar car. That’s not what you’ll pay for it – the latest XV is expected to start at around £23,000 – but it’s what this admirably individual Japanese car company has spent developing its new Subaru Global Platform (SGP).
SGP will provide a solid foundation for all future Subarus. And very solid it turns out to be, with the XV achieving the highest-ever rating in Japan’s recently toughened NCAP tests, scoring 199.7 out of 208 points.
Among the many features contributing to this is a crash structure capable of absorbing 40% more energy than previously and the latest evolution of Subaru’s EyeSight driver assistance package of pre-collision braking, adaptive cruise control and lane keeping assist.
Other SGP benefits include torsional rigidity gains of 70-100% over present models, an even lower centre of gravity (by 5mm) than the boxer engine layout already afforded, more rigid suspension mountings, a 50% bodyroll reduction and improved off-road ability.
What is it like?
More obvious than any of this, however, is the substantial improvement in the fit, finish and ambience of the XV’s interior. There needed to be, admittedly, since this has long been a Subaru weak point, but the result is nevertheless pleasing. The XV’s interior is now an environment you can enjoy in its own right rather than as a black, plasticky place from which to access Subaru’s more physical talents.
As a crossover, the XV aims to be big on the more down-to-earth elements of these physical talents than an Impreza WRX. And it immediately registers a few points with its exceptionally roomy interior for both rows of passengers and their luggage. You also get all-wheel drive as standard, an 8.0in infotainment screen, the aforementioned EyeSight features, torque vectoring and the same generous 8.7in ground clearance as before.
You also enjoy improved refinement (to the point that the direct injection 2.0’s four-cylinder boxer beat has almost been expunged, disappointlngly). But performance is decent rather than memorable.
Should I buy one?
Hopefully, the new platform allows plenty of dynamic tuning, because in XV trim it produces safe, mild understeer and very little lift-off adjustability. But of confident stability, there’s plenty. Despite the XV’s shortage of dynamism, this is nevertheless an appealingly compact, useful and distinctive machine.
Subaru XV 2.0i Lineartronic
Where Tokyo, Japan; On sale February 2018; Price £25,000 (est); Engine 4 cyls, 1995cc, turbocharged petrol; Power 154bhp at 6000rpm; Torque 145lb ft at 4000rpm; Gearbox 7-spd CVT; Kerbweight 1920kg; Top speed 116mph (est); 0-62mph 10.2sec (est); Fuel economy 44.4mpg (est); CO2 rating/BIK 140g/km, 27% (est); Rivals Nissan Qashqai, Seat Ateca, Mazda CX-5