If you know who Colin McRae, Petter Solberg, Richard Burns and Tommi Makinnen is, you would already know by now that these top rally drivers have made their mark in the history books, winning WRC championships in a Subaru.
The brand’s Impreza WRX models carry the flag with a huge following and much success on the world’s rally stages and in the virtual world of Gran Turismo. Regardless whether it’s dust or pixels, Subaru’s has very much solidified its reputation for making hardy performance vehicles.
Since the company’s departure from rallying in 2008, the company switched its focus on making practical cars for young families while gradually shifting away from being a maker of performance focused vehicles to sensible and practical cars. That said the XV had attracted many young families for its versatility, which can adapt to its owners’ needs at a moments notice.
To be really specific, what attracted many of its customers is that like the first XV, the all-new XV boasts a rugged, sporty and charismatic exterior design. The new XV’s new look doesn’t stray too far from the outgoing model, and boasts new signature headlights; a new grille design clad in matte-black, black rear spoiler and newly designed 17-inch aluminium wheels.
The standard VX comes equipped with halogen headlamps with Leveliser, door mirrors with built-In LED turn signal, roof antenna, front Fog Lamps, and 17-Inch aluminium alloy wheels. Only the range-topping 2.0i-P comes with directional LED headlights as standard. Looks wise, it’s as attractive as it gets, people craning their necks at the lights and on the streets sums it up quite neatly.
The biggest change however can be found inside; the XV’s interior is a huge step above the outgoing model in terms of design, choice of materials and build quality, which the interior wasn’t the brand’s strongest point until now.
With the use of soft materials and various styling touches, the XV’s interior now has a premium aura while still an affordable vehicle in this segment, packing a lot of competence under the bodyshell.
The front seats in the both the base 2.0i and range-topping 2.0i-P comes with mechanically adjustable faux leather and fabric inserts seats, which is also a big improvement as they now provide actual lateral support and comfort – especially beneficial for long distance driving.
The new steering wheel feels good to the touch and doesn’t feel overly chunky to hold and adjustments are done manually with plenty of adjustability to suit drivers of various builds.
The main reason people find crossovers attractive is its inherent practicality. And the XV’s dimensional updates have delivered a vehicle that is even more useful. Ground clearance has increased to 220mm while the Subaru Global Platform lowers the XV’s centre of gravity by 5mm.
A larger body translates into increased boot space. With the rear eats up, the boot capacity stands at 310-litre and when the seats are folded down flat, the maximum luggage capacity increases to 1,240-litres. The boot opening is now 100mm wider and the length of the boot has been extended by 41mm.
The XV’ rear seats can be folded down 60:40 and comes equipped with ISOFIX child seat anchors as standard with plenty of room for three adults. Rear passengers also gets more room from the resized XV, with 26mm added to the rear footwell, allowing for more legroom than before. Also new are the number of airbags onboard; with an additional 4 airbags, the new XV now comes with 7 SRS Airbags – front, side, curtain & knee.
Dual-zone automatic climate control comes as standard in the 2.0i-P variant, which is easy to operate via the interface located below the 8-inch touchscreen.
What’s useful is that ambient temperature outside is shown on the 6.3-inch LCD screen along with the temperatures of each side of the dual-zone temperatures, which provides an at-a-glance view of the temperatures in and outside of the car. Additional vehicle information such as fuel consumption, engine oil temperature, climate control, off-road meter and vehicle exterior lighting status can be viewed here as well. However, the XV lacks rear air vents, which does leave the rear passengers slightly uncomfortable during hot days.
Entertainment comes from a new 8-inch full-colour LCD multifunction display centre providing intuitive access to navigation. When it comes to current driving information the 2.0i-P gets a 4.2-inch multifunction display nested in between the engine rev and vehicle speed dials.
The Panasonic supplied 8-inch touchscreen relays clear and crisp visuals and it is intuitive to use. The only setback though is that it leaves fingerprints. Setting up your Bluetooth connection is easy and painless allowing you to make and receive calls hands-free, music streaming and play your favourite albums from your USB thumb drive.
Sound quality from the XV’s six speakers is quite impressive for a car in this price point. The sound is crisp and clear at the top while punchy at the low end. No matter what you throw at them, these speakers would do just fine without signs of strain and clipping.
When it comes to powertrain, the new XV gets a new naturally aspirated 2.0-litre direct-injection petrol engine with a compression ratio of 12.5:1. The new boxer engine makes 153hp at 6,000rpm and 196Nm of torque at 4,000 rpm – its now 12kg lighter and gains a tiny 5hp improvement above the outgoing engine but retains the same torque output.
Likewise, the Lineartronic CVT transmission is now 7.8kg lighter than the one fitted in the previous model and comes with a new auto-step shift control and 7-speed manual mode function.
In addition to Subaru’s Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive system, the All-New Subaru XV now comes equipped with X-MODE which cleverly distributes power to wheels with the most traction allowing ascending or descending slippery muddy off-road slopes effortlessly.
The 2.0-litre mill is connected to Subaru’s Lineartronic CVT transmission with Active Torque Split AWD which at default runs at a 60% power at the front wheels and 40% at the rear, but when the need for traction arises, the ATS system splits that to 50% on both ends.
Fuel consumption is pretty impressive as well: as tested, the XV is able to do 4.7 l/100km on Highway, 9.2 l/100km Urban and 6.2 l/100Km Combined.
Taking it on the road is where the big changes are evident. The Subaru XV has benefited from a raft of build quality improvements, with strengthened torsional rigidity giving it a more solid feel. Efforts in reducing noise and vibrations are apparent with thicker windows and choice of materials has improved the driving experience with new levels of refinement.
The XV glides over bumps, potholes and rough patches effortlessly without any audible signs of plastic touching one another. That said, the occupants inside wouldn’t feel the immediate shocks and vibrations translated which the older XV struggled.
When it comes to ride quality, the latest XV excels; fitted with front MacPhersons and rear double wishbones, ride comfort and compliance is definitely its default trait. The XV rides gracefully over undulations with as the shock absorbers are in tune to Malaysian roads with plenty of composure and compliance.
Motor Image Malaysia organised a trip down to Port Dickson and to MIMC circuit in Melaka to experience the XV’s full capabilities. Lapping the small go-kart circuit, the XV doesn’t roll much into corners, keeping level even when the XV is pushed to its limit. This can be felt especially when transitioning from the previous corner to the next, which inspires plenty of confidence.
Handling can be described as forgiving and does take quite a lot to unsettle thanks to the Active Torque Split AWD that vectors torque on each individual wheel by localising brake pressure on all four corners of the car. Pressing the ESC button doesn’t fully disengage the system as it allows some leeway and kicks in like a safety net when it feels that things are taken a little too far.
Understeer is not an issue at all in the XV and very entertaining for a crossover. It’s nimble around tight bends with minimal body movement. The rear does become light but doesn’t dramatically rotate, something like a hot hatchback but a lot more progressive and without the edginess.
The Lineartronic CVT is great when it comes to city driving or highway cruising, but does pretty well when it comes to outright performance especially on the track, however downshifting manually does have a lot to be desired when it comes to response time.
The all-new Subaru XV is a very capable vehicle offering comfort, practicality, and refinement and driving confidence in one good-looking package, and supersedes the old model by a huge margin with many of its weaknesses addressed.
Personally, I feel that the new XV is one of the biggest surprises of 2018. So the question comes is this; does it worth its price tag of RM125,868? I think it’s a very good deal considering that the XV offers so much with many of its past weaknesses addressed.
+ Comfortable ride
+ Premium atmosphere
+ Solid build quality
+ Unfussy infotainment system
+ Powerful audio system
+ Easy and entertaining to drive
+Frugal fuel consumption
Subaru XV 2.0i-P
Price Msia: RM125,868 (Introductory) OTR w/o insurance
Engine: 1,995 cc horizontally-opposed four-cylinder
Fuel Economy: 4.7 l/100km (Tested)
Transmission: Lineartronic CVT with 7-Speed manual mode