Subaru XV

Overall, the new Subaru XV is a real curiosity. Despite the styling faux pas that has graced the Impreza and Forester of late, there remains a tremendous amount of goodwill towards Subaru and the vehicles they produce. This does, however, add further to the question of why, instead of trying to rekindle the interest of their fan base, they have chosen to bring out a C-SUV and try and compete in a market that is way too overcrowded.

To make any kind of impression in this sector the Subaru XV needs to be something very special. This isn’t their first SUV however, merely the only one that has made it to the UK.  The predecessor, quite frankly, resembled an Impreza dressed in a disposable nappy, but the bodywork on this model is, thankfully, much improved, and obviously potty trained as the nappies are happily missing.

It also manages to carry off that trick where you get both a good ground clearance and a low roof line, the lowest in its class in fact, while still offering acceptable headroom in both the front and the back. It is a handsome looking car from the front, has an elegant profile, looks rather too like the Dodge Caliber from the rear, and should cause no offence as long as it is purchased in a suitable colour.

Once inside, the Subaru XV is spacious throughout, and benefits greatly from incredibly slim A-pillars, which in turn offer outstanding forward visibility. It lets itself down badly in the front seat department however, they have very short bases and offer all the support of a trifle. The interior, on the whole, is of vastly differing quality which really should all be off the same good standard.

Even more annoying is the fact that every available surface is sporting an expensive looking, moulded soft touch finish, but everything you actually touch is covered in a hard and scratchy plastic. Even the most over-glamourised of cosmetic surgery addicts know that you should spend the most amount of money on those areas to which your fingers naturally gravitate towards.

The permanent all wheel drive that the XV offers comes in three powers; 144bhp diesel engine, a 2 litre 147bhp and a 1.6 litre 112bhp. The whimsical part about it, and what suggests that even Subaru aren’t quite buying into the predictable ‘urban adventure’ marketing tag that the XV is burdened with, is that all the manual transmissions are accompanied by the low ratio, standard fit transfer box.

This doesn’t greatly benefit the 1.6 litre engine either, and is very much the case of the mind being willing but the body unable. The 2 litre engine gives it a better go of shifting what is in fact a very lightweight version of an all wheel drive SUV, weighing in at 200kg less that the comparable Kuga. Overall, the XV will be pushing their fans goodwill and loyalty, a large price tag is attached, quite frankly, to not a great deal of car.