Regular readers will know that I am partial to a Subaru. To me they have a feeling of solidity and robustness that feels planted on the road. Generally, reaction to the Subaru Levorg Grand Tourer has been mixed; everyone agrees that it has a capable and well engineered permanent 4×4 system but it doesn’t float many boats overall. So I may be sailing against the tide here but I really rate it.
The Same Only Different
All the models in Subaru’s range have their excellent full-time four-wheel drive system and boxer engines sitting low under the bonnet. There’s none of this trendy, lifestyle nonsense with vehicles under the Pleiades badge, these are cars that are built to last and it shows when you see all the aged, muddy Outbacks doggedly driving in the countryside, still plying their rural business.
Unashamedly, the Subaru brand has traditionally been targeted towards a specific niche, centred around those who desire the company’s signature drive-train and the bombproof build. Subaru buyers are a dedicated bunch and I am delighted, yes delighted, to be numbered amongst them.
In a way, Subaru don’t really have any direct competition. Sure, you can perhaps identify the odd model like the Skoda Octavia 4×4 Scout, but essentially they are in a class of their own. Shorter than the Outback and a bit longer than the slightly disappointing XV, The Subaru Levorg GT fits into a virtually non-existent gap between them.
More Of The Same Differently
From many angles, especially the back view, the Subaru Levorg GT is a good looking if slightly austere estate car characterised by the big, gaping air intake on the bonnet. No doubt this car is capable of tackling a bit of light off-roading but it sits too low to attempt anything more than a muddy track. The low-slung profile looks good at the kerb though and you have the sense that it would be tackle the worst our roads and weather could throw at it. It looks solid. Thanks in part to its four-wheel-drive system, the Levorg is actually pretty good fun to drive with plenty of traction when it matters. There’s loads of grip and the steering is nice and accurate, if lacking in feel. For a big car it feels comfortable taking on twisty country roads.
The boot is a fair size and well shaped and the roomy rear seats split and fold as usual. Eschewing a proper spare wheel, the Levorg gets instead one of those kits but it does mean that there is room under the floor for some hidden, useful storage space.
There’s just the one model. Regrettably, the Levorg doesn’t get the engine from the beloved WRX STI (please Subaru!), instead it makes do with the aluminium 1.6L four-pot petrol boxer engine nourished by a twin-scroll turbo and delivering a reasonable 168bhp from 4800rpm. The engine does however benefit from a chunky 184lb/ft of torque from 1800rpm. There are no diesel options available for the Levorg just now and, I would hazard, never will be.
Subaru have made inroads into bringing the interior up to date. Fitted as standard, buyers get Subaru’s simple to use Starlink infotainment system, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, a rear parking camera, dual-zone climate control, two 12-volt power outputs, four USB ports, keyless entry and go, leather upholstery and reclining rear seats. You also get 18-inch alloys and auto-dipping LED headlights; so all the kit we expect is present and correct without having to stump up from the options list.
The main dials are clear and easy to read and I love the cowled supplementary instrument binnacle in the centre of the dash which is controlled by a centrally mounted switch that looks like it came off a 1980’s hi-fi but in fact makes a sort of sense because, in use on the fly, it is impossible to fumble it.
This car has as standard Subaru’s Advanced Safety Package which includes two innovative new features—High Beam Assist (HBA) and Subaru Rear Vehicle Detection (SRVD). HBA can automatically toggle between high and low beams depending on road conditions such as speed and oncoming traffic, enhancing visibility for you, and other drivers as well.
SRVD uses sensors placed around the Levorg to alert you to vehicles in your rear blind spots for safer lane changes, and can also warn drivers of potential collision danger whilst reversing, say, in the supermarket car park. No sign yet though of Subaru’s unique ‘Eyesight’ system as featured on the new Outback, here.
The Difference That Is CVT
I think everybody knows my feelings about Continuously Variable Transmissions by now so I won’t labour my distaste; suffice to say that they are frustrating and annoying. My initial disappointment when I heard this was the only ‘box available has now been tempered somewhat because Subaru have been fiddling with it and it is a much improved device.
Stepped ‘gears’ now make it feel far more like a proper torque-converter gearbox. In automatic mode, I couldn’t really tell the difference. This made me very happy. Kick-down gave a definite sense of dropping down a cog or two. Acceleration off the line only delivers 62mph is just under nine seconds but out on the road it feels much quicker especially if sport mode is selected and overtaking is dealt with easily. Still sooner have a proper gearbox though.
An on-the-move lever switch to Manual brings the steering wheel paddles into play if you care to use them but shifts are not especially precise as you would expect,say, from a DSG ‘box. The paddles are an option but Sport/Auto suited me just fine.
The multi-function steering wheel has a button to vary what Subaru term the ‘SI Drive’. In normal use the ‘Intelligent’ mode is the most economical choice. Press the ‘S’ button and the car maximises its performance potential albeit with a fuel cost penalty. Economy and emissions is one of the weaker aspects of the Subaru Levorg, it has to be said. It’s a heavy motor and the official figure is just 39.8mpg. I expect with parsimonious motoring this would be possible on a long run but in testing form I only managed 32mpg. Emissions are disappointing at 164g/km which means £180 for your invisible tax disc. The Levorg is a bit pricey too at nearly £28,000.
There’s a full and complete specification reproduced below if you crave detail.
Viva La Différence
Did I mention that I like a Subaru? Well, I do and I especially like this one. Feel free to differ because I don’t expect the company will sell many of them to British buyers who prefer their toy crossovers. The Subaru Levorg Grand Tourer was always destined to be a niche player but Subaru seem to understand that. Those who are prepared to take on something different will find a lot to like on this car – including the legendary dependability. You could say it’s more Scooby-Doo than Scooby-Don’t in fact. Geoff Maxted