I may have mentioned before that I am partial to a Subaru. (A passing lady of my long-term acquaintance has just looked over my shoulder and said, “Only about a million times”, before moving on. A bit over-exaggerated I thought). The Subaru brand has traditionally been popular among a dedicated core of buyers. Marketing is targeted towards specific niches centered on those who want the company’s signature drive-train, in particular the outdoors enthusiast and affordable sports car markets.
Subaru is a company that sticks to its strengths. It seems not to be affected by fad and fashion. For this reason their strong, well made cars are sought after by those in the know.
All cars from this Japanese company are powered by versions of their ‘Boxer’ flat-four engine. In the case of the Levorg GT this is a 1.6L DOHC petrol, direct injection power plant with a twin-scroll turbocharger. In use, the seemingly pedestrian 0-62mph time of 8.9 seconds seems faster.
Introduced as a concept in 2013 the Subaru Levorg combines the practicality of a tourer with the lines and design of a sports car. The name ‘Levorg’ comes from a combination of the words ‘Legacy’, ‘Revolution’ and ‘Touring’. With the imposing front-end appearance of the mighty WRX STI, the Levorg offers owners a truly contemporary Subaru look.
Launched in 2014, it has proved very popular with Subaru’s existing customer base. The Levorg offers excellent interior space, practicality and comfort from the power seats with tasteful blue stitching. The low door sills allow plenty of light to enter the well designed cabin; a cabin incidentally that offers practicality rather than trendy fads. The interior also benefits from a very generous level of standard equipment from the single ‘GT’ trim level. At the back, the huge well-shaped boot has additional underfloor storage if buyers opt for the tyre kit rather than a spare.
Everything of importance can be ticked off. Bluetooth, Audio, Aux, USB (including for the back seats) are all on board as is a hill-hold facility. The 7” screen offers a reversing camera, navigation and connectivity. The central dash cowl incorporates a multi-function display with easily switched graphics that show everything from the time to how the 4×4 system is performing. It’s a Subaru so with the legendary all-wheel drive you can be confident that traction is superb.
If that wasn’t enough the Levorg also has, again as standard, the ‘Subaru Rear Vehicle Detection’ system, which alerts drivers to vehicles and pedestrians behind the car.
An all-encompassing safety package, SRVD combines three technologies: Blind Spot Detection, which alerts drivers to cars sitting in their blind spot; Lane Change Assist, which warns drivers of fast-approaching vehicles behind when the driver indicates to change lane; and Rear Cross Traffic Alert, which detects vehicles passing behind the Levorg when reversing out of a parking space. All-in-all, that’s comprehensive.
A hallmark of all Subaru cars (bar one) is their hallmark Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive. This has been pretty much standard equipment since 1972. Little needs to be said about this. It is tried, tested and it works brilliantly offering real grip at the right time. Couple this with vehicle dynamics control and torque vectoring – all equipped as standard – and safety is at the forefront.
Engineered specifically for the Levorg, the all-new four-cylinder engine produces 167bhp (170 PS), 164g/km of emissions and 250Nm torque. The engine, sitting low in the bay to enhance handling, offers smooth, seamless torque and improved efficiency. The 1.6L turbo power unit offers the same performance as Subaru’s old 2.5L naturally-aspirated Boxer engine despite being thirty-six percent smaller.
Moaning Less About CVT
The single engine option is paired with Subaru’s smooth ‘stepped’ Lineartronic (CVT) transmission with the option of paddle shifts.
I have mentioned before my dislike of the continuously variable transmission gearbox which seems to be making more appearances with other brands too. The standard CVT still doesn’t sit well with me (see XV below), but this is one of the better gearboxes of its type.
Six stepped ‘gears’ make it feel far more normal. Driving in automatic mode it feels almost like a proper high-geared torque-converter ‘box. Start flicking away at the standard paddle-shifts and you’ll notice the manual gearshifts seem softer and lazier than, say, a DSG. Best left in auto then when acceleration, whilst by no means vivid, is progressive and quick with plenty of torque available almost anywhere in the rev range. Don’t waste your time trying to kick-down because not a lot happens although you could try a couple of flicks at the paddle. It seems to me that driving CVT requires a slight adjustment in driving style to get the best from it. Stay smooth.
The Subaru XV comes with either a 2.0L diesel or 2.0L petrol engines. I drove the petrol engine for this test but feel the diesel would be the better option for this car (assuming that diesels are not banned by the time you want to buy one). The petrol engine really needs to be wound up to get the most from it.
As mentioned, I really like the Subaru range but find I cannot love the XV. It has the usual brand attributes but just doesn’t match up to the likes of Nissan’s Qashqai, for example. The ride isn’t the best and the gearbox is the CVT of old about which much has already been written.
I’m not going to say much more about this car here. Subaru will be showing a new XV at the Geneva Motor Show for release later this year. It looks fab in the dark teaser photo. Hopefully, the auto gearbox on offer for the new car will be the CVT that is featured in the brilliant Levorg.
Like other models in the range, flexibility is core to the character of the Subaru Levorg, providing power over a wide range of engine speeds and perfectly matching the car’s remit as a truly great sport tourer. Reservations about the XV notwithstanding, I’m still smitten. Don’t follow the herd; be a Subaru driver. Geoff Maxted