The XV Forges Ahead
Richard Augustin 
The new Subaru XV is a step up from its predecessor.

The success of the Subaru brand was built on the back of motorsport. The Japanese automaker has always been associated with power and performance thanks to its numerous wins at the World Rally Championship (WRC).

But Subaru had a rough time shedding its WRC past when it began distancing itself from motorsport to focus on becoming a competitive passenger carmaker. Trophies and victories on the race course are great but such bragging rights can hardly pay the bills.

To be a true global contender, Subaru went back to the basics and focused on producing cars that boasted great driveability. Over the years, thanks to its experience in rallying, it has produced some of the better handling passenger vehicles today.

The Forrester, the Impreza and the Legacy are prime examples but the one model that has truly delivered on its returns for Subaru is its compact crossover, the XV. Launched in 2012, the XV arrived at the opportune time when consumers were beginning to embrace the SUV crossover concept.

With its bold design, high ground clearance and all-wheel drive drivetrain, the Subaru XV looked and drove like an exciting urban crossover. Six years later, Subaru is ready to unveil the second generation model in Malaysia – and it has made good on the promise of delivering an XV that is a huge step up from its predecessor.


Lines that last

In terms of design, Subaru has improved on the look of the vehicle with subtle changes and enhancements. Utilising the DYNAMIC x SOLID design philosophy, the new XV has a bolder face, a revised aluminium wheel design and a more streamlined rear, thanks to redesigned tail lamps.

The new model also sits higher, offering a ground clearance of 220mm, which proves useful when negotiating tougher terrains. Like the outgoing model, the XV offers a design that is safe, contemporary and largely utilitarian compared with its competitors. It won’t turn heads like the Toyota CH-R but the XV will surely age a lot better.


Formidable platform

The true measure and appeal of the XV lies under the hood. Built upon the Subaru Global Platform and Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive, the XV is perfectly suited for urban adventures as well as leisurely off-the-beaten path pursuits.

The new Subaru has also shed some weight and revamped the 2.0-litre Boxer Engine as well as the Lineartronic CVT transmission for increased power and fuel economy. Still, for drivers looking for a more spirited drive, the XV may not be their cup of tea. Then again, sprinting was never the model’s forte to begin with.


Built for rugged roads

The all-wheel drive system and improved torsional rigidity of the XV’s frame structure provide a comfortable and pleasant ride. In terms of driveability and handling, the XV is an impressive all-rounder and, despite its higher ride, delivers a drive that is both quiet and refined with minimal body roll.

The true appeal of the XV, however, is its light off-road capabilities, which is further enhanced with X-MODE that optimises integrated control of the engine, all-wheel drive system and brakes. The addition of Hill Descent Control also adds an advantage over its competitors in the segment.


Enhanced interior

The inside also offers some upgrades. Clean, uncluttered, well-built and plush, high quality soft touch materials are used throughout the design of the cockpit, with the multi-function steering wheel ensuring drivers stay focused on the journey ahead.

Space has also been improved with a larger cargo area. The 8.0-inch touch screen display infotainment system with navigation isn’t the best or most intuitive but it gets the job done. The XV comes with seven SRS Airbags – front, side, curtain and knee – to provide peace of mind for both driver and passengers.


The outdoorsy crossover

Whether or not the Subaru XV is for you depends on what kind of driver you are. It certainly tops in handling and driveability. It is undoubtedly useful in handling rugged terrain, which is its best attribute.

Fortunately, it has found a niche for itself in this segment, and is a great choice for anyone looking for a versatile and capable SUV for their urban adventures.


Engine: 16-Valve DOHC VVT
Capacity: 1995cc
Transmission: CVT Automatic Lineartronic with 7-speed manual mode
Drivetrain: Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive
Max Power: 154 hp at 6000 rpm
Max Torque: 196 Nm at 4000 rpm
Fuel Consumption: 7.3L/100km
Fuel Tank Capacity: 63L
Price: From RM118,819 (OTR without insurance)

This article first appeared in Focus Malaysia Issue 276.