Subaru has long been admired for building rough tough and at times ballistically fast road cars. The Subaru boxer engines burbling noise is quite possibly the most recognisable engine note in the world behind the shriek of a supercars V12. However, recently Subaru has lost its way, the Impreza turned into a hatchback, the Legacy permanently became an ugly estate car for farmers and they had a rather failed flurry into the luxury SUV market with the Tribeca B9. Realising this though Subaru spied a niche in the market place it could have a pop at, the compact crossover section. So the question is will the new Subaru XV crossover push Subaru back in the right rough and tumble direction?
Things look promising from the word go with this new venture as Subaru already has previous good form in the larger crossover market with the Forester, a car which has stuck true to its design brief during production. However, in the past Subaru have really only had themselves to compete with, for the first time with the XV Subaru is taking on some very stiff and Germanic opposition, principally the BMW X1, Audi Q3 and to a lesser extent the Volkswagen Tiguan, not exactly easy pickings for Subaru. Never mind though as one way the XV can steal sales is with price. Starting at around 23k for a 1.6 petrol the XV undercuts the Germans by almost 2 grand before optional extras are added. Standard equipment is another thing that the Subaru should excel at, in a rival for example a colour dashboard screen could cost anything between 500 and 1500 pounds, top spec XV’s will get a 4.3 inch one as standard capable of telling the driver all sorts of useful information. It’s also fair to assume that the XV will come packed with electronic driver aids in case any off roading is required. Subaru has also went to great lengths to make sure the XV’s interior fit and finish has a quality, simplistic feel, something which Subaru’s of late have lacked.
So the interior looks rather good but unfortunately the same cannot be said for the exterior, as it’s a bit of an ugly duckling. It takes its face from the current generation Legacy, not a very good start. And to emphasise its crossover’ness it has been given a bunch of black trim along the bumpers, the sills and around the wheel arches. The like of which was first seen on the Renault Scenic RX4 over a decade ago, not particularly cutting edge in terms of car design in my opinion. Looks are not important to everyone though and at least its high ride height gives the car some real authority and hints at some actual proper off road ability. Its other saving grace, those rather splendid wheels, if you do buy one, make sure to spec the wheels in the picture… ta.
When it comes to engine choice there really isn’t a lot to choose from with the XV. There will be two petrol’s and one diesel. The petrol’s are both boxer units, either a 1.6 or a 2 litre with BHP estimated between the low to mid hundreds. Diesel power is likely to be the most popular choice for buyers, the XV’s engine is taken from the latest Forester and is a 148bhp 2 litre boxer diesel featuring lots of tweaks to make it super eco-friendly. All the engines will feature stop/start with Subaru claiming the systems on the petrol engines start up quicker than on rivals, only time will tell if that statement is true.
Subaru’s new XV is due for release early in 2012. And despite the fact it has looks only a mother could love it might just be the car to resurrect Subaru’s image of building honest, reasonably priced, practical cars for families and farmers alike. And finally on a foot note let’s hope someone at Subaru decides to shove the Impreza’s 2.5 litre turbo engine in it, with 300bhp it would be going so fast you wouldn’t notice how ugly it was.