A SECOND-generation Subaru XV has arrived at Geneva, featuring beefed-up safety, more mature looks, and what the Japanese carmaker claims is even more comfort.
Featuring the first major redesign since it launched globally in 2012, the Subaru XV jumps across to the carmaker’s new global platform that also underpins the recently launched Subaru Impreza small passenger vehicle, and is due on sale in Australia mid-year.
Its new look doesn’t stray that far from the jacked-up hatchback design that made the previous XV one of the best-looking city-friendly SUVs on the market, although the grille is now much more upright than for the model it will replace.
Under its bonnet, the XV moves to a much-improved version of Subaru’s “boxer” 2.0-litre flat-four engine. The carmaker says the 115kW/196Nm engine (it makes an extra 5kW but no extra torque over the model it will replace) is now smoother and quieter, and paired with a continuously variable transmission that includes three pre-programmed gears.
The new body is stronger and more rigid than the one it replaces, meaning that when it is combined with a 5mm lower centre of gravity, the new XV should perform better on the road. It resists the trend to front-wheel-drive to stick with Subaru’s all-wheel-drive system on all models.
According to Subaru, the 2017 XV has achieved what it says is an enhanced dynamic feel. “Steering and pedal feedback, vehicle response, noise and vibration have been refined to achieve a positive driver experience,” it said.
Subaru has also beefed up the XV’s off-road ability, addressing one of the weak points of the previous car that was more comfortable tackling roads to the local cafe than the favourite canoeing spot. The X-Mode, which can brake individual wheels to improve traction and even control engine revs, “enhances off road ability of [the XV’s] Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive, offering increased SUV capability,” it says.
Inside, the XV’s front seats have been revised for what Subaru claims is “improved quality”, and now feature grey trim “to enhance XV’s character”. The multimedia and sat-nav interface steps up to an eight-inch touchscreen display. Orange stitching on the dash adds a contrast.
The XV also adds Subaru’s Eyesight system, which uses two cameras just like a human’s eyes to spot danger and automatically jump on the brakes to avoid a crash. It’s also now linked to the headlights, helping control the high beams so the XV doesn’t dazzle oncoming drivers.
The Subaru XV is one of the stronger performers in Australia’s small SUV segment, up against the likes of the sharp Mazda CX-3 and ageing Mitsubishi ASX, the value-packed Nissan Qashqai and the cheap Holden Trax.