TELL ME ABOUT THIS CAR
Two years ago, Subaru decided to drop the Legacy wagon from Australian showrooms after claiming buyers were walking past traditional family load-luggers to buy jacked-up SUV-styled versions. Skip to today, and Subaru says it has discovered a clutch of about 200 buyers a month now keen to walk past SUVs to buy a traditional Legacy wagon, although renamed the Levorg this time around. It’s expensive – priced from $42,990 – but small enough to appeal to female buyers and with enough under-bonnet performance to keep males happy, Subaru says.
- It’s not an SUV. Instead, you get a sharply styled, long, low and sleek station wagon that is guaranteed to stand out on the daily school run.
- It’s powerful. Under the bonnet is an engine shared with the Subaru WRX: a high-performance sedan that has real cred on racetracks and rally stages worldwide. It’s a fun, sprightly engine.
- All Levorg models – the $42,990 2.0GT, $48,890 2.0GT-S and $52,890 2.0GT-S Spec B – have Subaru’s EyeSight driver assist system that can automatically jump on the brakes to stop you from running into the car in front. This technology is now up to its third generation, and is also standard fit on the Liberty sedan and Outback SUV.
- Despite its sports-hardened 197kW engine, the Levorg is P-plater friendly. The 2.0GT produces 0.128kW/kg and the 2.0GT-S 0.124kW/kg. There’s no manual gearbox option, so you only need to have an automatic licence to drive it.
- The Levorg’s brakes include something called active torque vectoring that helps with cornering. As you turn into a corner, the Levorg automatically applies a bit of braking to the inside wheels to help rotate the station wagon.
- The Levorg is based on the Liberty station wagon, which has a top five-star safety rating.
- Subaru says some customers don’t like dark interiors. To cater for them, the Levorg offers a “Pearl White” option that was first launched on the Japanese market.
- You’re buying Aussie smarts. The Levorg rides on a suspension set-up that’s unique to Australia after Subaru said it had to adapt the wagon to our unique – read: rougher than anywhere else in the world – roads.
- The rear seat is pretty roomy. Both knee space behind, and toe space under, the front seats is enough for adults.
- If you’re a DINK (dual income, no kids), young family or empty nester looking at an Audi, BMW, or Skoda, Subaru reckons you’re ripe for the Levorg. As long as you don’t want an SUV – a class of buyers Subaru labels the “SUV rejectors”.
- It’s expensive. An entry-level Mazda CX-9, with seven seats, is $500 cheaper and arguably a lot more car for the money. You must really hate SUVs to lean towards a Levorg.
- Fuel economy. The Levorg officially uses 8.7 litres per 100 kilometres, which – for a 2.0-litre engine – is well off the pace of some rivals with similar-sized powerplants. It doesn’t even have an idle-stop system to save fuel when you’re stuck in traffic or at a red light.
- The Dunlop tyres are very noisy. Engineers went for performance over comfort with their tyre choice, and while the tyres hang on like limpets, the downside is lots of roar inside the cabin over coarse chip roads.
- The suspension is a bit rough at low speeds. Because it plays up the performance angle and to get the Levorg to stay safe at higher speeds, Subaru’s engineers have had to make some sacrifices. It has left the Levorg with a low-speed ride that feeds every small lump and bump into the cabin, but delivers a high-speed ride that is pretty good.
- If you’re a driving enthusiast, the continuously variable transmission – a type of gearbox that helps to stretch fuel efficiency – sucks a lot of fun out of the experience.
- There’s no keyless option for the Levorg’s tailgate, so you need to put down the shopping and fox the key fob from your pocket to hold down a button and open it.
ANY RIVALS I SHOULD CONSIDER?
Things have just become interesting in the small sports station wagon segment, with Škoda launching a facelifted Octavia RS wagon in Australia. Priced a little higher than the Levorg, it isn’t as powerful but is much more fuel-efficient and contains a bit more commuter-friendly technology such as active cruise control that can keep the car a set distance from the one in front. If you’re feeling any Aussie pride, the Levorg is also the same price as a V6-engined Holden Calais Sportwagon. For something different, Renault sells the Megane GT220 Premium wagon, but only with a manual gearbox.