Introduction: Welcome to Subaru’s hybrid era
Distance driven 15km
If hybrid powertrains were a school camp swimming pool, Toyota’s Prius would have been the kid who ran straight up to the 10-metre board and bombed in before anyone else has barely finished pulling on their boardies.
At the other end of the pool, however, and some considerable time later, Subaru was quietly wading into the shallowest part and trying not to make too much of splash.
While Toyota is unequivocally the vocal early adopter of hybridisation, others such as Subaru have taken longer to dip a toe in the water. Neither is necessarily the right or wrong entrance as long as you stay afloat once you’ve taken the plunge, right?
Toyota and a handful of others have laid the ground for hybrid cars, building public interest along the way, but now other brands are getting in on the action. Has the delay been a disadvantage to Subaru or has the Japanese brand swooped in at exactly the right moment?
That’s what the next few months with the Subaru XV Hybrid are all about - Subaru is a relative latecomer to the electrified car world but it has recently made its debut with the Forester Hybrid and XV Hybrid.
We want to see if those years abstaining from hybrid models has allowed the company to watch from the sidelines, learning from the earlier adopters and the market’s response to them.
Is the XV Hybrid a well-executed and refined addition to the growing hybrid fleet available in Australia, or a benign first attempt that has some catching up to do? Let’s find out.
XV Hybrid - what you get for your cash
If you want to get the lowdown on the XV and all the reasons we rate it in ‘standard’ form since it launched in 2017 you can read all about it here, but let’s cut straight to what makes this new version unique and our focus over the coming months.
Its most obvious defining feature is, of course, the ‘e-boxer’ hybrid powertrain which takes the standard 2.0-litre naturally-aspirated flat-four petrol engine with 110kW and 196Nm and discreetly slots in a 12kW/66Nm electric motor in the transmission to boost the grunt sent to all four wheels via Subaru’s proprietary full-time four-wheel-drive system.
Its maker says the boost elevates the XV’s off-road ability in combination with the X-Mode driving selector, while chopping fuel consumption by about seven percent for an average figure of 6.5 litres per 100km.
Both are claims we will be testing during the XV's tenure with the WhichCar team.
As far as specification goes, the XV is based on the mid-range 2.0i-L but the addition of the hybrid extras bumps the price up about another $4000.
It’s not quite that straightforward, though, as it also gains additional active safety features.
But even with its price premium, a $35,580 XV is still affordable and still brings a lot to the table.
Read next: Subaru XV complete range
Beyond its subtle facelift and unique-to-the-variant Lagoon Blue paint, you might mistake the newest addition to the XV stable for any other, and that might be the unexpected genius behind Subaru’s hybrid foray.
A subtle enhancement of what was already an excellent package of car dynamics and wagon practicality paired with go-anywhere ability, could push this Subaru to the top of the pack.
Read next: Full Subaru XV Hybrid pricing and features
While our first impressions of the XV Hybrid have been promising, the only way to investigate Subaru’s economy and all-terrain claims is time in the saddle. Let’s go.