SUBARU sales are showing a remarkable upturn, with much credit going to the XV compact crossover which has received a number of upgrades for this model year.
On sale since 2012, the Subaru XV stands out in its sector by benefiting from permanent All-Wheel Drive as standard.
The XV also boasts the highest ground clearance and is among the lightest vehicles in its class, aiding the car's genuine off-road ability, while a low centre of gravity enhances on-road handling.
This is just typical of Subaru which is a very performance and capability-minded manufacturer which has cut its teeth on cars like the WRX series of highly successful rally cars using the unconventional horizontally-opposed or boxer engines.
It offers UK buyers a choice of four-cylinder boxer engines - a 2.0-litre petrol and 2.0-litre diesel - and two transmissions (six-speed manual and six-speed CVT automatic).
The XV is among the best in class for fuel efficiency, with the 2.0-litre diesel recording 50.4mpg and CO2 emissions of 146g/km (combined cycle).
The petrol models receive enhanced damping performance on both front and rear suspension systems for improved ride quality, as well as greater stability and control over poor road surfaces, plus engine modifications.
Diesel models feature the addition of a sound-proof cover in the bulkhead that separates the engine and passenger compartments, further insulating the cabin from engine noise.
The power steering system in the Subaru XV has been optimised to improve stability and feel.
A new inflating dynamic damper system reduces steering wheel and column vibration, while the electrically-assisted steering system has been fine-tuned to provide more weight, greater straight-line steering feel and a more linear steering response at all speeds and steering angles. The changes to the steering system are designed to give drivers greater confidence in the car at all speeds.
There are further improvements in crash safety performance.
A Tyre Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) and Gear Shift Indicator, are both now fitted as standard to every model in the range.
My drive was in a Subaru XV Black, a new limited edition variant available with either the 2.0-litre diesel engine mated to a six-speed manual transmission, or the 2.0-litre petrol unit and a Lineartronic automatic transmission.
Exclusively finished in Crystal Black Silica paint, the XV Black offers a number of visual additions unique to the special edition model, which are designed to boost the car's rugged, 4x4 appeal. These include front, rear and side silver-resin underguards, front and rear mudflaps, a cargo step panel and a foldable cargo tray. Inside, the Black model is fitted with heavy-duty rubber floor mats.
The all-wheel-drive XV Black is priced at £24,495 on-the-road for the 2.0i Lineartronic and £24,995 for the 2.0 Boxer diesel, and is based on the existing SE model.