Subaru Levorg GT

1.6i

Subaru Levorg, side
Subaru Levorg, front
Subaru Levorg, rear
Subaru Levorg, nose
Subaru Levorg, side static
Subaru Levorg, boot
Subaru Levorg, side action
Subaru Levorg, rear action
Subaru Levorg, dashboard

OUTDOOR types, vets and geologists apparently love Subaru estates.

Their rather anonymous styling, sound engineering and unconventional mechanics hold a certain appeal to intelligent unconformists.

And since the demise of Saab, there have been few options in the shape of quality cars that aren't obvious status symbols in the corporate car park.

Sure, Audi, BMW and Merc turn out some great motors - but their designer-label approach doesn't have universal appea - even if you are neither an explorer, vet nor geologist.

Enter the Subaru Levorg, which is effectively a replacement for the Legacy estate. With its own four-wheel-drive system, a ‘boxer' flat four engine and continuously variable automatic transmission, the Levorg continues Subaru's long tradition of providing an individual take on family motoring.

It is sleekly and aggressively styled with deep front spoiler, side skirts and a muscular-looking bonnet scoop. From the rear, the sharp edging and muscular lines create a strong image.

Despite being slightly more compact than the Legacy, it has even more cabin space. Leg and headroom is ample all round and the boot is generously proportioned, being able to swallow up 1,446 litres of luggage with rear seats folded. Even with five people on board there's room for 522 litres of cargo.

Just one level of trim is available but equipment is ample and includes dual zone air con, sports seats, Bluetooth and sat nav.

The new turbocharged 1.6-litre petrol engine is almost as powerful as the last 2.5-litre unit, and packs greater torque giving the Levorg sufficient clout to polish of 62mph in under nine seconds and go on to a max of 130mph.

But it is disadvantaged by having no diesel option. This sector is dominated by diesel engines which offer greater economy and better towing potential. Nevertheless, the Levorg delivers acceptable mileage - I averaged 34mpg - and it is one of the quietest cars in its class. It's just a shame that the characterful ‘thrum' of the boxer engine is now somewhat muted.

Despite the estate being more family orientated than sporty, its handling is first class with little body roll during cornering and pin-sharp directional changes. The steering is pleasantly weighted and conveys more feel than most estates.

The seven-speed stepped transmission takes a bit of getting used to. Steering wheel paddles are fitted for those who want greater control. Personally, I prefer a good manual six-speed gearbox or a conventional double clutch automatic - either of which would feel more integrated and relaxed.

Standard of fit and finish in the Subaru is excellent with solid switchgear and tactile plastic mouldings that lift the car into a higher class. Piano black finishing on the fascia and some blue stitchwork on the leather steering wheel are nice touches. Overall, there's an impression of tough longevity about the cabin.

Seats are supremely comfortable with plenty of adjustments and the ride standard over average or poor surfaces is first rate.

FAST FACTS

Subaru Levorg GT 1.6i

Price: £27,495

Mechanical:168bhp, 1,598cc, 4cyl petrol engine driving four wheels via automatic gearbox

Max Speed: 130mph

0-62mph: 8.8 seconds

Combined MPG: 39.7

Insurance Group: 24

C02 emissions: 164g/km

Bik rating: 30%

Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles

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