Subaru Levorg GT 1.6

DIT Lineartronic

Subaru Levorg, front
Subaru Levorg, side
Subaru Levorg, rear
Subaru Levorg, front
Subaru Levorg, front
Subaru Levorg, front
Subaru Levorg, rear
Subaru Levorg, interior
Subaru Levorg, boot
Subaru Levorg, boot
Subaru Levorg, boot
Subaru Levorg, interior
Subaru Levorg, interior
Subaru Levorg, interior
Subaru Levorg, engine

SUBARU is something of a niche brand in the UK - and one which seems to revel in defying convention.

If pushed most people would probably identify the marque most with the spitting, snarling Impreza, known as the WRX STI these days, which took the rallying world by storm during the nineties, while a few might also point to some expertise in the SUV market.

The Levorg sits somewhere between the two as a sporty yet robust estate with four wheel drive which arrived at the end of last year as the natural successor to the Japanese manufacturer's Legacy Tourer - discontinued on these shores in 2013.

Based largely on the same architecture as the WRX STI and with a virtually identical front end - including the imposing air intake at the heart of the bonnet - it certainly has a muscular presence.

The extra real estate at the rear is cleverly disguised with a tapering roofline and rising shoulder-line which combine to create a swept-back, dynamic profile while 18-inch alloys, a roof spoiler, twin tailpipes and a shark fin aerial are all in keeping with the WRX image.

The Levorg is powered by a new turbocharged 1.6-litre petrol engine in Subaru's trademark horizontally-opposed ‘boxer' configuration paired to a continuously variable transmission (CVT) - but that's your only option.

And with just one trim level available there's less choice involved in buying a Levorg than there is in your typical referendum.

On the road this combination provides some perky performance, taking the mid-sized estate from 0-62mph in under nine seconds and on to a top speed of 130mph. The CVT gearbox, while not as smooth as a double-clutch automatic, is an improvement on earlier versions and isn't overly intrusive.

The low centre of gravity created by the ‘boxer' engine coupled with Subaru's renowned all-wheel drive system offers great stability and some nimble handling which, although not up to WRX STI excitement levels, makes for an enjoyable and engaging drive.

The cabin is spacious, with good head and legroom all round, and feels light and airy despite the largely dark interior trim and rear privacy glass.

The STI-style sports front seats are heated - the driver's is also electronically adjustable - and look good as well as providing great support and, while Subaru is not known for being at the cutting edge of interior design, this is the company's best effort to date.

Leather upholstery gives an upmarket feel and, typically of Subaru, everything is solidly put together.

Cup holders and personal storage cubbies are plentiful and, in the age of mobile tech, there's no need for any of your gadgets to die on you with no less than four USB jacks and two 12-volt power sockets on board.

Alongside comfort and space comes an impressive amount of load-carrying practicality and versatility, which is a key consideration in any estate car.

At 522 litres the boot trumps that in many of its more mainstream rivals and it also has hidden storage under the floor and a low lip to make loading heavy items easier. The 60/40 split rear seats can quickly be folded flat by pulling a lever in the load bay, with capacity increasing to 1,446 litres.

The one trim level, which Subaru has called GT in a bid to fit the sporty image, does at least come with all the kit you will need.

A seven-inch touchscreen interface takes pride of place with Bluetooth, digital radio, satnav and a rear view camera while other equipment includes dual zone air conditioning, keyless entry and ignition, cruise control and automatic lights and wipers.

The lack of a diesel option is likely to put off company buyers as are fuel consumption and carbon emissions figures which are average at best.

FAST FACTS

Subaru Levorg GT 1.6 DIT Lineartronic

Price: £27,495

Mechanical: 170ps, 1,600cc, 4cyl petrol engine driving four wheels via automatic gearbox

Max Speed: 130mph

0-62mph: 8.9 seconds

Combined MPG: 39.8

Insurance Group: 24

C02 emissions:164g/km

Bik rating:29%

Warranty: 5yrs/100,000 miles

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