Subaru XV sports

fresh image

Subaru XV, front action 2
Subaru XV, front action
Subaru XV, side action
Subaru XV, rear
Subaru XV, boot
Subaru XV, dashboard
Subaru XV, car in landscape
Subaru XV, car in village
Subaru XV, rear seats
Subaru XV, front seats

SOMETIMES sporting glory can hang on a bit too long - you have to live with success years after your life headed in a different direction.

Or so we're told by honoured athletes who made the headlines some time ago but want to be known for what they're up to today.

If you think of Subaru at all it will be as a rally winner - only one in three people quizzed by the company associated the name with all-wheel drive cars.

Most of us still think Subaru means blue and gold rally cars pounding through forests at unlikely speeds. But the last time a Subaru won the world rally championship was.... in 1997.

These days the company - while naturally proud of its sporting achievements - would rather be known for more everyday virtues, like getting a Subaru owner to work or the school gates on the worst of winter roads.

Well, the latest XV crossover SUV would undoubtedly do all that - and carry a 12 bore and a saddle or two across a grass field to where the pheasants were hiding, or the horses waited for their exercise.

Subaru has ploughed a lonely furrow in design terms, sticking to its mantra of all-wheel drive and horizontally opposed 'boxer' engines that keep their weight low down, which ought to help on corners.

The company is so engineering-led that it seems almost shy about the virtues of its range - so reliable and long lived that dealers must wish more went wrong with the cars and they came back to see them more often.

It's shy about telling the world when it makes changes too. The XV was mildly updated earlier in 2016, but I bet you didn't know.

Nothing too drastic, with small improvements to fuel consumption of both engines on offer - 2.0 petrol and diesel - a very gentle upgrade inside with metallic and piano black and contrast stitching upping perceived quality, while outside you might spot a new boot spoiler, grille and bumper aimed at a more rugged look.

Most buyers go for the diesel and will appreciate its improved fuel consumption (up from 50.4mpg to 52.3mpg) and lowered CO2 figures, down from 146g/km to 141g/km, which also drops the business user tax band to 25 per cent.

Performance remains unchanged, with the diesel topping out at 124mph and hitting 62mph in 9.3 seconds - both figures likely to be less important to potential buyers than the 46.5mpg seen on a test drive over a mix of roads.

Longer gear ratios and slightly sharper steering are the sort of subtle improvements you might expect from Subaru and they duly appear on this latest XV, which ranges in price from £21,995 for a 2.0 petrol model to £26,995 for the 2.0 diesel tested here in SE Premium trim.

There are two trim levels, SE and SE Premium. Every XV has automatic air-conditioning, 17-inch alloy wheels, daytime running lights, heated front seats and a Subaru Starlink infotainment system that comes with a seven inch touchscreen that includes satellite navigation on the top spec.

The top of the range SE Premium comes in at £26,995 and adds a sun roof, keyless entry (keep the key in your pocket), powered driver's seat, leather seats and the sat nav.

Subaru continues its all-wheel drive philosophy in the XV, with all four wheels translating underbonnet action into forward motion, all the time. So snowy roads or muddy tracks should hold no terrors, so long as the car has enough ground clearance available.

If it sounds like a thoroughly practical sort of machine, then you've caught the mood of the XV. Which means there's nothing frivolous about the interior, where solid, durable plastic is favoured over anything hinting at boutique style.

That means its either drab or sensible, depending on taste.

But this is car that's meant to be taken seriously. A five year warranty shows that Subaru is serious too.

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