THE Subaru Levorg first went on sale in the UK towards the end of 2015.
Complete with Subaru's renowned symmetrical all-wheel drive system and powered by a new 1.6-litre engine, it was the spiritual successor to the manufacturer's much loved fourth-generation Legacy Tourer.
For 2017, Subaru has made a few noticeable tweaks. The Lineartronic Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) is now much smoother-changing and Subaru's engineers have done a great job on sound-proofing - the cabin is library-like in its quietness.
However, the most important change is the introduction of EyeSight, Subaru's driver assistance system. While systems from other manufacturers use various sensor technologies such as radar, EyeSight uses stereo-camera technology to monitor the road and traffic ahead for potential hazards.
It is the only system which can actually identify a potential danger - a bike, animal or pedestrian - and produce a colour image.
Eyesight - the driver''s ‘second pair of eyes' if you will - also includes adaptive cruise control, land departure warnings and lane keep assist as well as a pre-collision braking system and pre-collision throttle management, which works by notifying the driver, visually and audibly, if they select drive instead of reverse and the car is parked facing an obstacle. The system will also cut engine output to help avoid a frontal collision.
This adds to the Subaru Rear Vehicle Detection system, which helps you to change lanes on a motorway or dual carriageway safely or detect hard-to-see hazards when completing low speed manoeuvres such as reversing out of a parking space.
Also standard is Vehicle Dynamics Control, Subaru's equivalent to electronic stability control - also upgraded for 2017 - which works in tandem with Subaru's excellent all-wheel drive system. Both are also combined with Active Torque Vectoring which effectively brakes the inside wheels under cornering and apportions greater torque to the outside of the car, reducing understeer and oversteer to allow a more predictable and controlled course through corners. Grip is immense.
Secure and stable, the Levorg is much keener to drive than your average family estate. The compact shape of the 1.6-litre Direct Injection Turbo (DIT) Boxer petrol engine means it's located low in the engine bay, resulting in a lower centre of gravity to minimise body roll and improve road holding. In fact, body roll seems not just to have been minimised, more disappeared altogether.
The four-cylinder engine produces 250Nm of torque across a wide range so, despite its relative bulk, the Levorg is no slouch, accelerating from 0-62mph in 8.9 seconds. Emissions are rated at 164g/km and it officially returns nearly 40mpg though that may be a little ambitious in everyday use.
It comes with SI-Drive, a custom driving mode system which allows drivers to select between two modes to alter engine and throttle response and the characteristics of the six-speed Lineartronic transmission.
The system's default Intelligent (I) mode monitors driving conditions to deliver optimum fuel efficiency and smooth power delivery, as well as the greatest possible control on low grip surfaces or in the snow.
When activated, Sport (S) mode, delivers more direct throttle response and more precise rev control for more enthusiastic driving. In this mode, the Lineartronic transmission will hold on to its pre-programmed ‘gear' ratios for longer for more decisive acceleration, and suppresses unnecessary gear shifts while cornering. It also enables quicker down-shifts for acceleration immediately after braking.
However, that dynamic performance is combined with estate car practicality and one of the most refined cabins ever found in a Subaru with plenty of quality, soft touch materials. Comfortable, leather-trimmed heated sports seats come as standard as does the company's new easy-to-use 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment and navigation system.
While the Levorg is smaller than the old Legacy, it offers greater practicality. Not only is there greater leg, head and shoulder room but the 522-litre boot - 1,446 litres with the rear seats down - provides ample room for anything from sports equipment and cycles to luggage and dogs.
As a practical family car, there's also storage throughout, with cubby holes in front armrests and door pockets, a large central tray and a large console box under the central front armrest.
It comes with only one trim level - GT - but that offers standard equipment including auto LED headlamps, rain-sensing wipers, front and rear fog lamps, 18-inch alloy wheels, privacy glass and a subtle roof spoiler.
There's keyless entry and, once inside, push-button start, four USB ports, dual-zone aircon and a rear parking camera.