New Subaru XV on a

mission

Subaru XV, 2018, off road, front
Subaru XV, 2018, off road, side
Subaru XV, 2018, off road, rear
Subaru XV, 2018, interior
Subaru XV, 2018, boot
Subaru XV, 2018, Eyesight safety cameras
Subaru XV, 2018, display screen
Subaru XV, 2018, rear seats
Subaru XV, 2018, crash test

THE Subaru XV is an SUV with a job to do - and that's to help rebuild the Japanese car maker's image in the UK.

Tough trading in the past 12 months saw Subaru notch up just 2,665 sales in Britain in 2017, a tiny share of the new car market.

That's a slump of some 25 per cent compared to 2016 in a market that overall fell by 5.6 per cent during 2017.

Now the brand - imported into Britain by International Motors based in the Midlands - is going on the offensive with a new XV which defies its tiny status in the booming SUV sector.

The new XV has already been recognised as one of the safest vehicles on the road, graded in the Euro NCAP crash tests as the Safest Small Family Car of all the models evaluated in 2017.

With a skin robust enough to withstand a 56mph impact from a 2.5-tonne block without penetrating the passenger compartment, Subaru has proved the XV's rigid strength pays dividends.

Compared to the previous XV - launched in Britain five years ago - the newcomer is not only as safe as houses but much better to drive, performs handsomely on and off road and priced from £24,995 is highly competitive.

It's also right on trend on the techno front with full smartphone compatibility, an eight-inch high resolution touchscreen and a 4.3-inch LCD information display on the dashboard.

Two engines are available, both petrol with the four model line up starting off with a 1.6-litre and topping out with a 2.0-litre, both mated to Subaru's very capable Lineartronic CVT transmission.

All are four-wheel-drive and have an electronic traction system Subaru calls X-Mode which makes the XV particularly potent over harsh terrain.

On road, the new models feel much more precise and positive staying taut through corners and there was nothing lacking from the 2.0-litre engine we sampled.

As with all Subarus the engines have a flat-four Boxer layout which all helps when it comes to handling with a lower than normal centre of gravity.

Overall fuel economy came back at an average of 36.2mpg while the official figure is stated at 40.9mpg with emissions of 155g/km.

Performance data for the 2.0-litre is 0 to 60 in 10.4 seconds with a maximum of `120mph and the 1.6 is not far behind at 13.9 seconds with a top speed of 109mph. It is also slightly more economical at 44.1mpg (145g/km).

For a medium sized SUV the XV has above par handling characteristics and off-road it is a proper mud-plugger conquering some atrocious conditions without issue.

As all-rounders go this is up with the best - and that includes offerings from the likes of Volkswagen, Honda and even Land Rover.

Leather trim is available on top range SE Premium models - priced from £28,495 for the 2.0-litre - and all versions are smartly appointed. An electronic parking brake is now standard replacing a traditional handbrake and overall the cabin is nicely clutter free and much improved.

All XVs are also fitted with Subaru's Eyesight camera based safety system which uses forward facing stereo lenses mounted on the windscreen either side of the rear view mirror to monitor what is going on in front of the vehicle and identify potential hazards.

The advantage of the camera set up is that the car ‘knows' what is ahead differentiating between a vehicle or a pedestrian for example and priming the onboard avoidance systems accordingly.

Other aspects of the safety suite include automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, lane departure, blind spot monitors and cross traffic alerts.

Of Subaru's 2,665 sales last year the previous XV accounted for 555 and why the figure is so meagre bemuses.

The new XV is head and shoulders ahead of the previous model and pleasantly styled - a proper SUV and one of the safest you can get.

Should this not do the trick and put Subaru back on course then something is seriously wrong.

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