By Mike Torpey on 2018-02-18 - Driving Force news editor and responsible for organising our daily output. He was staff motoring editor of the Liverpool Echo for 20 years.
Subaru XV 2.0i SE
ASK any one of the growing throng of SUV drivers what made them switch from a hatchback, saloon or estate model and there's usually a combination of factors.
Styling apart, they always include the all-round aura of confidence gained from a raised driving position and, often topping the list, a feeling of safety.
When it comes to the latter, Japanese brand Subaru is well placed to attract buyers to its XV compact crossover model.
The latest XV, unveiled at the 2017 Geneva Motor Show, has been scooping safety accolades since its launch last summer - including the Grand Prix Award for achieving the highest score on record in Japan's New Car Assessment Programme crash safety evaluation tests.
Perhaps more appealing though is something called Eyesight, Subaru's optical advanced collision avoidance technology.
While systems from other manufacturers use various sensors like radar, microwave or camera, EyeSight operates via a pair of camera lenses to the left and right of the rear-view mirror that together create a stereoscopic image.
A core feature is Pre-Collision braking which reliably captures pedestrians in dark clothing in unlit areas - such as the countryside - and when needed initiates emergency braking.
Up to a speed of 28mph accidents can be completely avoided and the severity significantly reduced at higher speeds.
That's not all though. Subaru's rear vehicle detection system is also fitted as standard on the XV, offering blind spot detection, lane change assistance and help with reversing.
Otherwise, changes to the XV present a pretty much completely new vehicle from the one launched in 2012.
For one thing, it is built on the company's new global platform which has been engineered to be 70 per cent more rigid, in turn making the car's body and chassis rigidity and stronger.
That becomes more apparent when you drive the SV, which is more engaging and agile as a result.
The latest models come with a newly-developed 2.0-litre direct injection Boxer petrol engine and all-wheel drive is standard on every car along with the marque's X-MODE system which boosts its off road ability.
We averaged 36.2 miles per gallon over 500 miles of mixed motoring that included a high percentage of urban travel.
That fuel return may not match the official 52.3mpg figure of the 2.0-litre diesel that's also up for grabs, but it wasn't too shabby for a car that spent most of its time with a full complement plus baggage aboard.
And to that end the XV is designed to both accommodate and please. The tested model's seats - in black and grey with attractive orange stitching - are comfortable, there's excellent rear passenger space and a centre rear passenger isn't compromised by a rigid perch.
Headroom is excellent all round, the dash is simple and well laid out with piano black and alloy inserts and there are plenty of stowage options varying from cup holders in the flip-down rear armrest to containers in all four doors.
Subaru XV 2.0i SE Lineartronic
Mechanical: 150PS, 1,995cc 4-cyl petrol engine driving four wheels via Lineartronic CVT transmission
Max Speed: 116mph
0-62mph: 10.7 seconds
Combined MPG: 43.5
Insurance Group: 21
C02 emissions: 151g/km
Bik rating: 25%
Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles
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