I'M an unashamedly big fan of the Subaru's XV e-Boxer after an expedition a couple of years back which saw me driving it more than 1,300 miles in snow, gale force wind and driving rain. It performed heroically throughout.
Since then, the popular compact crossover has undergone a few exterior design tweaks and some more driver assist safety systems have been added.
Buyers can still choose from two trim levels - SE or SE Premium. Standard equipment on both trims includes what permanent all-wheel drive, the company's excellent EyeSight driver assistance safety technology, automatic headlights equipped with high beam assist, 18-inch alloy wheels, heated front seats, an easy to use, intuitive eight-inch multifunction colour touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, DAB radio, Bluetooth plus keyless entry and a push button start system.
The XV e-Boxer was awarded the maximum five-star Euro NCAP rating because of the suite of driver-assist and safety features as standard. The EyeSight driver assist technology uses two stereo cameras mounted either side of the rear-view mirror and monitors for hazards up to 110 metres ahead. Hence it controls adaptive cruise control, pre-collision braking, lane departure warning and lane keep assist.
The SE Premium adds leather seats, a comfortable eight-way power adjustable driver's seat, satnav and sunroof.
Subaru has also tweaked the XV's X-Mode and Si-Drive functions. X-Mode now features a dual function button to select Snow/Dirt mode for slippery surfaces or D.Snow/Mud mode for even more treacherous road conditions where vehicles could easily become stuck.
It's probably worth mentioning here that the XV has been awarded 4x4 Magazine's Crossover Estate of the Year award twice.
The Si-Drive allows you to select a more sporty driving style or something more fuel-efficient.
Subaru has also improved - marginally - the facelifted XV's comfort and handling by developing new coil springs and dampers which reduce the amount of body movement for a smoother ride.
The compact crossover's powertrain combines a 2.0-litre direct injection horizontally opposed petrol engine with an electric motor. A lithium-ion battery unit is mounted within the boot floor and allows for pure-electric driving at speeds of up to 25mph - handy around town. The motor is placed near the vehicle's centre of gravity and the battery positioned above the rear axle, which plants the car on the road and aids handling.
It officially returns just 35.7mpg - nowhere near best in class - but I managed under 32.2mpg and, to be fair, most of that time, I was getting more than 33mpg.
One niggle is that it's not the most practical car in its class. Though there's plenty of space for front and rear passengers, the boot is only capable of holding 340 litres, though this does rise to 1,173 with the rear seats folded.
Another is the Japanese company's insistence on sticking with its CVT gearbox. It works fine cruising on the motorway but need a quick burst of speed for overtaking or tackling a steep hill and you get a huge flare in revs and engine noise which doesn't match the car's forward progress.
That said, the XV's ride and handling balance is well-judged, the steering feels precise and body roll is ably controlled. The suspension set up soaks ups bump on the road well too. And it soaked up the aforementioned long trek with aplomb.