Crosstrek heads new

Subaru charge

Subaru Crosstrek, 2024, front, off road
Subaru Crosstrek, 2024, nose
Subaru Crosstrek, 2024, front
Subaru Crosstrek, 2024, side
Subaru Crosstrek, 2024, off road
Subaru Crosstrek, 2024, interior

YOU could make a sound argument that Japanese car maker Subaru is the most under appreciated brand in the automotive business.

Intensely proud of its status as a niche manufacturer, the company is enjoying a new lease of life in the UK and ready to take a lead in the charge towards electrification.

There's plenty on the agenda too for a brand which produced 874,000 vehicles last year - not bad for a marque that clearly doesn't design cars for a mass audience - and is targeting one million this year.

Four new SUV models are planned for Subaru's fully electric line-up by the end of 2026, two of which will be new to the UK, and that number will double by 2028.

Just four months ago the latest model from the Japanese brand hit UK streets in the shape of the new Crosstrek, a vehicle with trademark Subaru styling in that it doesn't look like most mainstream compact SUVs.

Replacing the outgoing Subaru XV, the newcomer signals the entry level to the company's range and is available in two trim grades - Limited and Touring - with prices from £34,290.

It comes with a 10 per cent stiffer chassis for improved dynamic performance and ride quality, and like all Scooby models has permanent all-wheel drive.

Another valuable standard feature is the brand's latest Eyesight driver assist tech, equipped with a new stereo camera with a much wider recognition range.

It means the system can identify bicycles and pedestrians at intersections sooner and, when needed, alert the driver and apply brakes to avoid collisions. You also get the useful Blind Spot detection.

Subaru believes the concepts of adventure and versatility are at the heart of the Crosstrek's appeal, so it was apt that the manufacturer's experience event included a challenging off-road course in addition to the main driving routes.

The course, adjacent to Rudding Park in Harrogate, was quite tight but included some challengingly steep hills and inclines - including a section the instructors dubbed the ‘hill of death' - as well as a muddy area that formed the approach to a disused railway tunnel.

All four of the Subaru models made available for driving - the Crosstrek, Outback, Forester and electric Solterra - tackled the terrain and all were fitted as standard with hi-tech systems that made light of the conditions.

Designed with active lifestyles in mind, the Crosstrek's 220mm ground clearance is greater than that of many SUVs, yet it maintains a comfortably low step-in height for both front and rear passenger entry.

Best of all though is the driver-selectable X-MODE with Hill Descent Control set-up which maximises wheel control on slippery surfaces and steep inclines.

And the higher spec Touring variants upgrade to dual-function X-MODE for heightened capability in a wider range of conditions, while all models feature Incline Start Assist, which briefly holds the vehicle while the driver pulls away from a stop on a hill.

Beneath the bonnet is the brand's proven 2.0-litre four-cylinder e-BOXER petrol engine producing 136ps and capable of accelerating from 0-62 in 10.8 seconds and on to a top speed of 123mph. Its official fuel return is 36.8 miles per gallon.

Included on all trim levels is a Lineartronic CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission) which is both slick and quiet while the Touring trim model, a £2,000 upgrade, also features a manual mode with steering wheel paddle shifters.

Out on the road, the Crosstrek is quite lively to drive, feeling smooth, assured, nicely balanced, with a degree of punch when needed.

There's decent space inside for four - five at a push - and oddment space around the car includes bottle holders in all four doors, plenty of cup holders, trays, slots, a lidded container and glovebox.

Load space is handy too, the 315-litre boot area expanding to 922 litres of usable area with the 60:40 seatbacks folded down while the tailgate has a low lift-over height for easier access. All models also come with raised roof rails.

Every Crosstrek is well kitted out too, the likes of an 11.6-inch multimedia touch screen with wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, 17-inch diamond turned alloy wheels, automatic LED steering-responsive headlamps, a rear-view camera, heated front seats and a raft of upgraded safety kit on all models.

You can add refinement to the list as well - on a compact crossover that looks good, drives well and stands out from the ordinary.

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