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All-New Subaru XV

2nd December, 2017


The Subaru XV, when it was first launched 5 years ago, was a model that proved to be an unexpected success for the brand. Subaru wasn’t selling many cars in Malaysia for many years, partly due to its models being imported from Japan and being expensive.

The XV, being assembled locally, was more competitively priced and brought the brand back into the spotlight, increasing sales numbers quickly. It also came at a time when buyers looking for something a little more rugged than the average sedan or hatchback, but weren’t ready to commit to a full-sized SUV or pickup truck.

With the all-new Subaru XV, the fact that it’s a second generation may not be immediately obvious as the styling looks similar to the first generation. The new headlights and tail lights are perhaps the more obvious differences, along with a large black front grille that conforms to modern day styling trends.

This new model picks up where the last left off, offering premium features and build quality for a very competitive price. It may not look like a huge leap forward on the design front, but the design was already pretty sharp for its time and it looks far from dated.

This all-new XV sits on the Subaru Global Platform which will also be used for other models to come. It is 70% more rigid than the outgoing model and has 40% more absorption in the event of a crash. So good is this new structure that the XV scored top marks in the recent Japan New Car Assessment Program (JNCAP) Collision Safety Performance Assessment, taking home the Grand Prix Award. It also helps that the XV comes with 7 airbags as standard.

The rigidity and strength of the new platform also makes the car handle better when demanded of it. Both qualities are important, although its predecessor was pretty impressive as it was. The engine sits a little lower, resulting in better handling as well. A quicker steering ratio also makes the driving experience a little more enjoyable and engaging.

In terms of powertrain, the new XV comes with a 2.0-litre naturally-aspirated flat-four engine (also called ‘Boxer’), now having direct fuel injection. Similar in displacement to the engine it had before, revisions make it 12 kg lighter and it has a 6 ps bump in power for a total of 156 ps.

The Lineatronic CVT it is connected to has 7 virtual ratios and a manual override system. Revised construction has shed 7.8 kg of weight.

Like all Subaru models today, the XV has the company’s Symmetrical All-wheel Drive system which gives balanced distribution of power to all four wheels. There is now an X-MODE as well and this basically manages various systems to make driving easier in difficult conditions.

The X-MODE system is similar to what you might find in higher-end SUVs. It manages the engine, brakes, and all-wheel drive system in order to maintain optimum traction. Hill Descent Control is also included for steep downhill drives which can be tricky. Incidentally, long before other companies offered a Hillstart Assist system, Subaru already had a ‘hill-holder’ feature way back in the 1980s.

On the inside, the layout is also mildly changed and now there’s a large 8-inch touchscreen display which dominates the middle of the dashboard. It is very much in line with Subaru’s current interior design, and the materials look and feel good enough to make the XV feel more premium than its pricing would suggest.

Rear legroom doesn’t seem to be drastically different from the previous model but it’s certainly adequate for rear occupants even if they can’t stretch their legs completely.

Currently, the locally-assembled XV is offered in two different variants: 2.0i, and 2.0i-P. The lower-priced 2.0i (RM121,881 without insurance) has plenty of equipment as standard, including paddle shifters, cruise control, an electric driver’s seat, an electric parking brake, and a rearview camera.

For another RM7,049 for the 2.0i-P, you also get dual-zone air-conditioning, swivelling headlamps, a multifunction display and aluminium pedals. In terms of safety, both variants are identical with the aforementioned 7 airbags, ABS with EBD, and Vehicle Dynamics Control (a form of electronic stability control).

The XV is a perfectly adequate car for largely urban use with the occasional venture off-road. The overall dimensions make it easy to manoeuvre in tight spaces, while the retention of all-wheel drive across the range and the X-MODE make it versatile enough when you’re in a tough situation.

Add to that the fact that the XV drives and rides like a passenger car, and you have a proposition that’s difficult to resist. It’s worth a look but if you want one, deliveries will only start from early next year but bookings can be made now.

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