Two weekends ago I decided to go and have a look at the new Subaru XV down at City Subaru. It was supposed to just be a casual look. Nothing else. But—as is usually the case—the salesman bullied me into taking it for a test drive. So, I thought I may as well. Then I could see for myself if I thought the engine was underpowered; as is the opinion of just about every review I have read.
Of the twenty or so reviews I have read from top to bottom on the XV there was only one where the reviewer did not specifically state that the 2.0 litre powerplant did not make the grade. This one reviewer was kind enough to state that he thought the engine was just powerful enough—but only just.
So I took the XV-S for a wee test drive, but I explained to the salesperson that it is hard to tell how much you like, or dislike, a car with a 10 minute drive around a couple of back streets. Then, completely unexpectedly, he arranged for me to have the car the following weekend for two days.
After driving the car over a weekend and doing 600 kilometres in it I am happy to say that the MY18 XV is a very nice car. For a small SUV it has loads of space inside. Easily enough for four adults.
It is just the right amount of quiet inside the cabin. Not too quiet, but quiet enough to have a conversation at 100 kph without having to raise your voice.
The ride and handling are stunningly good. I can see why some reviews have given the XV higher marks for ride and handling than the BMW X1 or the VW Tiguan.
The progressive brakes are awesome. They did take a little bit of getting used to.
Also, for anyone actually intending to go off-road, the XV is consistently referred to as the best small SUV for off-roaders. This is helped by its class leading ground clearance, X-mode hill-climb/hill-descent, and Subaru’s award winning all-wheel-drive system.
But then there is that engine. Sad to say, I am in that very large group of people who are of the opinion that the engine is just not quite powerful enough. In fact, when you look at the specifications on the Subaru Australia site, the 2.5 litre Forester is almost a whole second faster to 100 kph than the XV. The XV is put at 10.4 seconds and the Forester at 9.5.
I think I will wait until Subaru either put the 2.5 or a small turbo into the XV—assuming I don’t go for something else in the meantime.