Drive – Subaru Impreza XV Review

10 Aug 2014 | Author: | Comments Off on Drive – Subaru Impreza XV Review

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Full safety complement

Outstanding ability on gravel

Compact dimensions are easy to live with


Four-speed auto is off the pace

Average ride and plenty of cabin noise

Steering wheel needs more vertical adjustment

Smallish boot

space-saver spare

Weekday commuter and weekend getaway car #8212; that’s the concept behind Subaru’s new Impreza XV.

Compared with the standard Impreza hatchback, the XV raises the ride height by 30 millimetres and adds some cladding to complete the transformation from orthodox small car to crossover.

Of course, the Subaru Forester and Outback fulfil a similar role but the XV is smaller, cheaper and targeted at a younger audience.


For more on the Subaru range, go to

Price and equipment

The Impreza is better able than most cars to make the transition to soft-roader because it comes standard with all-wheel-drive, as do all Subarus sold in Australia.

Subaru also has credentials in this area, having offered an Impreza RV and Sportswagon in the past.

Priced from $27,490 (plus on-road and dealer costs) as a five-speed manual or $29,490 for the optional four-speed auto being tested here, the XV comes with the same 2.0-litre boxer four-cylinder engine as the other members of the mainstream Impreza range.

Apart from the ride-height change and cladding, it has its own grille, new bumpers, roof rails and a rear spoiler.

Standard equipment includes foglights, 16-inch alloys, sports front seats, a 10-speaker audio system, Bluetooth, climate control and leather trimmings for the steering wheel, gearshift and handbrake.

But like many faux off-roaders, the XV is fitted with only a space-saver spare tyre.

Like all Subarus sold in Australia, the Impreza XV comes with the maximum five-star ANCAP crash-test rating. It also adds stability control, six airbags and anti-lock brakes with brake assist and electronic brakeforce distribution.

Under the bonnet

The horizontally opposed 2.0-litre engine produces 110kW at 6400rpm and 196Nm at 3200rpm, competitive figures in this class.

However, when attached to Subaru’s four-speed auto and asked to haul along a weighty car (by class standards), it does feel stretched.

The XV is not a vehicle in which to attempt a snappy overtake on a rolling country highway, nor will it effortlessly conquer climbs #8212; something you are reminded of when the auto thumps back into second gear. Manual shifts become second nature. Subaru has a new engine and continuously variable transmission in the pipelines.

Both will be welcome.

An 8.8 litres per 100 kilometres fuel-use average is claimed and we finished close to 10.0L/100km after a week of varied conditions.

No doubt in an attempt to heat its pollution-quelling catalytic converter as quickly as possible, our test XV idled so high when cold, it was possible to engage gear and drive off at more than 30km/h without touching the accelerator. Once warm it settled back down.

How it drives

To compensate for the ride-height increase, Subaru has tuned the stabilisers, spring rates, damping force and rear subframe bushes. The result isn’t anything to get excited about.

The standard Impreza is a mediocre handler anyway, so a higher centre of gravity isn’t going to transform it. The XV is at its best containing soft-edged bumps but once they get sharper, there is intrusive steering kickback and some rear-end movement.

There’s also notable noise beamed into the cabin from tyres on coarse surfaces.

Where the XV does shine is on gravel, with good traction courtesy of all-wheel-drive and its excellent anti-lock brakes. Of course, it is not a serious off-roader.

The XV’s size makes it good for shopping centres and car parks.

Comfort and practicality

The integrated sports front seats are the obvious XV upgrade from standard Imprezas. The rest of the interior #8212; black and burnished plastics and the flowing centre stack #8212; is very familiar. Call it workmanlike, rather than attractive.

Airconditioning controls are a simple three-dial affair and the audio system’s USB and aux inputs are in a split-level lidded bin in the centre. Other storage up front includes door pockets with bottle-holders, a glovebox, parcel tray and dual cupholders.

Although the driver gets a reach- and rake-adjustable steering wheel, the vertical range is limited.

In the rear is adequate space for two adults, although three kids is a squeeze. The bench is soft, deep and comfy and accessed by wide-opening doors. Storage is provided by door pockets and a passenger seat-back pocket.

The XV’s boot is quite small, at just 301 litres, although that grows to 774 litres when the seat is split-folded.

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