Driven Subaru XV GT

Subaru XV GT

The XV is one of the most popular Subaru models in the region, and the second-generation model is almost entirely new from the ground up. Thanks to a new stiffer platform, the crossover is much improved over its predecessor, exhibiting greater ride and handling characteristics with enhanced comfort and safety. Besides tyre roar and the shoddy infotainment system, the XV and its high quality cabin will certainly impress most people.

The reworked direct-injection 2.0 litre Boxer engine makes six horsepower more than the older XV. It is made entirely out of aluminium and pulls a bit more convincingly than before, and it is also more responsive to throttle inputs. However, the CVT and all-wheel drive system introduce some lethargy to an otherwise decent powertrain. The new X-Mode is a great addition to an already capable off-roader, but it is something most buyers can do without.

Ride & Handling is its trump card. The new Subaru Global Platform comes with a more sophisticated suspension setup and exhibits one of the best, if not the best damping characteristics for its price point. There is a fair amount of body roll, but never too much to unsettle balance. It is still agile thanks to the low centre of gravity, plus the small turning radius will make urban driving a breeze. 

Comfort was never an issue with the older XV, but the new one takes it up a notch. The seats are more supportive for long distance driving – there is not much give in the cushioning, and occupants sit fairly high up in the car. This gives great outward visibility, which is particularly important for the driver. The only gripe here is tyre roar, and it will probably take more than just a new set of comfort-oriented tyres to solve the problem.

It’s quite a shame that we don’t get the top-of-the-range EyeSight system – that will eventually arrive in mid-2019 with a slight price hike of RM8,000. For now, both XV variants on sale get seven airbags and the usual electronic safety systems. The structurally rigid body also earned the XV a five-star crash safety rating from EuroNCAP and ANCAP.

The wholly redesigned cabin is not just great to look at. It’s far more practical, with thoughtful incorporation of stowage spaces for smartphones, slim wallets and the occasional coffee-to-go. The centre armrest features a small cutout for charging cables to be neatly kept away, further highlighting Subaru’s attention to detail. Rear space is not class leading, but decent for most adults up to 185 cm tall. However, the boot space remains a weak point for the XV, as it’s only five litres bigger (345 litres) in volume than before.   

On the value front, you are getting your money’s worth for a small (relatively) C-segment SUV. It’s an even more interesting option now that it is positioned to go against the dominant Honda HR-V. Objectively, the XV is perhaps the most well-rounded SUV for the price and class. If you can get past the badge stigma, this one will definitely impress.

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