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Subaru South Africa is changing strategy with its small car range. The ordinary models in the previous Impreza range did not sell very well (perhaps because they were so dull) and now the new one is not going to be offered over here - despite it being so much better to look at.
This, however, does not apply to the XV crossover model and the latest generation has just reached our shores. It's almost certain, too, that Subaru will bring the updated WRX and STI models when the do eventually become available.
But for now the only new Impreza we can have is the XV - a bit like VW's CrossPolo in concept (in that it's a dressed up version of the new Impreza hatch) except the Scoobie also has all-wheel drive.
Two naturally aspirated 2-litre models will be offered - a six-speed manual model for R329 000 and a CVT for R339 000. We're not sure why the pricing is so steep for what is essentially a Golf-sized hatchback with all-wheel drive. Perhaps Subaru wants its customers to enjoy a sense of exclusivity or is it that strong yen again?
It should, nonetheless, offer a great balance between on-road and off-road ability thanks to its 220mm ground clearance, constant symmetrical all-wheel drive and redesigned fully independent suspension with a wishbone design at the rear and struts up front.
The 2-litre engine belongs to Subaru's new FB range of engines and the naturally aspirated unit delivers 110kW at 6200rpm and 196Nm of twist from 4200rpm. Various design features also make it more efficient.
To improve practicality, Subaru adopted a more cab-forward design that results in more interior room and class-leading rear knee room. The redesigned boot area is also more spacious and accessible - although that's hardly saying much considering how cramped the previous model's luggage compartment was.
Inside you'll also find an advanced infotainment system with a multi-function display that provides the usual trip information in addition to a new drivetrain layout that shows the status of each wheel and the direction of the front wheels.
The XV also comes standard with a reverse camera, dual zone climate control, a six-speaker Bluetooth and iPod compatible sound system and steering wheel-mounted controls. Satnav and leather seats will cost you extra.
No compromises are made on the safety front, with a structure that scored five stars in the Euro and Aussie NCAP crash tests and seven airbags.
The XV is sold with a three-year/75 000km full maintenance plan and three-year/100 000km warranty while service intervals are pegged at 15 000km. Six exterior colours are offered, including the striking new Tangerine Orange Pearl that you see in the top picture.