Johannesburg - For a company that once rejected the whole SUV philosophy in favour of all-wheel drive station wagons, Subaru has really embraced the crossover ethos with the second-generation XV, released in South Africa this week, two months after its world premiere at the Geneva motor show.
It shares the new Subaru global platform (and its two-litre direct-injection flat-four Boxer) with the Impreza sedan, but also comes with X-Mode - previously only available on the bigger Outback and Forester - which enhances off-road performance at the touch of a button by combining engine control, braking and all-wheel drive for extra control when the car breaks traction on loose or slippery surfaces, and includes built-in hill descent control.
The new XV is marginally larger than its predecessor - 15mm longer and 20mm wider - but significantly lighter, thanks mainly to weight savings on the heaviest components - 12kg off the engine and 7.8kg off the gearbox.
It’s rated for 115kW at 6000 revs and 196Nm at 4200rpm and is available in South Africa only with a full auto-step ship Lineartronic constantly variable transmission, offering the illusion of seven manual speeds via paddle shift. All SA-spec XVs also come with a roof spoiler and roof rails, and roll on special 18 or 19 inch wheels.
The electric power steering system is also lighter and more compact, with a shorter steering ratio of 13:1, while the suspension mounts are more rigid, reducing body roll and lowering the the centre of gravity.
The interior remains true to the design language set by the Impreza, flowing from the centre stack to focus on both front-seat occupants. Trim panels, switchgear, multifunction steering wheel and door inserts are finished in black and silver with (unique to the XV) orange contrast stitching on the steering wheel, gear lever and centre stack.
The higher-specced ES model also features a 20cm StarLink infotainment touchscreen that works like a tablet with touch, swipe and pinch gestures to negotiate its TomTom navigation, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functions - or you can use voice direction via either Google Now or Siri Eyes Free.
The ES is also the first model in South Africa with Subaru’s EyeSight driver aids package which uses stereo cameras to detect pedestrians, cyclists and other possible hazards at up to 110 metres, and controls acceleration, braking and cruise control to soften or avoid collisions.
It also features lane-keeping assistance and reverse automatic braking, which scans the back of the car while reversing and will automatically stop the car if it spots an obstacle you haven’t. More safety features include adaptive headlights, auto high beam, blind spot detection and rear cross traffic alert.
|2.0i XV CVT||R385 000|
|2.0i-S ES CVT||R439 000|