With an unconventional approach to powertrain and transmission choices, the XV strikes a different tone on the road to its numerous rivals. The range topping 2.0-litre boxer unit with 154bhp and CVT transmission combination is smooth at lower speeds, but the lack of torque means you’ll have to push the engine into action more often than you’d like.
The real problem here is that the revs rise and hold with the CVT transmission, and above 3,000 the unit loses its refined edge noticeably. Wheel mounted paddles enable the driver to artificially shift the CVT transmission, but it’s not very convincing and doesn’t add any flavour to the driving experience.
The XV’s steering isn’t too bad. The setup itself feels somewhat sharp and ready to react to inputs, but lacks in feel – no great sin in this class. Body control feels good though, thanks to the relative low centre of gravity for a crossover brought about by the low-sitting Boxer unit.
The XV’s ride is okay and its chassis flows nicely, real care seems to have been delivered into the suspension setup to give a composed but cosseted ride. Overall, it’s just a shame that the CVT transmission and lack of torque blots the XV’s copybook from a dynamic point of view.
Unlike many modern cars of this breed, it must be said that the XV will go off-road and can handle surprisingly tough ground. All cars are all-wheel-drive as standard, and also come equipped with Subaru’s X-Mode traction control setup for poor surfaces, and hill descent control. You’ll certainly plough off the beaten track more confidently in the Subaru than in many rivals.
Engines, 0-60 acceleration and top speed
The latest XV drops diesel altogether in favour of two petrol options. Both are traditional Subaru boxer units, the firm favouring the lower vibration and movement of flat engines compared to inline combustion, and also the lower centre of gravity.
The new 1.6-litre develops 112bhp and 150Nm of torque. It’s underpowered for an all-wheel-drive car of this size, with Subaru claiming a lethargic 13.9-second 0-62mph dash and a top speed of 109mph. In any case, we’d recommend the more powerful 2.0-litre. Power steps up to 154bhp, and while 196Nm of torque still lags behind the grunt offered by the XV’s turbocharged rivals it does at least endow the Subaru with a level of performance that’s acceptable. With this engine, 0-62mph takes 10.4 seconds and top speed climbs to 120mph.
With just CVT transmissions offered, the XV’s powertrain has a Jekyll and Hyde personality. When not under strain progress is smooth and refined, but it’s all too easy for the transmission to hold revs under harder acceleration, meaning the Boxer unit loses its cool and fills the cabin with noise.