ON THE ROAD- IAN LYNAS DRIVES THE NEW SUBARU XV
Via the sport of rallying, Subaru became relatively well known throughout Ireland thanks to the like of drivers such as Kenny McKinstry, the late Bertie Fisher and more recently Garry Jennings.
Today though, there is little or no apparent interest in motor sport certainly here from Subaru, however in the UK there is with the BTCC; their attention now more and more turning to the everyday motorist.
Just like others, the compact SUV has become a part of their sales drive and the new XV is their offering. Quite an improvement from the earlier model, which was lacklustre in both styling and equipment- but not lacking in its on and off road capability.
Clearly Subaru is targeting the private buyer and in particular a younger audience with the new XV. They have one major aim- to be the fastest growing brand in 2018 and I reckon they are hoping that this newcomer will be a major player in achieving this goal.
Subaru believe in keeping things simple and I applaud them for that, just two trim levels, SE and SE Premium, two engines, both petrol, would be Irish buyers will be disappointed with no diesel in the line up. The petrol units are 1.6 and 2.0 litre respectively and relying on a CVT transmission.
Fair play to the Japanese company, on the press launch there was the opportunity to try the new XV both on and off road and also to try a number of the safety features first hand.
Eyesight is already familiar to some customers and the good news is that it is standard on the XV. Using two stereo cameras, a second pair of eyes for the driver. The system can recognise vehicles, motorbikes, bicycles, pedestrians and lane markings and depending on the speed of the vehicle accidents can be completely avoided or the severity of an accident greatly reduced.
Eyesight consists of six technologies, pre-collision braking, pre-collision throttle management, lane sway and departure warning, lane keep assist, and lead vehicle start alert.
The previous day the heavens had opened and the off road course was like driving in custard and equipped with standard Bridgestone road tyres I was not disappointed. But I must add the conditions I experienced few would ever subject their own set of wheels to.
Over the years I have driven various Subarus and one thing I do like very much, the boxer engine with its low slung stance, which adds to the overall handling and also in terms of safety.
The CVT noted earlier is smooth in operation and should you choose to select gears, then there are the paddle controls on the steering wheel.
Their version of all wheel drive is known as Symmetrical and with the X-Mode Hill Descent Control quite daring slopes can be tackled with a degree of confidence, again I have to say few would ever venture to use their new XV in such an environment.
Built on a new platform, the second Subaru model to do so and there are a number of benefits in terms of handling, comfort, ride etc. Again with a race instructor by my side I was able first hand to judge the improved handling, with a very noticeable absence of body roll. I also had the earlier XV to try over the same routes on a runway.
The new platform which is likely to be employed with all future new models from Subaru has other benefits, safety performance and improved cabin space. The new model is slightly longer and wider than the previous and it does offer more comfort for all onboard.
Body strength is up by 40 percent, yet another factor which aids handling and safety. In recent crash tests the XV has come out very well and video footage was available to show this.
I can not say for a minute that the exterior styling is to my taste, but is an improvement over the previous model, for me the interior revision is much more impressive with as it should be more attention to technology. The new XV has a more premium fell regarding the interior with a large eight inch infotainment screen and more realistic graphics.
Connectivity is right up there with the competition, a key area in this modern age if a vehicle is to succeed. Subaru in the past has relied on its loyal customer base, they still will but they need new conquests and speaking with some of their key personnel, they see the new compact SUV as the means to an end.
Pricing- £24,995 (€28,547)-£28,495 (€32,545) N.I; which seems reasonable considering the amount of equipment even on the standard version and to brighten your world a range of new colours and for peace of mind a five year warranty. In the R.O.I, the XV starts at €33,995.
I must applaud Subaru for the overall package, especially the emphasis on safety, after all our motoring world is a hostile one.