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14 Jun 2017 | Text by Nigel Yong, Photos by Subaru. Direct from Taipei, Taiwan

Game Changer

Based on the Subaru Global Platform as is the Impreza, the handsome new Subaru XV is a superbly thought-out and constructed piece of family machinery.


Introduced in 2012, the XV was Subaru's contribution to the compact Sport Utility Vehicle (SUV) market. In Singapore, it contends against cars like the Honda HR-V, the Mazda CX-3 and the Suzuki Vitara.

Earlier this year, Subaru debuted the second generation XV at the Geneva Motor Show - the second model to be constructed on the Subaru Global Platform (SGP), the vehicular architecture to be used for future Subaru models. The 2017 Impreza was the first to employ SGP.

The XV now employs SGP, enabling heightened levels of confidence, comfort and control for a nicer driving experience

So what's new, Doc?

SGP is the new XV's most significant change. By using SGP, the car's rigidity has improved by 70 percent, meaning reduced vibrations and an increase in driving pleasure.

On the punishing test tracks made up of sand, a skidpan, a slalom, simulated bumpy roads and a side ramp, the XV proved to be planted, confident, and quick to respond to directional changes and driver input.

Compared to its Honda, Mazda and Suzuki counterparts, the Subaru is clearly the more confidence-inspiring machine.

And while sporty, the car's suspension doesn't compromise on comfort, graciously absorbing nasty bumps and ruts on the road.

The revised 2.0-litre Boxer engine is lighter and makes 154bhp and 196Nm of torque

X-MODE, which can also be found in the Subaru Forester, now comes standard. It helps reduce potential slip on unsavoury surfaces, climbing daunting inclines, and navigating rough roads.

It's also not a slow car by any means, having 154bhp and 196Nm of torque from a naturally aspirated 2.0-litre Boxer engine. The engine is now 12kg lighter and has direct injection for more power and fuel economy over the outgoing model.

However, its one shortcoming is the lumpish Lineartronic CVT gearbox, which is mundane and murders the otherwise very positive driving experience. But to us, this is the car's only blemish.

Impreza-inspired cabin is smashing news

The XV's fresh dash design is now more modern and premium, centre-staged by an 8.0-inch, iOS-favourable display infotainment system. Quality of materials chosen and workmanship is oustanding, and Subaru has furnished a liberal gob of orange stitching on the dash, panels and seats - a signature styling element.

Premium styling and improved materials used move the new XV a step or two upmarket, closing in on European standards

There's also a ton of useful storage spaces for drinks, keys and mobile devices strewn about the centre console, a by-product of upgrading the car's conventional hand brake to a space-saving electronic one. Space for junk in the trunk now measures 385 litres; a total of 835 litres if you stow the rear seats away.

Prom king

The car is now much more handsome than before; the most stylish in this segment, in fact. Some may say its face is a plug-and-play adaptation of the Impreza's and that's not very far from the truth. It's now shaped to be sharper and more distinctive, underlining its adventurous yet urban-modern proposition.

Space for junk in the XV's trunk now measures 385 litres; a total of 835 litres if you stow the rear seats away

Thanks to Subaru's cleverly thought-out improvements, stylish design and premium touches, the second generation XV isn't going to be just a new face in the crowd, but the model to have if you're in the market for a Japanese-made compact SUV.

The higher variant in the 1.6-litre lineup is scheduled to reach Singapore come August this year while the 2.0-litre model should be launched during next year's Singapore Motor Show, alongside the highly anticipated Subaru EyeSight active safety system.
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