IT is some time since Japanese car manufacturer Subaru launched a new model so I was eager to road test the newly launched XV 4x4 which their UK managing director, Darren James, has described as their most important new model in a generation, writes Bryan Longworth.
The XV is an extremely important vehicle for Subaru and Mr James went on to say that by the middle of next year they expect the XV which is a compact crossover vehicle similar to the Nissan Qashqai to be Subaru’s biggest selling model in the UK.
The XV has pleasing chunky styling giving it a tough exterior image and it is available with a range of three Boxer engines two petrol and a diesel with five and six speed manual gearboxes and a CVT automatic.
Prices start at £21,295 rising to £29,995 and my test car was the XV 2.0-litre Diesel SE with six speed manual transmission priced at £26,295 which is next to the most expensive model.
The first feature to impress once I started driving the latest Scooby was the performance from the diesel engine which was quite sporty - there is a top speed of 120 mph, a zero to 62mph time of 9.3 seconds and combined fuel consumption of 50.4mpg.
The Boxer engine with its horizontally opposed cylinders also has a distinctive sporting sound to it which adds to the driver enjoyment of the XV that has permanent four wheel drive making it an ideal all the year round car.
Following the torrential rain of recent weeks I took the XV on a muddy and steep slippery track leading to fields with treacherous surfaces but the Subaru’s four wheel drive system ensured that traction was impressively maintained at all times.
It proved to be just the right sort of vehicle for these extreme conditions near Chatsworth Park where the rain had caused the cancellation for the first time of the Chatsworth Horse Trials - the Dowager Duchess of Devonshire was once a Subaru owner and at one time could be seen driving off road round the estate in the car.
The test car had an impressive level of standard equipment including a very informative information centre, dual zone air conditioning, xenon headlights, heated front seats, rear view safety camera and snazzy black and silver alloy wheels.
There is a very roomy and comfortable interior which I would have preferred not to have been so dark and there is a very large rear load area but there is no spare wheel.
I liked the high driving position and the XV had a more solid feel to it than the Qashqai which it resembles and which is one of its main competitors along with the Skoda Yeti that is a very good car and like the Qashqai can also be obtained with two wheel drive unlike the XV.
There is no doubt that the XV will be Subaru’s top selling car at this time next year because it adds a new dimension to the firms four wheel drive vehicles which have a reputation bar none for their versatility and competence especially when the going gets really tough.
My Verdict: A very competent Scooby crossover car.