Does a New Colour and More Tech Make The Subaru XV Better?

The Subaru XV has been tweaked and given a new lease of life, and colour, for 2021, but is it any good?

2w ago

No, you aren’t seeing things, this Subaru XV really is that colour. I was surprised as any when I went to collect it from the team at Armstrong Subaru in Christchurch. With the exception of the WRX STi, and the light Lagoon Blue Pearl found on the XV e-boxer hybrid, the Subaru colour catalogue is usually one of understated tones of silver, black, or white.

As you would imagine, this isn’t one of those colours. They call it Plasma Yellow Pearl, not gold, and it is one of a handful of new additions and tweaks to the XV for 2021. The XV concept, while forward thinking when the original was launched in 2017, seems rather common place these days thanks to the continuing emergence of hatch like soft roaders and coupe SUVs. So, will these changes give the XV new life and appeal? I spent a week in its company to find out.

My test car was the high-end XV Premium. At $42,490, the XV Premium is a sizeable $5000 more than the regular XV. However, the XV Premium is quite well equipped, with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard, along with lane change assist, high beam assist, rear cross traffic alert, blind spot detection, electric sunroof, heated leather seats, and Subaru’s latest generation Eyesight Driver Assist System.

You still a very clear and concise sat-nav screen and reversing camera, but for 2021, the Premium gets front and side view cameras, which can be toggled through at will while on the move, and an auto dipping passenger mirror, makes parking and maneuvering in tight spaces somewhat easier. Ideal if you can’t quite see whether the neighbour’s car went under the car before reversing back. Other additives throughout the range include auto locking doors, and the addition of Subaru’s Intelligent Drive system, which is Subaru speak for normal and sport drive modes.

Also back is Subaru’s X-Mode for when the going gets rough. The Premium gets additional Deep Snow and Deep Mud modes. While I can’t really see many XV Premium owners having a bash at climbing every mountain or fording every stream on a daily basis, its nice to know you have it on tap if need be.

Under the bonnet, you still get the same 2.0L Boxer four-cylinder engine mated to Subaru’s SLT, or Subaru LinearTronic, gearbox and of course, all wheel drive. Power is rated at 115kW and 196Nm of torque. Fuel consumption remains the same at a claimed 7.0L/100km. However, the best I could average was around 8.5L/100km.

Outside, the biggest changes to the XV for the new year can be seen. Aside from the Goldfinger-esque paint scheme, there is a redesigned grill and front bumper. Also, the Premium gets new and fresher looking alloys. Despite the brushed silver accents resembling lots of letter ‘Rs’ they still look good over the previous model. The fog lights have also been re designed.

Styling wise, things inside are very much the same as before, though the seats aren’t as comfortable as others. However, the XV claws back with plenty of room to move about, and decent visibility fore and aft. Boot space is average at 310L, though this is down to a high boot floor.

Moving off and the 2.0L boxer four pot is still a strong puller, with its 198Nm kicking in low in the rev range. Being a CVT box, there is no indication of which gear you are in, just a seamless and gradual increase in power. Talking of power, flicking up to Sport mode increases the revs and but seems to do little else to entice you to partake in a drive of enthusiasm. Honestly, you are best to leave it in normal for the duration.

What is nice is the level of steering feel. It is very communicative and allows you to tackle corners well. Plus, with 220mm of ground clearance, you will be surprised of just how capable the XV Premium is when the smooth bitumen ceases. When X-Mode is activated, the clever all-wheel drive system does its magic, providing equal distribution of power and torque to all four wheels very nicely.

For a snip over $42k, the 2021 Subaru XV Premium is quite well rounded and thanks to its addition of safety kit and other tweaks, it ticks a few boxes when considering bang for your buck. Though I’m not quite sold on Plasma Yellow Pearl, and my boney frame didn't find much comfort with the seats, the Subaru XV Premium, thanks to these additives for the new year, still loses none of its appeal.

A few niggles still, but easily the best XV yet

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Comments (2)

  • In recent years Subaru have managed to make cars that are both ugly and yet boring to look at, quite a skill.

      16 days ago
  • Why put in a CVT? Anybody who enjoys driving just won’t buy it. Might be ok as a runabout though.

      14 days ago