Driving a Subaru XV across hay fields 🚜
Worry not, Subaru's AWD system is present and correct.
This is the Subaru XV and let me start by saying that if you decide to buy this car, it has to be in Sunshine Orange or Blue. Pure Red is also available but I think we're sort of over red cars by now. There's Quartz Blue Pearl, which is cool, and Lagoon Blue Pearl (pictured) and they all work because what really, really wouldn't work is white as it would make it look like a taxi.
Even though this might look like yet another compact crossover, the XV comes with offroading credentials that other crossover SUVs just can't offer and it comes with added "Subarism". We'll talk about that later, though. Let's start with the one thing Subaru is really good at and known for: its AWD system.
If you happen to be lost in a field of haystacks you might find this useful. There's a small button on the centre console, right next to the handbrake, marked "X-Mode" and if you push it, everything changes.
The car will automatically manage things like throttle response, hill descent control, the vehicle dynamics control system, the gearbox and the all-wheel drive system. Basically, X-Mode keeps the transmission in lower gears to deliver torque and power gradually, it then manages the distribution of the power to each wheel and uses hill descent control, thus helping the tyres retain traction even when going downhill and the gradient is steep and finally, you're going to like this, it applies something called VDC + Enhanced LSD Control. And this requires extra explaining.
Bear with me because this is interesting. VDC stands for vehicle dynamics control and in plain English this means that the system monitors all four wheels, all of the time, to make sure they are all behaving correctly. So for example if the left and right wheels are behaving differently, the system applies brakes only to wheels that are slipping. This means you can basically activate X-Mode and then read a newspaper while the car takes you back on normal terrain. Don't do that, though. Because it's dangerous. And sort of illegal.
The XV I drove is powered by the new e-Boxer unit, Subaru's latest creation. It's a 2 L boxer engine with 150 PS coupled with a 12,3 kW electric unit for a combined power of 167 PS and 194 Nm of torque.
It has four different modes. In EV Driving mode, the car is powered by the electric unit only for about 15-20 miles; in Motor Assist Driving mode both units are being utilized whereas in the Engine Driving mode, the car is powered by the thermal engine only. Like other similar cars, the XV has a KERS-like system which allows you recuperate energy under braking.
In essence, the electric unit makes the car quicker off the line because of the instant throttle response while improving fuel efficiency (by 11 %, according to Subaru), and it also means that the electric motor is just there to help.
The XV is technically based on the Impreza but this is not a spin-off to fill a blank page in the line-up, it is simply the smallest and cheapest (prices start at around €23,000) Subaru you can buy if you want to do some offroading.
It is well-equipped and decently upholstered although I don't think that's one of its selling points. Still, all the usual ancillaries are available, including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto which you can use on the 6.3'' screen, as well as major safety features and accessories like park assist with rear view camera.
Leather upholstery is available but, I'm sort of turning this into a personal battle, I'd go for cloth because leather is overrated in my opinion.
So it is a proper Subaru?
I never realized Subaru had such a strong and loyal customer base. Trying to talk them into buying something else is a bit like trying to talk Apple users out of their iPhones. All of their cars make sense. No gap-fillers.
There’s a gazillion crossovers on sale today but only a few are actually competent off-roaders and the XV is one of them. This isn’t a lifestyle vehicle for pretenders because I don’t think it’s pretty enough , and even with the addition of the electric unit, the engine is still a bit lacklustre. Having said that, it is a good car if you just want a vehicle which will take you from the shops to your home without hassle, and it is a great car if, for any reason, you want to drive though a a pinewood forest or across a frozen lake along the way.