FIRST DRIVE: 2018 Subaru XV Malaysian review – RM119k-RM126k

The first-generation Subaru XV was
considerably successful in the region and it was undoubtedly the most popular
model for Subaru Malaysia. In continuing the same success story we have before
you the second-generation Subaru XV It’s currently available in two variants
starting with the base 2.0i that’s priced at RM119,000, and the range-topper 2.0i-P,
this one in bright sunshine orange It’s priced at RM126,000, making it a full RM9k more expensive than the
top spec HR-V. But wait a minute, is the XV a direct competitor to the HR-V? Well more
so in terms of pricing then segment because this car actually rides on top
of a C-segment platform, which it shares with the Impreza. Well I’ll explain the
benefits of this in a minute but first I want to talk about how it looks. The XV
is basically a jacked up version of the Impreza hatchback, sharing the same
overall shape, even down to the roof rails and shark fin antenna. Now although
it doesn’t look all that different compared to its predecessor I actually
find new look to be very well executed and the proportions are just spot-on. And
between the two new XVs, this is the one you should be really looking at. It
gets automatic LED headlights with cornering function, stylish C-shaped LED
daytime running lights, headlight washers a bolder hexagonal grille and LED
combination tail lamps. This 17-inch dual tone alloy wheels is standard on both
variants, but here the tyres are actually thicker than the ones fitted to the
older model. In any case it gets this rugged plastic cladding that goes around
the car and to be honest I kind of fancy this There’s an even higher spec variant
with Subarus EyeSight safety system, but that’s only going to come next year. One
of the many things I’ve grown fond of the XV is just how convenient and easy
it is to get in and out of the car Ride height is just nice and upon getting in, things just get a
whole lot better. I honestly think it’s one of the best-looking and most
well-built cabin in its class. The build quality in this thing is leaps and bounds
better than the older model and is considerably nicer than the HR-V as well
the top portion of the cabin gets smothered in high-quality soft touch
plastic and it’s used all the way down to the center tunnel, even to the rear
doors. However I can’t help but think haven’t I seen this dashboard before?
Anyway I reckon the build quality of the XV is slightly better than the Mazda
CX-3 and that really caught me by surprise. I like the look of this 3 spoke
steering wheel – it’s nicely contoured it’s leather wrapped, it has all the
controls within reach and it also has paddle shifters. There’s even contrast
stitching to match the theme of the entire cabin. Speaking of theme, the seats
which are wrapped in part leather and part fabric get bright orange stitching
as standard. The driver seat is the only one that’s electrically adjustable and
this is the same for the cheaper variant as well. Unique to this variant though is
the carbon-fibre trim that surrounds all four of the door handles. Check out this
super cool secondary multi-info display Instead of cramming all the driving data
into this small space right here, what Subaru did was move everything, well
almost everything, into this 6.3 inch multifunction display. Here it gives a
multitude of information such as fuel consumption, all-wheel drive status, pitch
angle and even a more detailed trip meter reading, all of which are in real time.
The head unit on the other hand leaves a lot to be desired
I think car manufacturers have to spend a little bit more time and effort to
make the infotainment display system feel more cohesive, like it belongs with
the car. Mazda is a perfect example of this Here it just feels like they bought some third-party open-source program and
built their own user interface on top of it The brightness it’s, it’s quite bad.
Well it works and serves its purpose but the compromise is that the whole thing
looks very basic and underwhelming I mean if the whole cabin is so impeccably
made then something like this is definitely gonna stick out. Just
saying Down here you get the traditional button
and dial controls for the air-con Some space to keep your mobile devices while
it’s charging, cupholders and a nice centre armrest with two USB charging
ports built in. The old manual handbrake lever is now gone, replaced by this nifty
electronic switch. What’s neat is that you can charge two devices at the same
time and keep most of the cables hidden within the armrest. There are two
thoughtfully position openings at each corner that let the cables out without
causing a mess. Now let’s check out the back seats As you can see it’s quite
spacious back here and there’s even more legroom compared to the first generation
XV because the wheel base here is longer by 30 millimetres. Notice this hump over
here, it’s pretty much the same size as before but I don’t mind it. The headroom
as well, same as before Overall space back here
is slightly smaller than the HR-V, but definitely way bigger than the CX-3.
One downside back here is the lack of air vents but this is a common problem
shared by all the XV’s rivals. In terms of boot accessibility, the opening has
been widened by 100 millimetres to make loading and unloading easier and
unfortunately boot space is only up by 5 litres to 345 litres, which is not great
for a car like this. Just look at how shallow it is with the tonneau cover on.
The flipside is you get a spare tyre so that’s a fair compromise if you ask me.
Now let me show you the unique thing about this handsome crossover. Unlike
every other model in its class the XV gets a 2.0 litre flat-four Boxer engine.
The benefit of this is that it sits low in the car compared to traditional
inline-four or V6 engines, so the centre of gravity is effectively lower. Just look
at how low this thing sits. Subaru says this direct injection engine is almost
entirely new and produces 156 PS and 196 Nm of torque. It’s paired to
Subaru’s continuously variable transmission, otherwise known as
Lineartronic and features 7 virtual ratios This CVT is also nearly 8 kg lighter than the old unit with revised gearing to improve fuel
efficiency. Now with all that out of the way let’s find out how it drives The original Subaru XV was popular for many reasons particularly because it gave
people that rugged SUV look with a commanding driving position and it
didn’t look too boring or dowdy as other run-of-the-mill SUVs that you could get.
It also drove pretty well and had decent levels of comfort. Well, this new one
improves on all that thanks to a new Subaru Global Platform.
Apparently body and chassis rigidity is up by 70% and you can really feel this
in the corners. There’s less flexion in the chassis when you take corners at higher
speeds and it’s inherently a more stable car to drive. This car is
also very beautifully sprung, possibly exhibiting the best ride quality in its
class, by far. Remember what I said earlier about this being on top of a
C-segment platform? One of the key benefits is that you get a more
sophisticated suspension especially in the rear way it gets a double wishbone
suspension instead of a cheaper torsion beam set up found in the HR-V.
This makes it a far better car to drive especially for rear passengers.
With the new engine and transmission I find the throttle response to be quicker
and the engine is more eager to rev than the old one
And if you must know this car sprints from zero to 100 in 10.4
seconds which on its own is 0.3 seconds quicker than the old one but still
slower than HR-Vs 10.1 second mark The CVT has a step function to
mimic a normal automatic gearbox and it’s still one of the better made
CVTs out there. However as with all CVTs it lacks the pull factor at full
throttle especially at highway cruising speeds.
Generally though performance is comparable to the HR-V despite weighing
over 300 kg more but this is largely due to the size and construction
of the car. For city driving a front-wheel drive car is definitely
going to make more sense and you save more fuel in the process. But the XV is
permanently driven on all four wheels and it now features an X-Mode through a
button right here for better off road traction. If you’re the adventurous type,
consider this a bonus. On the subject of fuel efficiency expect this car to
perform slightly better than the old one although not by much. With a full tank of
63 liters I managed to squeeze about 600 km of range in mixed driving
conditions but this car is not properly run in, so it’s not a very good
barometer. I’m pretty sure I can do more if I only I have a little bit more
determination I’ve said it once, but I’ll say it again. I really honestly like this XV but like all cars it has to have some flaws – this gaudy head unit is one of
them, it’s one of the biggest, and the other is noise. One part from that CVT
which is a very common problem and the second is tyre roar.
CVT noise is part and parcel and most cars in this price bracket suffer from
the same fate but the factory fitted Continental MC5 tires are just
unacceptably noisy. And if you check the underside of the wheel well there’s only
a bit of sound deadening materials used Honda knows this and has fixed the
problem so Subaru if you’re watching this, please
do something about it All-in-all the XV has once again proven to be a worthy
contender in the growing subcompact crossover segment. It’s improved in just
about every aspect and despite all that it’s still competitively priced against
its closest rivals. The icing on the cake is the seven airbags that are standard
across the range and there’s also ISOFIX child anchors in the rear seat to go
with the usual set of safety systems For those of you who are waiting for the
full range of Subaru’s EyeSight safety system, well that’s only gonna come
sometime next year. For now I’ll be happy with this, just maybe not in this colour, because I’m not flashy like that Thank you for watching. This is Matt,
rain or shine, I will see you in the next one