Subaru XV review

Category: Family SUV

Section: Performance & drive

Available fuel types:hybrid, petrol
Available colours:
Subaru XV 2019 rear left handling
Add to shortlist
  • Subaru XV 2019 front tracking
  • Subaru XV 2019 rear left handling
  • Subaru XV
  • Subaru XV
  • Subaru XV
  • Subaru XV 2019 rear tracking
  • Subaru XV 2019 front static on grass
  • Subaru XV
  • Subaru XV
  • Subaru XV
  • Subaru XV
  • Subaru XV 2019 front tracking
  • Subaru XV 2019 rear left handling
  • Subaru XV
  • Subaru XV
  • Subaru XV
  • Subaru XV 2019 rear tracking
  • Subaru XV 2019 front static on grass
  • Subaru XV
  • Subaru XV
  • Subaru XV
  • Subaru XV
RRP £28,320What Car? Target Price from£27,181

Performance & drive

What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is

The XV offers you a 1.6-litre petrol engine (badged 1.6i) and a 2.0-litre petrol hybrid with an electric motor, badged as the XV e-Boxer 2.0i.

The 1.6i produces 112bhp, providing acceleration that’s very sedate by class standards. The 2.0 e-Boxer is, unsurprisingly, quicker; its petrol engine produces 148bhp and its electric motor a further 17bhp. However, in reality, even this higher-powered engine isn’t enough to help the SV feel particularly quick; it can’t match the low-down pull of its turbocharged rivals.

As hybrid systems go, this is a very mild one. It won’t let you travel for great distances using only electric power, for instance. In fact, you’ll be lucky to get a few seconds of pure electric propulsion at low speeds when you lift off the accelerator pedal. And then, when the petrol engine kicks in, the transition isn’t particularly smooth.

Matters aren’t helped by the XV’s CVT automatic gearbox, which every XV has as standard. This has seven 'simulated' gears that you can cycle through using paddle shifters on the steering wheel. However, the 'box is best left in its automatic mode, where it largely does a good job of keeping progress smooth – although, as with all CVTs, the engine revs noisily high under heavy acceleration. The gearbox can also be slightly jerky when you’re on and off the accelerator around town.

When cornering, the XV resists body lean well and feels pretty agile. There’s plenty of grip and it always feels sure-footed, and the steering is well-weighted. As a result, the XV is more enjoyable to drive than the Nissan Qashqai, but it can’t match the Seat Ateca in this area.

As is the case with the Ateca, though, this tidy handling comes at a price. The XV's ride is firm and never fully settles, even on smooth roads. Go over a rough piece of asphalt and you'll be jostled around in your seat.

Where the XV stands out from these rivals, though, is in having a genuine off-road capability. In addition to four-wheel drive, the XV has a generous 220mm of ground clearance and X-Mode; a driving setting that optimises the four-wheel drive system over tricky surfaces at low speeds and includes hill descent control. Even on normal road tyres, it can take pretty hostile terrain in its stride.

Subaru XV 2019 rear left handling
Subaru XV 2019 front tracking
Open Gallery11 Images

Also consider

Toyota C-HR

2019 - present

Comfortable, fun, generously equipped and the hybrid version m...

Volvo XC40

2018 - present

Classy, comfortable and great for safety.

BMW X1

2019 - present

One of the best small SUVs; great to drive and classy inside

BMW X2

2018 - present

Classy interior and tidy handling appeal, but the firm ride an...