Subaru XV review

Performance & drive

Manufacturer price from:£25,325
What Car? Target Price£24,299
Subaru XV
Review continues below...

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
Subaru XV
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