It wasn’t until I actually drove one of its products that I realised how much more the brand has focused on its lifestyle offerings. I received a Tangerine Orange Pearl XV to drive around for a week or two, and quickly discovered how restrained and in-tune with the market it felt.
Now, some four years later, the brand has updated the XV and again, I had one for a couple of weeks, this time finished in the model’s signature Hyper Blue hue.
Keen observers will note the updated headlamps up front while at the rear, the tail lamps are now clear-look items. The biggest changes however come in the form of an interior update. Improved materials, a new gear-shift lever, new instrument cluster, sliver interior accents, newer steering-mounted controls and black leather accented by orange stitching are minor changes while the seven-inch infotainment is the most notable and welcome change.
The first thing I noted was how much easier it was to pair my phone to the Bluetooth system; in previous Subaru models, it has been a bit of a pain, however, it is now up to industry standards.
Rear passengers also get USB charging capabilities although a pair of larger adults would find the rear a bit tight over longer distances. The same goes for the boot, which at 310-litres, is on the small side despite having rubberising for the loading of more lifestyle-orientated items.
I suppose that in terms of its design, relatively simplistic interior and of course, its capability, we find who the XV is targeted at. I could easily see that a family fond of mountain biking and in need of a daily driver, would take a liking to the XV. It is also an immensely safe vehicle with seven airbags and a five-star Euro NCAP safety rating.
It is most certainly not a car for the performance enthusiast though, as it once again makes do with a 2.0-litre naturally aspirated flat-four motor coupled to a CVT gearbox. Despite having permanent all-wheel drive, the 110 kW / 196 Nm it produces hardly makes for earth shattering performance.
The CVT transmission is perhaps less frustrating than a few I have encountered in the past, yet I still have to concede that overtaking is quite a frustrating experience with that drone emanating from the under the bonnet.
During a road trip to Nelspruit, I had to overtake several slow-moving trucks, which meant my hard-fought consumption took a dive and went to 8.2 litres/100km over the two week period, which isn’t bad considering the 1400 kg plus weight, the gearbox and the all-wheel drive system.
However, couple that all-wheel drive system with the 220 mm of ground clearance, you have a vehicle that is more capable than most in off-road scenarios. It can crawl through mud and will demolish a dirt road; its Yokohama Geolander tyres inspire confidence in these situations too.
The model I had on test was the top-spec 2.0i-S which retails for R419 000, a lot of money but as I discovered, the XV offers a unique package and is certainly a car that appeals to the current market demand for SUVs and crossovers.
While most people are happy with their soft-roaders that offer the looks and minimal capability, I feel that those looking for a vehicle that can get them to their respective adventure destinations safety and with minimal effort, should have a look at an XV. It is likely to stand the test of time too in the reliability stakes.