Review: Subaru XV 2.0 GT Edition – One car to do it all

Arif · Aug 31, 2020 11:54 AM

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With Subaru's well-known rally heritage, expectations are always high for Subaru cars. The gold-standard is a turbocharged boxer engine matched with golden wheels and a massive hood-scoop. With a naturally aspirated engine and a CVT transmission, the Subaru XV GT Edition might sound a little underwhelming. It's like the less famous sibling - the Cody Walker, the Luke Hemsworth, or the Tom Franco.

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Only those who have driven the Subaru XV will understand the appeal of it. Born with Subaru's symmetrical all-wheel-drive system, the XV is the only compact crossover with the off-road grunt to match its styling.

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Now, if we were to strictly categorize the Subaru XV, its only competitors would be the Mazda CX-30 and the Toyota CH-R. If we broaden our choices a little, the Subaru XV also competes with "sporty" B-segment crossovers like the HR-V and CX-3. Another alternative would be a Suzuki Jimny, but let's not go there. The XV is for those looking for something youthful, sporty, and a little bit fun-to-drive. Kind of a "one car to do it all" for the young person. 

Exterior

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Black claddings on bright coloured cars are eye-catching, to say the least. On some cars, the combination gives a bold and youthful look, while on other cars, it's just downright ugly. I am unsure of the origin of this styling, but if there's one bright coloured car with black claddings that I have to live with, it would be the Subaru XV.

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Overall, the Subaru XV has a rather angular look. From the front it looks like a puppy with a big, blue nose ready to pounce into the nearest puddle of mud. The rear-end is a little bit more aggressive. At first, I didn't like the look of the car, but after having it for a while, I have to give credit where its due. The Subaru XV is a decently tough-looking car.

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If there's anything I could change about the exterior, I would make it have an angrier face. Everything else is fine. Being a "lifted Impreza", the Subaru XV is a decently-sized car for the urban environment.

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Interior

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The interior of the Subaru XV GT Edition is youthful. It does share parts with the Forester, but the orange stitches and two-toned seats make it a more interesting car to sit in. Sporty elements are present in the details like the aluminium foot pedals, centre-mounted digital gauges, and a compact steering wheel.

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Rear passengers get decent leg room, making the Subaru XV the perfect car for a little rendezvous with the friends. The only downside would be the lack of rear charging sockets.

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Door pockets are on the smaller side, but the centre armrest provides generous space to store your belongings. In terms of upholstery, the fitting is much better for the front seats than it is in the rear.

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Boot space is not large, especially with the tonneau cover in use. Being an active lifestyle car, it would be great to have more space for active lifestyle gear.

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The infotainment system is not very appealing, but give the Android Auto/Apple CarPlay a try and you might just end up liking it.

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Driving Experience

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The touch points for the driver are very engaging. One could say Subaru does a better job than Mazda when it comes to making a car fun to drive. They just don't look as sexy.

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You get paddle shifters behind the steering wheel and oddly enough, you can't "shift gears" with the gear lever.

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The steering wheel is probably one the best ones out there. It is grippy, compact, and ergonomic. Steering response is sharp, but handling through corners isn't very sporty. The damping is moderate, making the ride more comfortable.

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With no aid from a hybrid system, the century 0-100 km/h sprint is done in 10.7 seconds. Overtaking capabilities on the highway are decent but I wouldn't go so far as to call it effortless.

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Although underwhelming by the Subaru golden standard, the naturally aspirated 156 PS/196 Nm 2.0 L boxer engine is alright for highways and twisties. Thanks to the symmetrical all-wheel-drive system and the Subaru Global Platform, the ride feels more assuring in the Subaru XV. We'd even like to point out that the Subaru XV uses a double wishbone setup in the rear.

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Despite sharing the same powertrain with the Forester, the XV feels a lot spritelier and more eager. Both the XV and the Forester are equipped with Steering Responsive Headlights (SRH) which are very handy.

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For added convenience, the car is equipped with 360-degree cameras. There is no Sports mode for the Subaru XV GT edition. The only mode that you could select is the "X-mode" for some off-roading, which tweaks the throttle, transmission mapping, traction and control for loose surface.

The Subaru XV is not a sports car, but it does allow you to have some fun through the occasional B-roads. The ride height may not be that of a full-fledged off roader, but the Subaru XV is good enough if you're a feeling a little adventurous.

Ride Comfort

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For the amount of "fun driving" that you get with the Subaru XV, the comfort levels are decent. It feels snug on the inside. Rough road surfaces are moderately dampened and the seat cushions provide good support to the passengers. There's a little bit of body roll due to the moderate damping, but it makes for a comfortable ride.

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The cabin noise isn't luxury-level quiet. At 110 km/h, sound level in the cabin is 69 dB, which is rather average. Engine noise a little bit loud in relation to how fast the car is actually going. The CVT whine may get a little annoying, but if you imagine it to be a supercharger whine, it gets quite entertaining.

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With 50% urban and 50% highway driving, we managed an average fuel consumption of 9.46 l/100km with the Subaru XV. There is no "eco mode" or "sport mode" in the Subaru XV.

Conclusion

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For the young and active driver, the Subaru XV is an attractive one-car-to-do-all option. It's got a little bit of this and little bit of that. A little bit of space, a little bit of grunt, a little bit of comfort, a little bit of style, a little bit of practicality, and a little bit of off-roading capability. It's a good package. The Subaru XV is a jack of all trades but a master of none.

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Arif

Writer

Previously an engineer in an automotive manufacturing company and a highway concessionaire. A part-time research student on biofuels and diesel engines. Obsessed with vehicle electrification and the future of transportation.

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