xv, subaru, review
xv, subaru, review

Subaru XV: No charge for extra performance

Riley Riley

2021 Subaru XV 2.0i S 12

What is it?

Based on the Impreza hatch, XV is the smallest of Subaru’s SUVs.

It’s got 90mm more ground clearance than a regular Impreza and some plastic cladding to signify its off-road status.

Now in its second generation, XV was updated towards the end of last year, with some cosmetic changes, the introduction of Intelligent Drive — not to mention the addition of a second hybrid model.

We didn’t warm to the hybrid version, so we thought it only fair we give the petrol model a crack — and that’s exactly what we’re doing now.

2021 Subaru XV 2.0i S 6

What’s it cost?

There’s six models from which to choose, including two hybrids.

The October update brought fresh looks, revised all-wheel drive, some smarter tech and the introduction of Subaru Intelligent Drive (SI-Drive) across the range.

Prices start from $29,690 for the entry 2.0i with an auto.

Then there’s the 2.0i-L priced from $31,990, 2.0i Premium priced from $34,590, and 2.0i-S priced from $37,290.

Hybrid L is $35,490 while the Hybrid S sits at the top of the range with a price tag of $40,790.

The one we’re reviewing here is 2.0i-S priced from $37,290 — or $41,841 driveaway according to Sooby’s website.

Standard kit includes a combination of leather and non-leather trim with contrasting orange stitching and a splash of carbon-fibre look trim around the door locks.

There’s push-button start, two-zone climate control air conditioning, leather clad steering wheel and gear shift, heated front seats and 8-way power adjust driver’s seat with dual memory.

Add to this 18-inch alloys, a sunroof, auto lights and wipers, auto-dimming rear view mirror, LED headlights and fog lights, and an 8.0-inch touchscreen, with satellite navigation, digital radio (DAB+), single CD player, Carplay and Android Auto — plus two USB ports, two 12V/120W power jacks and AUX input.

Five-star safety includes seven airbags, a rear-view camera, and the EyeSight safety suite with Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Departure Warning, Lane Sway Warning, Lane Keep Assist, Lead Vehicle Start Alert, Pre-Collision Braking System, Pre-Collision Brake Assist, Pre-Collision Throttle Management and Brake Light Recognition.

There’s also High Beam Assist (HBA), Steering Responsive Headlights (SRH), Blind Spot Monitor (BSM), Lane Change Assist (LCA), Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA), Reverse Automatic Braking (RAB), Front View Monitor (FVM) and Side View Monitor (SVM).

XV is covered by a 5 year/unlimited kilometre warranty, plus capped price servicing and 24/7 roadside assistance.

2021 Subaru XV 2.0i S 5

What’s it go like?

Despite the fact they share the same four cylinder petrol engine.

And despite the hybrid is a more powerful option, on paper at least — the petrol model seems to go better.

With an extra 66Nm of torque, courtesy of the electric motor, the hybrid should blow it into the weeds — but it doesn’t.

The 2.0-litre petrol engine produces 115Kw of power and 196Nm of torque, the latter at 4000 rpm.

In the hybrid the same delivers 5kW less, but gets an extra 12.3kW and 66Nm of torque from the electric motor.

It should be noted too that the petrol and electric motors are designed to work together only at medium speeds.

At speeds of up to 40km/h, the hybrid operates on pure battery power while at high speed the hybrid reverts to the petrol engine alone.

There’s some smoke and mirrors involved, however, because hybrids never produce a total of the two, but rather a modulated “combined” output — and Subaru does not quantify this.

Long story short, I really can’t explain the difference in performance.

I thought the extra weight of the hybrid, with its electric motor and batteries, might put a sizeable dent in it.

At the same time, the hybrid has a smaller fuel tank and puncture repair kit which should reduce the weight.

Either way, the hybrid weighs up to 96kg more, which is akin to having a passenger seat all the time and is likely to have an impact.

It pains me to say, but the petro model retains a CVT transmission, with 7 steps or gears — but the fine print reveals these ratios are different in each.

And the good news is that the petrol model is geared towards higher performance.

So. there you have it, maybe that’s the answer to our mystery?

By the way, CVT stands for Continuously Variable Transmission.

Unlike a standard auto, CVTs work on a “rubber band” principle, without set gears, that allows the engine to operate at fixed revs while the vehicle itself travels at varying speeds.

It’s a strange feeling and generates the “zoomy” feel that characterises CVTs — the bit most people including yours truly dislike.

In the petrol model, however, the zoominess isn’t as pronounced and it generally feels more refined and importantly more convincing — perhaps convincing enough to buy one.

The transmission is fitted with gear change paddles and auto-engine stop-start, with dual X-Mode for off road travel as well as two drive modes — Sport and Intelligent.

X-Mode centralises control of the engine, All-Wheel Drive, brakes and other critical components to help ensure safe driving even on poor surfaces.

This one gets larger 18 inch wheels fitted with 225/55 series Bridgestone Duelers and a space saver spare rather than the puncture repair kit in the hybrid.

With big wide opening doors, XV is an easy car to get in and out of, which will endear it to older drivers (not there yet).

It’s easy to drive too, with plenty of vision, comfy seats (a Subaru forte) and an easy to use touchscreen, and retains a CD player, which says something about the likely buyer of this car — and it gets satnav.

There’s also two-zone climate air, heated seats and a sunroof.

It’s very safe too with all the latest driver assist systems.

But with three info screens competing for attention, it’s a very busy dash.

With a 63-litre tank, it takes 91 RON unleaded and is rated of 7.0L/100km (hybrid 6.5).

We were getting 8.6L — just 200ml more than the 8.4 we got out of the hybrid which costs $3500 more.

Don’t know about you, but that doesn’t add up to me.

2021 Subaru XV 2.0i S 3

What we like?

  • Large door openings
  • Bright pleasant cabin
  • $3500 less than hybrid
  • Easy to drive
  • Reasonably comfortable
  • Safety plus

2021 Subaru XV 2.0i S 4

What we don’t like?

  • Just the CVT
  • Hate the colour (personal thing)

2021 Subaru XV 2.0i S 1

The bottom line?

Well, if we were thinking of purchasing the XV, this is the one we’d get — not the hybrid.

It’s $3500 cheaper and uses almost the same amount of fuel — a no brainer really.

But it’s still relatively pricey at almost $42,000 driveaway.

2021 Subaru XV 2.0i S 2

CHECKOUT: Subaru XV Hybrid: You’ll need to do better than that

CHECKOUT: Subaru Forester: Better off red


Subaru XV 2.0i S, priced from $37,290
  • Looks - 7.5/10
  • Performance - 7.5/10
  • Safety - 8/10
  • Thirst - 7/10
  • Practicality - 8/10
  • Comfort - 7/10
  • Tech - 7.5/10
  • Value - 8/10