THE XV has a lot riding on its shoulders as Subaru attempts to muscle its way into the highly competitive compact crossover market.
With the looks and practicality of a sport utility vehicle it is for those who want something more than a traditional family hatchback without going the whole hog of buying a proper off-roader.
It is equipped with two core Subaru technologies – symmetrical all-wheel drive and the flat four cylinder Boxer engine.
The responsive 2.0-litre petrol unit is a powerful ally from a standing start as well as being reasonably economical on the juice. Fuel efficiency is enhanced by automatic stop/start and the XV being one of the lightest vehicles in its class.
The engine line-up also includes a 1.6-litre petrol and a useful 2.0-litre diesel and there are three trim levels offered – S, SE and SE Lux Premium.
Subaru’s four-wheel drive system splits the drive between front and rear but whenever a front wheel or rear wheel slips, it adjusts accordingly so that maximum grip is always assured. It makes the XV sure-footed whatever the road conditions.
To be a player in this sphere eye-catching looks are essential and Subaru attempts to give the XV an edge with a tall compact body, stylish lines and robust side cladding.
Design cues boasted by other members of the Subaru family, such as the hexagonal grille and hawkeye-style lights, are also included on the XV while the front and rear overhangs are short giving the model a dynamic stance.
The XV, which is built in Japan. also benefits from fog lamps that blend seamlessly into the front bumper and in-your-face silver and black 17-inch alloy wheels.
A refined suspension means the ride is supple and well controlled, while the steering is neat, quick and accurate.
Subaru’s goal with the cabin was to create a relaxing and comfortable ambience and this has largely been achieved thanks to generous interior space and the use of good quality materials.
The dashboard design highlights the width of the interior while leather, metal and cloth have been used to give a sense of luxury.
Storage space is provided for small objects at well chosen locations around the driver. These cubby holes are ideal for personal items such as wallets, phones and portable music players.
There is a split rear-seat backrest which folds forward on to the fixed seat cushions to create an almost-flat cargo bay.
In XV models with a puncture repair kit – rather than a full-size spare wheel – cargo capacity is 380 litres with the rear seats upright and 1,270 litres with the rear seats folded flat. The omission of a full-size spare wheel also liberates a 15-litre under-floor storage compartment.
In safety tests the XV performed exceptionally well thanks to the seven airbags included on all models in the line-up. Stability control is also standard across the range helping to keep you out of trouble in the first place.
The XV’s warranty is a standard offering but included in the price of every model is a three-year package Subaru calls ‘Everything Taken Care of’.
ETCo offers minor dent and scratch repairs, alloy wheel repairs, monthly wash, annual valet, lost keys replacement, service collection and delivery, annual wheel alignment check, first MOT cover, accident management service; insurance excess cover contribution and winter wheel and tyre storage.
The benefits can be passed on to subsequent owners of the vehicle which should help resale values.
Subaru includes lots of goodies with every XV getting fully automatic air-conditioning, daytime running lights, heated front seats, wiper de-icers, CD player and a multi-function display.
Step up to the SE model and cruise control, folding door mirrors, dual-zone air-conditioning, rear view safety camera, rear privacy glass, plus a Bluetooth and USB interface are added.
The top-of-the range SE Lux Premium introduces a sunroof, keyless Smart Entry, push button engine start/stop, powered driver’s seat, leather seats and a sat nav to the mix.
The XV stacks up well if you want a car that needs to be more than just something to take the kids to school in, while also offering safety and aftercare systems designed to smooth your furrowed brow.
Subaru XV 2.0-litre SE
Mechanical: 150ps, 1,955cc, 4cyl petrol engine driving rear wheels via automatic gearbox
Max speed: 116mph
0-62mph: 10.5 seconds
Combined mpg: 40.9
Insurance group: 21
CO2 emissions: 160g/km
BiK rating: 23%
Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles