First Drive: Subaru XV

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The Subaru XV offers the market two models, the 2.0 CVT and the current model on test, the 2.0-S ES. Pricing starts at R 389 000 for the entry level and R445 000 for the top of the range ES model. However, both models come with a 5 Year/150 000 km warranty and a 3 Year/75 000km maintenance plan. Subaru's crossover offers a compact size with excellent off-road capabilities thanks to X-Mode. To really get the full Subaru experience we decided to spend some time on the open road with the XV so we took a drive down to the coast and spent a few days testing the vehicle. 

Interior & Exterior

Subaru never fails when it comes to their styling. When you step into the XV you have the same impressive interior as the Subaru Impreza thanks to the XV being built on the new Subaru Global Platform. The cabin felt premium, refined and solidly built. The interior was spacious with plenty of leg room, the leather seats and orange stitching looked sporty but were quite comfortable on our 6-hour drive down to the coast. I was really impressed with the attention to detail. You could tell that Subaru had something to say with this car. The 8" touchscreen infotainment system was easy to use and offered Bluetooth, TomTom Maps, Apple Car Play and Android Auto with voice recognition. I’m a big fan of the Apple car-play and this worked seamlessly with my Apple iPhone which was extremely convenient. The additional USB slots around the cabin were a nice touch and great for charging multiple devices.

Generally, I shy away from bright colours on cars but after spending the week with the Subaru XV the bright orange and the bold styling really got me to enjoy the uniqueness it offered. The XV's sporty and rugged look with its 18" black rims and trimming looked superior. The compact design of the XV does hamper the boot space but retracting the pullover flap does make up for any lost space.

Engine & Safety

The XV has a naturally-aspirated 2.0-litre flat 4 petrol motor and outputs 115 kW and 196 Nm going to all four wheels through Subaru's Lineartronic CVT. The engine offered fair performance and the CVT does take a bit of getting used to, not to mention the whinnying. Though truth be told, the XV did manage to move along in manual mode at higher revs giving the driver some control to make up for any sluggishness.

We know that safety is a top priority for any driver especially if they are interested in family vehicles. The Subaru XV is rated as one of the safest vehicles in the world. Safety awards like the Top Safety Pick+ from the IIHS, 5-stars in the Euro NCAP and Australian ANCAP ratings all offer total peace of mind for the occupants. Subaru has done exceptionally well in this regard and we have to commend them on their focus in this category and achievement.

Subaru offers a host of safety features and some worth sharing are Subaru's Vehicle Dynamics Control, steering-responsive headlights, high beam assist and Rear/Side Vehicle Detection which includes Blind Spot Detection, Lane Change Assist and Rear Cross Traffic Alert, all of which make for a superior sense of safety.

Ride & Handling

The Subaru Symmetrical AWD along with the new platform improves the comfort and handling. The AWD enhanced our overall impression on the road which provided that extra confidence which is especially handy in rainy conditions. The car feels sure-footed and offered a superb ride which we believe is on par with some of the more premium products.

X-Mode gives you off-road performance at the touch of a button. The technology takes command of the engine, transmission, braking and all-wheel drive to take on challenging conditions in varying terrain and includes built-in hill descent control.


Overall, we love the XV and we think it makes for a great family car. The R450 000 price tag may seem like a lot but you are getting every “optional” extra standard with a good amount of technology and let’s face it you can’t put a price on safety. You could opt for the entry-level model at R389K which cuts back on some of the tech and sporty upgrades if needed but is still great value.

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