Subaru XV 2.0i 2012 Review

Subaru XV 2.0i 2012 Review

Going back to the early ‘90s when I started driving, I would sometimes turn the car engine off if I knew I had a long wait at some traffic lights. I figured that 3 minutes of idling would take more fuel than it would to restart the engine. It was my mix of practicality coupled with being a poor student. Twenty years later more and more cars are doing this automatically and Subaru’s XV is one of them.

The XV, though, is the first car I’ve driven which tells you exactly how much you are saving. The counter ticks up at around 1ml of fuel every six seconds. Therefore for every hour you sit waiting at the lights you could theoretically save 600ml of fuel.

Your actual savings matter very much on the type of driving you do, though. In my week with the car I managed to save a paltry

110ml. I try to avoid driving when there’s a lot of traffic and my route to work doesn’t include any lights so for me, this technology is not going to pay for itself. One journey from Parkside HQ (Richmond Rd) to K Rd at 2pm and saved 25ml alone, so there are savings to be had.

However, the main problem with the system is that it doesn’t turn the engine off when it’s cold, if the air conditioning is on, and sometimes just randomly like if you’re on an incline or the wheels aren’t straight (I couldn’t verify this, but it didn’t always stop when I expected it to). In Auckland you’ll be running the air conditioning for six months of the year so you won’t get any benefit from it.

Therefore this technology isn’t going to be relevant for everyone. In a way, Subaru may have shot itself in the foot by providing these figures. The Kia Rio I had last week just turned the engine off and on without providing any feedback and I assumed the whole of the Amazon rainforest would rejoice. Now I know that the savings are quite a lot less than I thought.

The Subaru XV is a crossover (SUV meets hatchback) that, in the true tradition of a Subaru, will get you over the rough stuff with some solid 4WD capability but without being compromised on the road. Subaru touts its boxer engine plus symmetrical all-wheel drive as giving a lower centre of gravity and a better balance between all four wheels than other compact SUVs. The drive is divided between the wheels using active torque split to ensure that the power is delivered as efficiently as possible.

The XV shares much of its mechanical underpinnings with the new Impreza which has always been a car that handles well. This has translated across to the XV so that it doesn’t feel like you are driving a big, tall car, even though there’s 220mm of ground clearance (65mm more than an Impreza).

It’s propelled by a 2-litre boxer engine which is used across the range. This is mated to a Lineartronic CVT gearbox. I’m not a big fan of CVT, but this particular variant of CVT doesn’t feel so bad. It comes with paddle shifters on the steering wheel if you want to have more control. There’s only 110kW available and 196Nm of torque therefore acceleration isn’t phenomenal, but it does help keep the fuel consumption down to a respectable 7l/100km for the automatic ‘box. Couple this with a handy 60-litre fuel tank and you can travel long distances on the open road.

If your driving involves steep hills in high gears you will have to work the engine hard to maintain speed. The XV may have been better with a turbodiesel and slightly shorter gearing to give it a bit more oomph.

225/55R17 wheels are wide enough to make it difficult to unsettle the XV. If you do manage it (and it will be understeer), you’ll get a warning on the dash and a graphic displays exactly what has happened. Additional handling and braking prowess is provided by vehicle dynamics control with electronic throttle control, and ASB with electronic brakeforce distribution.

There are three models in the range, all of which have fundamentally the same performance. The top-of-the-line model comes in at $48,990 and has leather and satellite navigation, but you can have an entry level model with a manual gearbox for ten thousand less. We’re driving that model with the automatic gearbox ($40,990).

The exterior is growing on me. Subaru’s vehicles haven’t been pretty for a long time and the XV doesn’t attempt to be Charlize Theron. The front end features a pair of hawk-eye headlights and a boldly chunky bumper and wheel arches. The 17-inch mags are stunning and even the roof rack has some interesting design features.

On the inside there’s a multifunction display with interesting graphics for the trip computer and general vehicle statistics. You can wirelessly integrate your mobile phone using Bluetooth and you can plug your iPod or USB-compatible MP3 player into the six-speaker stereo.

The XV comes with a reversing camera as standard which is welcome because it’s tall and has bulges which makes judging reversing harder just using the mirrors.

I only have two issues with the XV: one is that the boot floor is very high and this means that the space under the boot blind is tiny. Subaru says that you get 340l of space with the seats up, but that is not with the boot blind in place. The second is that I could not get the headrest comfortable and I felt that it was pushing my head forwards, despite me trying several seating positions. Over the week I got used to this but still would have preferred a slightly different seating position.

The XV’s price stacks up well against the competition – the likes of Mitsubishi’s ASX and Hyundai’s ix35. They don’t have as much ground clearance, (in general) the Subaru is a bit more frugal on the dinosaur juice and it definitely feels more solid on the inside than the ASX.

The XV also gets back some of Subaru’s appeal to the younger drivers. Legacy, Forester and Impreza models of late (excluding STi versions) have seemed more aimed at 40+ families and fleet buyers than when I was 24 hankering after a WRX. Astute buyers who purchase based on spec as much as whether they like the looks will find that the XV is very well appointed compared to the competition, and who can resist those alloy wheels? However, despite its less interesting looks, I would go for the Forester X or XS because it’s more practical (boot is way bigger), more powerful, has the same ground clearance and sits in a similar price range.

Price: as tested $40,990


  • The potential to save you money if you do a lot of rush hour motoring
  • Interesting styling and a good range of colours
  • Trumps most of the competitors for value-for-money


  • Headrest positioning didn’t suit me
  • Small boot space
  • A bit sluggish in the higher gears




Transmission Manual Automatic
6-speed manual transmission Yes
LineartronicTM CVT Yes
Gear ratio 1st 3.545 3.581
Gear ratio 2nd 1.888 Continuously variable
Gear ratio 3rd 1.296 Continuously variable
Gear ratio 4th 0.972 Continuously variable
Gear ratio 5th 0.78 Continuously variable
Gear ratio 6th 0.695 0.57
Gear ratio reverse 3.636 3.667
Final reduction gear ratio 4.444 3.7


Engine Manual Automatic
Engine Type Horizontally-opposed Boxer 4-cylinder, petrol engine Horizontally-opposed Boxer 4-cylinder, petrol engine
Bore x stroke 84.0mm x 90.0mm 84.0mm x 90.0mm
Capacity 1995cc 1995cc
Compression ratio 10.5 10.5
Valve mechanism DOHC with AVCS DOHC with AVCS
Fuel tank capacity 60 litres 60 litres
Fuel system Multi point sequential injection Multi point sequential injection
Fuel requirement 91-98RON 91-98RON
Cyinders 4 4


Performance @ Manual Automatic
Maximum power output (DIN) 110kW@6200rpm 110kW@6200rpm
Maximum torque (DIN) 196Nm@4200rpm 196Nm@4200rpm
Electronic Throttle Control system (ETC) Drive-by-wire Drive-by-wire
Fuel consumption (ADR 81/02)^ – combined 7.3 l/100km 7 l/100km
Fuel consumption (ADR 81/02)^ – urban 9.2 l/100km 8.9 l/100km
Fuel consumption (ADR 81/02)^ – extra urban 6.2 l/100km 5.9 l/100km
CO2 emissions (ADR 81/02) combined 168 g/km 162 g/km
Emission standards EURO5 EURO5

Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive

Symmetrical All Wheel Drive Manual Automatic
Centre Differential with a Viscous Limited Slip Differential Yes
Active Torque Split Yes


Steering Manual Automatic
Steering Engine speed sensitive power assisted rack and pinion Engine speed sensitive power assisted rack and pinion
Minimum turning circle (kerb to kerb) 10.6m 10.6m


Suspension Manual Automatic
Front McPherson strut type, independent suspension McPherson strut type, independent suspension
Rear Double wishbone type, independent suspension Double wishbone type, independent suspension


Brakes Manual Automatic
Front Ventilated disc brake Ventilated disc brake
Rear Solid disc brake Solid disc brake
Brake booster type Tandem Tandem
ABS 4-channel, 4-sensor ABS with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution 4-channel, 4-sensor ABS with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution


Wheels and Tyres Manual Automatic
Tyre manufacturer Yokohama Yokohama
Tyres (width, profile, size, load index and speed rating) 225/55R17 97V 225/55R17 97V
Rim size 17x7J 17x7J
Wheels 17″ 17″
Spare wheel Temporary 17″ Steel spare wheel Temporary 17″ Steel spare wheel


Measurement Manual Automatic
Measurement Manual Automatic
Overall length 4450mm 4450mm
Overall width 1780mm 1780mm
Overall height 1615mm 1615mm
Wheel base 2635mm 2635mm
Front track 1525mm 1525mm
Rear track 1525mm 1525mm
Minimum ground clearance~ 220mm 220mm
Cargo volume – rear seat up 310 litres 310 litres
Cargo volume – rear seat down 741 litres 741 litres
Seating capacity 5 5
Tare mass> 1350kg 1380kg


Towing Manual Automatic
With trailer brakes 1400kg 1400kg
Without trailer brakes 650kg 650kg


@ All performance data measured using 95RON as required by Australian Design Rule 81/02. Vehicles tested in accordance with ADR 81/02.

^ Fuel consumption figures calculated in accordance with Australian Design Rule 81/02.

~ Ground clearance at kerb weight.

> Vehicle tare mass varies according to the types of optional equipment included.

Words and photos Darren Cottingham

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