The crossover segment in Malaysia is nothing short of a buffet at the moment. With newcomers such as the Proton X50 and the Hyundai Kona, disrupting the dominance of the Honda HR-V, Mazda CX-3 and to some extent, the Toyota C-HR (when it was new).
It’s easy to see the charm in these things. The HR-V has red badge most covet, the C-HR looks like a funky sports shoe, and the X50 has so much value for money, it gives an average joe the first taste of the “good life” for the price of a Proton. Appealing as these things are, none can hold the candle to the (often overlooked) Subaru XV when it comes to these few aspects.
For starters, there’s the cabin insulation. It’s most apparent every time you wind up the windows; it feels like you just got zip-locked into an airtight bag. In fact, it’s so well insulated it’s annoying because the Continental tyres fitted were so noisy it ruined the peace in the cabin.
Cabin space is another strong suit of the XV. Whether it’s head, knee, or legroom, there’s no question the XV leads the way. You may able to fit or rather squeeze three adults in the backseat of the Honda, Toyota, and Mazda but in the XV, it actually ferries them comfortably.
The C-HR, with all its good looks on the outside, has the least substance and fares the worst in this aspect. With its tiny rear windows, it even feels claustrophobic. It’s a good thing it looks good and that as we know, is all that matters these days.
As for the XV, while it may be longer, wider, taller with a longer wheelbase than the C-HR, CX-3 and HR-V, it’s still isn’t as big as the larger SUVs like the Mazda CX-5 and Honda CR-V. If there are any concerns in terms of maneuverability, you can put them to rest.
Then there’s the comfort and refinement aspect of the XV. Subaru’s billion-dollar investment into a new platform has resulted in the new Subaru Global Platform (SGP) on which the Forester is built as well.
Not only does is the chassis stiffer and safer, but it also allows the suspension to be tuned for comfort and the results speak for itself. You might label these comments as nothing more than paid cock and bull and rightfully so but after a consecutive test drive of all the crossovers, you’d be eating your words.
Lastly, there’s the Symmetrical All-wheel Drive System that’s the pride and joy, the golden egg of Subaru and the very thing makes a Subaru, a Subaru.
Most all-wheel drive (AWD) SUVs aren’t really all-wheel drive, all the time. Majority of the time they’re front-wheel drive and only when the car detects that more traction is needed, will it send power to the rear-wheels effectively making it all-wheel drive.
With Subaru’s Symmetrical All-wheel Drive system, power is sent equally to all four wheels, all the time. So what you have is unparalleled amounts of traction on the road at all times and the difference can’t be more apparent. Just ask your friend who owns an XV for a test drive and you’d understand.
This might sound like a paid advertorial but the opposite is true. We just figured that with all the hype surrounding the new Kona and X50, blanketed by the ever-present C-HR, HR-V and CX-3, it’s only fair to shed some light on the underdog.
Despite all the positive qualities of the XV, it is not without flaws – no car is ever perfect. Firstly, it’s the entire dashboard architecture. It’s neither ugly nor is it the most attractive and over the years, it hasn’t aged as well as fine wine. The X50’s arrival hasn’t done it any favours either.
Then there’s the infotainment system and its interface that looks like a typewriter in the age of smartphones. It may be practical and easy to use, but that kind of appearance has no place in a world where the X50 exists. People who chase the latest iPhones and gadgets certainly wouldn’t find the displays very appealing. Unfortunately, that very demographic is one that the Subaru XV is targeted at.
All in all, it wouldn’t be at all bias to say that it’s a great crossover but there’s plenty to iron out if Subaru is serious about staying relevant in the crossover game. We wouldn’t wanna see roads filled with nothing but X50s, do we?
***Again, this isn’t a paid article. It’s is merely the opinion of someone who has spent considerable time in all of the abovementioned crossovers. Also, because even underdogs deserve some stage time in the spotlight. Although if Subaru feels the need to reward us for supplementing their little to non-existent marketing efforts, we’d be happy to have the XV for a few days ; )