We drove the Subaru XV e-boxer: with e-power into the go-anywhere future…

The XV embodies perfectly what a Subaru stands for: it is compact, styled with zest and panache, versatile, rugged and of course crammed from bumper to bumper with state of the art, innovative and exclusive technology. This legendary Subaru boxer technology, combined with unique 4WD capability comes now to you with additional e-power, to make this Subaru fit for the E future which is coming upon us.

Subaru prefers rugged no-nonsense go anywhere capability, and therefore opts for hybrid technology: the 2 litre direct injected boxer engine is coupled via a Lineartronic CVT Transmission to a 12.3 kW e-motor which sits right behind the engine and is fed by a 13.5 kWh battery pack which sits behind the rear wheels. E power is available at slow speeds up to 40 km/h. Subaru describes this as the EV driving mode. Depending on the enthusiasm of your right foot and the state of charge of the battery pack, you could drive on E power over distance of up to 1,6 kilometers at speeds, as we said earlier, of up to 40 km/h. In practice, the battery and motor just assist the combustion engine when driving away from traffic lights and in slow stop and go traffic.

When you really keep your right foot very calm, a lot can be gained here. As you servant is well trained with his Lexus 200 CTH, it was no trouble at all to eke out a consumption of 6 litres/100 km in tightest urban traffic. It just takes a good amount of concentration and anticipation.

The Subaru changes very smoothly from E- to petrol power and vice versa at varying speeds above 40 km/h in the “engine assist function.” Nice too is that the CVT transmission has 6 “steps” or ratios if you want to, so you can avoid that the willing boxer revs too high for your liking when you really put your foot down and accelerate hard on a motorway entrance for instance.

At higher speeds, the petrol engine takes over fully and charges also the battery. The beauty of hybrids is that you can use them anywhere, anytime, for any distance, just like any other petrol engined car. With a significant reduction in petrol consumption if you understand them and know how to drive them…

We averaged between 6 and seven litres/100 km on our regular routes. The manufacturer quotes 6,5 litre/100 km as average consumption, and 149 g/km in CO2 emissions.

Off road capability…

But then, this car is a Subaru. This means king of the road, off-road. The XV offers go anywhere capability with its Symmetrical AWD, and its further developed X Mode. This mode effectively remaps the 4WD system, using the E motor to modulate the traction on all 4 wheels even more finely. Taking the family out on a weekend skiing or having fun in the snow: this Subaru gets you there and back… and how!

Good performer

Although it will not invite you to throw it around corners, it certainly has the rally-bred stamina to do it. This XV has legendary on-road handling, and remains controllable and neutral no matter in what situation you put it in. The hazards of winter season and/or slippery roads simply do not exist for the XV.

Outright performance leaves nothing to be desired: 0 to 100 km/h is reached in 10.3 seconds, top speed is a healthy 193 km/h.

Of course the Subaru is an excellent motorway cruiser. The suspension is comfortable, the XV rolls on the brand new Subaru Global Platform which added considerably more body stiffness, but then a very stiff body is also prone to resonances, and there is some road/tyre/wheel noise noticeable.

Subaru’s EyeSight keeps you safe

Another point we cannot miss to mention is the superb EyeSight Driver Assist Technology. Driving in thick fog on motorways, winding forest roads has no collision risk for you anymore. Two stereocamera’s sit on both sides of the rear view mirror and keep an eye on the road ahead. Coupled with the adaptive cruise control, the system will assist in keeping a safe distance and adapt speed automatically to the car in front of you over a very wide speed range between 0 and 180 km/h.

Well-equipped and pleasant cabin

The XV dashboard has three screens, two on the centre console, and one between the nicely finished round instruments for speed and revs. Infotainment is intuitive and easy to use, and leaves nothing to be desired. The whole cabin is well finished, quality of materials used is very good, sturdy and fit for no nonsense practical use for years to come, in the good Subaru tradition.

Boot space is not enormous, due also partially to the rear battery pack, but the standard 355 litres can be easily enlarged when the rear seats are folded down. On the other hand, the Subaru still has a healthy 1270 kg braked trailer pulling power, and if you have any doubts about Subaru’s mettle, just have a look at the numerous You Tube films where Subaru’s are pulling stranded trucks out of snowy ditches…

Conclusion

Together with the Forester, Subaru now has two (partially) E-powered models in its range, and the ever so popular XV has become even more desirable now. Embodying all the traditional legendary Subaru qualities, the XV now offers excellent economy and the “Zen” driving style which comes with electric propulsion. Definitely have a long hard look at thisone when you consider buying a crossover in this segment. This car has so many unquestioned and unique talents, you shouldn’t miss it for anything in this automotive world.

Hans Knol ten Bensel

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