Subaru XV

XV lr


By Tim Saunders

Driving the Subaru XV early in the morning on quiet roads is a really fabulous experience. Put your foot down and although there is a delay from the automatic transmission, when it gets going, it keeps going and there is a gutsy roar from that Boxer engine, which I love. And very little traffic to slow you down. This is an excellent driver’s car, it doesn’t handle like an estate. This all wheel drive hugs the road no matter what is thrown at it. Back roads allow it to be driven as it should be, like a sports car. Yet, it is quite high up, which means that visibility is good. The main roads with their speed cameras and variable speed motorway demand cruise control and this can be relied upon for not veering away from the set speed regardless of incline.

The high build quality, metallic blue finish and hard wearing black leather interior all receive a thumbs up. I like the red stitching, too. The alloys have some character and overall it delivers around 36mpg for the duration of the test, which includes a variety of driving styles.

I take it to Guernsey to put it through its paces and it doesn't let me down. It tackles all manner of roads from narrow to even narrower. Probably the most challenging is when the sat nav (which repeatedly fails to acknowledge no entries or closed roads) leads us down another very narrow incline. Here we are suddenly met with a couple of parked cars to my right. “Oh my goodness, what are we going to do?” shouts my wife, panicking. “You’ll never get through that gap. Look, there’s a stone wall to your left and the parked cars on your right.”

I sigh. “Don’t worry dear,” I say soothingly. “Watch this.”

Crawling down the road with my wife fretting beside me and the children, for once, quiet in the back, I wind my window down and politely ask the driver, “Please can you pull your wing mirrors in.”

I think she might be French but she eventually understands. I pull mine in too and hey presto, there’s enough space to drive through. Power folding wing mirrors are a great help in such circumstances. We survive and conquer and continue our journey around St Peter Port on a late Saturday night.

It surprises me how bullish so many drivers are in Guernsey when the roads are so challenging. I spy a number of damaged vehicles, which makes me even more cautious. I cannot imagine how lorry or coach drivers cope here but they seem to.

Island speeds tend to be no more than 35mph, which means the mild hybrid kicks in reasonably frequently. The driver has to be ever so light with their right foot though and this can result in it travelling a few hundred yards, perhaps even a mile before transferring to the engine again.

We love the glass sunroof, which gets a lot of use during this summer road test. The electric windows are often down, too. However, if we happen to be a bit cold from messing about in the sea we simply switch on the heated front seats and regain our composure.

The boot is cavernous, too, which is just as well for all our holiday luggage.

Facts at a glance

Engine: 2-litre petrol hybrid
Power: 150bhp
Top speed: 120mph
0 to 60mph: 10.7secs


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