From a young age, I have been a big fan of the Subaru brand, right from the time that Colin McRae rallied the Subaru Legacy, that infamous sound from the boxer engine echoing around the stages is a noise only bettered by some of the old Grip B rally cars.
Subaru have always catered for most sectors within the car market and indeed in Ireland had two major buying groups that stand out to me. Agricultural folk, who adore the capability and reliability of the Japanese brand and young enthusiasts of the brand who love Subaru for the performance and handling that many models offered.
For years though, Subaru have been one of those car makers that didn’t offer huge amounts of quality or refinement in the cabin compared to its rivals; however what they lacked inside, it more than made up for underneath with its hugely reliable mechanical’s.
The Japanese manufacturer has set about changing this in recent years however and after driving a few different models throughout the range last year, there is a very noticeable improvement for the better within the whole range.
This brings me to the all new Subaru Levorg. Generally Subaru have tended to keep model names for decades; such as the Impreza, Forester and Outback with each model getting changed dramatically every so often as technology moves on, though they always kept their names.
The Levorg is a little different as although it is a replacement model for the Legacy Estate, due to the Legacy name still being used in other markets around the globe, Subaru have had to come up with a new name and thus the Levorg is born. This review is a little late coming, as we have actually had two Levorg’s out for review.
The car pictured was a weekend review courtesy of Desmond Eastwood Motors while the most recent test drive was a week long affair which allowed me to get to grips with the Levorg better and was thanks to Subaru UK. At a glance the Levorg is a stunning estate car indeed with chunky arches and the expected bonnet scoop that is somewhat trademark of the brand.
With a large open grill and front and rear lighting that wrap around the cars bodywork the Levorg is certainly sleek and visually it sits very low to the ground with the molded side skirts running the full length of the sill.
Around the rear a dual exit exhaust protrudes from the lower rear diffuser and at the bottom of the rear window, on the tailgate is what resembles a molded chin spoiler with a colour coded roof spoiler at the top of the tailgate with shark fin aerial on the rear of the roof.
On opening the tailgate I was very impressed by the huge amount of room the boot offers and with split/folding rear seats and a completely flat loading bay this area is very usable, combined with the large opening area into the boot I feel this car perfect for many owners.
For the rural user there is more than enough room for a small bale and a few bags of meal while the active city user can avail of very convenient buttons just inside the boot that once pulled release the rear seats instantly flattening them to allow loading of bikes, water sports gear or equine equipment.
Family life would be a complete breeze with the Levorg as there is enough room in the boot for a couple of buggy’s combined with shopping, perhaps a set of golf clubs with a trolley or enough space for a spaniel and a week’s luggage for a family road trip.
Inside the all new Subaru Levorg is far removed from the Subaru’s of old with its soft leather heated seats up front encased in blue stitching that were incredibly comfortable whilst the blue stitching and leather continues to the gear stick, steering wheel, door cards and dash.
Don’t get me wrong, there is still some room for improvement with the plastics inside as they are still a little utilitarian but in general the inside of the Levorg is a nice comfortable place to be that looks welcoming. The dash itself I found to be very well laid out and all of the controls/infotainment well within reach and simple to use.
Throughout the cabin, both front and rear there are more USB ports than many desktop PC’s for charging devices with the main one in the lower dash acting as the sync port to integrate with the app radio that comes as standard.
The infotainment hub is a tablet like 7 inch full colour touch screen which is perfectly sized and is equipped with BlueTooth, Sat Nav and reverse camera as well as Subaru’s starlink which allows access to internet radio and entertaining apps.
Above this screen, on top of the dash in its own housing is the Subaru multi-function display which shows various information about the car, how it is performing, what the economy is like and also vehicle stats and clock.
When it comes to choosing your Levorg, Subaru have kept things very easy for you as there is actually only one model available with a choice of only three colours, one engine and a single gearbox. Yes that’s right, the Levorg only comes as a “1.6i GT Lineartronic”.
In simple terms this means the Levorg is a 1.6L turbo (twin scroll) petrol boxer engine coupled to an automatic lineartronic gearbox which puts the power to the ground via Subaru’s renowned symmetrical all wheel drive system.
On starting the engine via the key-less push button starter, there isn’t that instant boxer burble that I expected however when driven in a spirited manner, this infamous burble soon makes itself known which is a good thing.
Producing 168bhp with 184lb/ft the Levorg is far from sluggish, propelling itself to 60mph in just 8.6 seconds and acceleration via the lineartronic gearbox is instant and somewhat electric car like due to the nature of the drive train, fuel consumption is equally as rapid too with an average over a week of mixed driving of mid to late twenties.
This gearbox is equipped with paddle shift but I will admit, when on a rush along a nice meandering coastal road, the paddles are more of a guide as to where you want the gearing to be rather than the exact spot you need the gearing, a twin clutch type gearbox with paddle shift would really feel at home in the Levorg.
The driving experience is aided with Subaru’s Intelligent Drive (SI-Drive) which in the words of Subaru “allows a selection of engine and transmission characteristics according to the drivers driving style, driving expectations and driving situations”. Sport mode on the Levorg was very noticeable and still incredibly refined.
The engine itself was very refined and due to the boxer configuration of the engine, all of the weight sits very low meaning this Subaru offers one of the lowest, most natural centres of gravity around which in turn benefits the handling no end.
Via the 18 inch alloy wheels, Subaru’s symmetrical all wheel drive system comes into its own, it performs in harmony with the nature of the boxer engine and I can honestly say the Levorg is probably the best handling estate car I have ever driven; it was simply fantastic and inspiring.
With pricing starting at £27,495 and very few options available (if it were me ordering I would have the full STi lower spoiler kit all round as it simply looks stunning) the Subaru Levorg is certainly good value for the spec and it really is in a class of its own in regards to performance and practicality Vs price.
Words & Photos: Graham Curry