The fact that most Subaru owners tend to keep their cars forever, is proof that the Japanese brand is doing something right by building cars that owners don’t feel the need to chop in for something new every couple of years as well as providing cars that are built to last.
Being a massive fan of Subaru myself since the days of the GrpA ‘555’ Impreza rally car with Colin McRae at the helm, my love of the brand has never faded even though I have never actually owned one as yet. Despite having driven several over the years, still on my bucket list of cars to own is Subaru’s most popular model, the Forester.
Producing over 900,000 cars last year, Subaru built more 4×4 vehicles than any other manufacturer which is a staggering fact when you think of Land Rover for ease of global comparison. In fact out of seven models within the Subaru range, six of them are equipped with the maker’s renowned permanent symmetrical all-wheel drive system.
This symmetrical drive-train offers gains in all aspects of driving from on-road agility and stability to off-road ability and control as we found out whilst at Grange Farm Leisure in Peterborough a few days ago thanks to Subaru UK.
Starting from just over £17k for an Impreza, the Subaru range is incredibly affordable with around £32k buying you a more than capable and very well kitted out Forester for example which is around the same money that a few competitors vehicles would start from.
Another area of car manufacturing that Subaru are infamous for is their “Boxer” engine, which celebrates its fiftieth birthday this year. An engine that compliments the Subaru drive-train perfectly as they work in harmony to provide an unrivaled driving experience thanks to the sports-car like, low centre of gravity.
Most commonly known for petrol engines, of which the most sought after versions were equipped with turbocharges in days gone by, Subaru in modern times also have a more efficient diesel option available which has proved very popular.
This 2.0 turbo diesel unit can be found in the Forester, Outback and XV models all of which are designed around rural, country estate and off-road adventurist ownership. A 2.5 petrol can be found in the Outback with a turbocharged variant coming in the WRX STi [read our review of the WRX STi here].
Subaru’s only two wheel drive model, the rear wheel drive BRZ comes with a 2.0 petrol engine whilst the Impreza and Levorg come with a 1.6 petrol engine with the Levorg [read our review of the Levorg here] unit being turbocharged.
A lineartronic automatic gearbox is on offer in many models whilst other models are only available with said ‘box and Subaru’s safety feature ‘EyeSight’ will be rolled into the range over the coming years with all 2017 Levorg models coming with it as standard. EyeSight is only available on lineartronic cars.
I tested the eyesight technology whilst at a Subaru Ireland day recently [read all about the EyeSight here] and as such won’t go into detail here other than to say it is one of the most advanced systems around and that it acts as a second pair of eyes to assist drivers.
Subaru also have an X-mode system for the Outback and Forester which assists drivers on slippery conditions as well as enabling hill decent control which works fantastically well off-road and I can imagine would be very useful in heavy snow etc.
Finally, Subaru have an SI-drive mode available in the Levorg, Forester, WRX STi and Outback Which offers ‘intelligent mode’ for smoother and more economical driving, ‘sport mode’ for a more responsive faster experience with a ‘sport sharp’ mode for the days your late for work or chasing a rally event around the countryside.
I think it is safe to say that safety, drivability and all around agility is paramount with the full Subaru range and via the off-road driving day mentioned at the start I was able to get the chance to put the Forester, Outback and XV through their paces with no asphalt in sight.
An experience that was very worthwhile as it highlighted to me that cars such as the XV, which to me would park in a field at the local point to point, or perhaps carry the odd bucket of meal to the gate of a field, is actually very capable of heading right up a mountain to tend to the sheep, never mind doing everything else on the way there with ease.
The XV fits into the small cross-over market and on that basis alone I will go as far as saying it is the only one within the segment capable of anything more demanding than a reasonably looked after lawn. On-road the Subaru XV is very comfortable, even with four adults on board as we foudn out on the short journey to the venue and off-road it done everything that was asked of it.
If a proper go anywhere vehicle is what you are after or if you just want a very safe car with superior road holding then seriously consider Subaru when the time comes to change.
I will be doing another two articles in the coming week to cover the Outback and Forester respectively on what they can offer and how they coped off-road, so keep an eye out for that.
Words & Photos: Graham Curry