Crushing on a crossover » Manila Bulletin Newsbit

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Subaru XV 2.0i Premium

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Text and photos by Eric Tipan

Ever had a car crush?I’ve kind of have a thing for the Subaru XV since it came out in 2012. I know it’s a little ‘long in the tooth’, being five years old and all, but it’s an infatuation that’s hard to shake off.

So slender and shapely, it’s probably the only crossover out there that looks downright gorgeous from any angle.Slung so low to increase aero efficiency, it also ratchets up the sexy factor to the level of ‘ooooooo-nice’.

But as great as its overall design is, its best (exterior) features, for me, are the small touches here and there. The blacked-out fender flares, side skirts, front and rear bumper guard somehow blend perfectly with the XV no matter if its orange or white. Silver roof rails and rear skid plate add the necessary touch of toughness that, as you will find out later, is not just skin deep.

INTERIOR

Some ‘crushes’ disappoint, like the time you finally meet her and she’s turns out to be nasty and mean.Such is not the case here.The XV is neatly arranged and almost manicured down to every edge and crevice of the cabin.Beautiful orange stitching on the fine leather seats, steering wheel, center console and shift knob are the first indication Subaru’s attention to every interior detail of the XV.

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The seats are a tad stiff, perhaps owing to the tightly stretched leather, but it does give it a very tidy appearance.

And the leather’s surface gloss, or lack of it really, is somehow matched by the matte finish of the cockpit’s hard and soft-touch plastics combo. Its only accent comes from the sprinkling of chrome and the glossy seven-inch infotainment system that also serves as the reverse monitor.

It comes with two USB ports, an AUX-in, a Bluetooth hands-free system, plus a multifunction display sitting on top of the dashboard for data on fuel consumptions, Vehicle Dynamics Control, temperature and various self-maintenance checks.

ENGINE, DRIVE LAYOUT AND ACTIVE SAFETY SYSTEMS

As good as it has been so far, the best really has yet to come.What drives the XV is also what makes it special – it’s a horizontally opposed four-cylinder DOHC 16-valve 2.0L engine and its symmetrical all-wheel drive (AWD) system.The 150 PS and 196 Nm of torque is driven to the wheels using Subaru’s compact Lineartronic continuously variable transmission (CVT) with manual mode activated using paddle shifters behind the steering wheel.SUBARU_1

Instead of the typical front-wheel drive setup of most crossovers, the XV uses a system that sends power to all four wheels. It is slightly front-biased with a 60:40 torque split, which I didn’t really notice, but the power and grip with every throttle input was unmistakable.

Imperceptibly working in the background is the XV’s Vehicle Dynamics Control System that constantly checks for over- or understeer and tire slippage, and then adjusts the AWD torque distribution, engine output and brakes on each wheel accordingly.

FALLING FOR THE DRIVE

As the engine’s pistons are directly opposed to each other, the vibrations of each firing motion cancel each other out, making it quite literally, a smooth operator.With its weight spread out evenly across, there’s less weight on the crankshaft and minimal power lost due rotational inertia.Plus, because of the horizontal design, fluids in the engine are more evenly dispersed, allowing for cooler operation.Balanced, smooth and with a low center of gravity, the engine alone greatly contributes to better cornering capability and decreased roll effect.

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While you may not feel all that if you’re not pushing the XV to its limits, you will notice the performance of the symmetrical AWD from your toes all the way to your fingertips.The XV just moves with so much more poise compared to its crossover competition. I could feel from the steering wheel as each wheel gripped the road and let me tell you right now, the confidence it gave me as a driver is priceless.

Acceleration may not be suck-your-eyeballs fast, but it comes with an amount of solid steadiness that only comes when all four wheels are clawing on the road. While drive layout is fuel-intensive, the CVT allowed it to average 8.5 km/l in 6 days (four in the city and two in a rural setting).

The P1.538 million price tag may be on the high side of the segment but it does come with a slightly bigger engine and an AWD layout.When all good factors come together, crushes sometimes become true love and whoever said love is free has clearly never been in a relationship.

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