Subaru XV stands out from the pack

DIFFERENT: Tim Farrah says in a very crowded market, the unique styling of the Subaru XV is a good thing.
DIFFERENT: Tim Farrah says in a very crowded market, the unique styling of the Subaru XV is a good thing.

In the same vein as Apple, Subaru is a brand that those who have them swear by, while the rest of us wonder what the fuss is about.

Subarus are different; not necessarily better or worse, just different. In a market where there are more than 80 mid-sized SUVs to choose from, different is good – especially when many of the others are nearly identical.

That the XV is different is obvious from the start. It’s looks divided our friends and family pretty much 50-50, but those who loved it, really loved it. It certainly is distinctive. It doesn’t stop with the exterior; inside there’s orange stitching around the seats and dash, giving the car a sporty, unique feel.

The XV is built by Subaru in Japan and it’s noticeable in the quality of the finish.

All the joins sit well, the buttons and switches have a nice solid feel to them and the trim flows nicely from door to door. The dials and controls are clearly marked and big enough to see easily; you don’t need the accuracy of a smart bomb to hit the one you want. This is especially true on the steering wheel, where the time your eyes are off the road is minimised because it’s not cluttered. Switches are a decent size and the layout is well designed.

Everyone thought the seats were comfortable, except me. I couldn’t get the driver’s seat to suit me. I was either too upright or too far away from the steering wheel.

Mrs Stig had no issues though and liked the nippiness of the car, but thought the engine was a bit noisy.

Due to its configuration it makes a nice raspy sound, which I quite liked, but it’s another of the car’s individualities people will love, or not. On that, the XV has Subaru’s 2 litre “Boxer” engine, which at 115kw is just lacking a bit of grunt compared to its competitors, but it’s only really noticeable when it was fully loaded with the teenagers in the back.

The XV would be an easy car to live with; nimble in traffic, smooth to drive, with enough room in the back for our tall teenagers and a generous boot for most uses. It’s loaded with safety features – lane departure, adaptive cruise control and a host of others. The entertainment/connectivity package is excellent, as is the clarity of the sat-nav and reversing camera. At $36,000 drive away, the XV Premium is pretty good value. Combining its class leading build quality with Subaru’s renowned reliability means ongoing maintenance should be kept to the capped servicing costs.

It’s nice to see some individuality in a market segment seemingly dominated by cookie cutter cars.

If you’re looking for something a bit different but fun, the XV should be on your list to test drive. Our thanks to Baker Motors for supplying our test car.