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First drive: Subaru Levorg. Image by Subaru.

First drive: Subaru Levorg
Subaru Levorg looks back for inspiration, when perhaps it needs to look forward.

   



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Subaru Levorg

3 3 3 3 3

Delighting in the unconventional, Subaru's new Levorg is a practical four-wheel drive, petrol boxer-engined wagon for the Subaru faithful, and it's coming to the UK.

Test Car Specifications

Model tested: Subaru Levorg GT-S
Price: to be confirmed
Engine: 1.6-litre four-cylinder petrol turbo boxer
Transmission: four-wheel drive, CVT automatic
Body style: five-door estate
CO2 emissions: 164g/km (Band G, £180 per year)
Combined economy: 39.7mpg
Top speed: 130mph
0-62mph: 8.9 seconds
Power: 170hp at 4,800rpm
Torque 250Nm at 1,800- to 4,800rpm

What's this?

A Subaru, so expect it to be different. The only other firm to offer such a combination as four-wheel drive and a turbocharged petrol boxer engine is Porsche, in its 911 Turbo. The emphasis in the Levorg isn't on performance though, even if the Japanese company remains associated with its glorious rallying past, instead the firm is taking a more pragmatic, safety-orientated stance. So the Levorg is an estate, which Subaru's people admit looks back to the success of the fourth series Legacy - the bigger fifth generation Legacy was not as loved by Subaru die-hards, as they consider it too big.

In the Levorg Subaru has managed the neat trick of packing the Legacy's space into a smaller overall footprint, so the packaging is neat, with plenty of passenger and luggage space. Access is good too, with wide opening doors at the back. The interior is a leap forward for Subaru, with soft-touch materials mixing with the firm's usual robust build quality, only the odd hard, cheap feeling plastic betraying Subaru's interiors of old. Connectivity is great too, with the central touch-screen infotainment system easy to operate and the Levorg, depending on specification, can have as many as six, yes six, USB sockets to charge up all your tech.

How does it drive?

Subaru's symmetric four-wheel drive was once lauded as a means of enhancing performance, but the firm now pushes it as a safety aid. There's much talk about stability, grip and agility, Subaru benchmarking this practical wagon against its BRZ coupé and cars like the Audi S3. Not natural opponents then, Subaru instead considering the Levorg as more of a rival for cars like Volvo's V60 and the Mazda6 Tourer in real terms. That's a push, as neither offer the technical make up of the Subaru. Indeed, four-wheel drive estates are a relative rarity in the mainstream segment; there's the odd model, but they're usually range-topping performance variants, or mated to a diesel engine. The Levorg is neither, even if in GT-S specification you really will want for nothing off the options list, as the standard equipment list is very lengthy indeed.

There's grip and plenty of traction, even if our drive of the Levorg was brief and on a short test track. Body roll is notable in its absence, the Levorg's control impressive. It's a shame then that the steering doesn't offer a little bit more feedback to its obvious weight; as it is you're more likely to hear the tyres signalling they're giving up grip before you actually feel it. The balance is fine, though with one eye on safety it's impossible to switch off the stability control system. The torque split through the drivetrain is usually 60 per cent front and 40 per cent rear, though a 50/50 split is possible when it's required.

It's not a car you're likely to push that hard though. The chassis might have fine balance and good control, but the CVT automatic transmission is enough to rein in any enthusiasm you might have. It's stepped for Europe, it selecting those 'ratios' when you push more than 30- or 35 per cent of the accelerator's travel - depending on which of the driving modes you're in. Neither is particularly satisfactory, the CVT still noisy and slow to react, which is disappointing, as the engine is smooth and eager with decent power and torque. The crucial numbers, economy and emissions, aren't on its side though, meaning you'd really have to need the Levorg's four-wheel drive capability to justify the additional running costs it attracts.

Verdict

The new Levorg is a spacious, agile, good-looking and robust family car. Shame then that Subaru's engineering philosophy makes it a hard sell in a diesel, front-wheel drive dominated sector. The CVT transmission remains its biggest failing though, dominating what's otherwise an enjoyable drive. Its traditional audience will be a few, but it's impossible to imagine people getting out of their Mazdas and Volvos for the Levorg. A fringe player then, as always; we can't help but feel that with a standard manual gearbox - or decent conventional automatic - the Levorg would stand a better chance.

4 4 4 4 4 Exterior Design

3 3 3 3 3 Interior Ambience

5 5 5 5 5 Passenger Space

5 5 5 5 5 Luggage Space

4 4 4 4 4 Safety

3 3 3 3 3 Comfort

3 3 3 3 3 Driving Dynamics

3 3 3 3 3 Powertrain


Kyle Fortune - 2 Jul 2015



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2015 Subaru Levorg. Image by Subaru.2015 Subaru Levorg. Image by Subaru.2015 Subaru Levorg. Image by Subaru.2015 Subaru Levorg. Image by Subaru.2015 Subaru Levorg. Image by Subaru.



2015 Subaru Levorg. Image by Subaru.
 

2015 Subaru Levorg. Image by Subaru.
 

2015 Subaru Levorg. Image by Subaru.
 

2015 Subaru Levorg. Image by Subaru.
 

2015 Subaru Levorg. Image by Subaru.
 

2015 Subaru Levorg. Image by Subaru.
 

2015 Subaru Levorg. Image by Subaru.
 

2015 Subaru Levorg. Image by Subaru.
 






 

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