Designed to compete in the compact-crossover segment with vehicles like the Hyundai Tucson, Ford Escape and Honda CR-V, the XV is essentially a lifted Impreza. It sports more ground clearance (220 mm) and suspension travel, yet shares the Impreza’s powertrain options – a 2,0-litre boxer four with either a 5-speed manual transmission or a CVT.
European markets started seeing the new model in January, and we drove Euro-spec versions around Florence and Tuscany. With only 110 kW on tap and wearing snow tyres for December driving, the XV wasn’t thrilling despite the inspiring Mille Miglia mountain back roads, but it proved more than adequate for urban and freeway use.
The XV’s strength is its standard all-wheel drive. But it also shares virtues of the new Impreza: improved build quality, fit and finish, fuel economy and interior room. Those will serve it well in the lately hyper-competitive segment. – Kevin Wilson