Subaru Levorg

 

   Sightings of Subarus out in here in the sticks are pretty regular. The farming fraternity, the horsey types, and the catch it, kill it and (not necessarily always) eat it brigade seem to love them, drawn in perhaps by the Japanese manufacturer’s enviable reputation for reliability, near legendary ruggedness, and of course the all-important four wheel-drive. An aged Subaru Legacy, Forester, Outback or even an Impreza in these parts; usually mud-spattered, with a tow bar, and more often than not with a spaniel or three in the back, is de-rigueur  But then Subaru always have had very faithful following.

     Come trade-in time those ruddy-cheeked types might find themselves somewhat disappointed though. You see, the Subaru Legacy is no more. Its replacement is this, the Levorg, which, despite being available in Japan since 2014, has only been available here in the UK since last autumn.

    Picking your Levorg is easy as there’s only one spec, there’s only one engine, and there’s only one transmission. Powered by a 1.6 litre, 168bhp flat-four, turbocharged “boxer” engine, which Subaru say, is on-par both power-wise and torque-wise with their normally aspirated 2.5 litre engine, the Levorg offers modest rather than mind-blowing performance. 167bhp, 184lbft of torque and 0-62 in 8.9 seconds mean any thoughts of tackling a special stage or two in this particular Scooby are quickly quashed. Oh, and it’s automatic too.

    Well, I say automatic. It’s actually a CVT (that’s constant velocity transmission), they’re very popular in Japan and the U.S apparently.  The on paper advantages of a CVT are there for all to see; it’s designed to vary torque seamlessly as it doesn’t actually swap gears, and it allows you to alter your speed while it maintains optimal engine revs for power and efficiency. But, you don’t drive on paper, and if I’m honest I can’t quite see the attraction. Because the revs don’t rise as you accelerate in the same way as they would in a dual-clutch auto, or indeed a manual, the engine note stays constant, and you simply don’t feel involved in what’s going on. It’s smooth, and it’s strangely quiet too, but that famous Subaru boxer engine beat, the thing that really made a Subaru a Subaru, is sadly missing. 39.8 Mpg is hardly the stuff to write home about these days either.

     Things inside the Levorg are however altogether more familiar. There’s space and headroom in abundance, the boot is a good size, the rear seats fold flat at the touch of button and there’s no loading-lip, so the Spaniel won’t grumble every time she or he jumps in or out. The seats are comfy, the driving positon is infinitely adjustable, there’s keyless entry and start, etc etc. There’s even leather trim (or what looks like it).  In fact there’s been a huge step-up in the quality of all the fixtures and fittings. Everything’s very much rattle free and feels as if it will remain so.  The Levorg even comes with a 7” touchscreen sat-nav / DAB unit that links to your phone via a Bluetooth and displays your apps.

    Sadly though some of that sense of familiarity comes from the inescapable fact that the Levorgs’s interiors looks dated. Carbon-Fibre look plastic trim and trip –computers atop the dashboard make it feel all bit last century, all a bit, well,  1990’s. The steering feedback is a tad video game-ish too.

    That’s not so say the Levorg is bad to drive though: It’s actually based on an Impreza chassis. Yes it suffers from some wind-noise on the motorway, but on a country road its taught suspension and naturally grippy nature means it can punted along with accuracy; cross-country it’s a surprisingly swift ally.

   It’s clear then that Subaru spend their money on the oily bits rather than soft-furnishings. And it’s that, that for some, will lend to the Levorg’s appeal. Others however may well be put off. The Subaru faithful will love the Levorg. Those not quite so devoted may find that for £28,000 pounds these days, other manufacturers do this whole 4x4 out-doorsy country estate thing with more finesse.

  

Subaru Levorg 1.6 DIT Lineartronic

Engine: 1,600cc, horizontally opposed flat 4 16V turbo-charged DOHC petrol

Transmission: Six-speed Lineartronic CVT with torque converter. Symmetrical 4WD.

Power:  168 bhp @ 4,800-5,600 rpm

Torque: 184 lbft @ 1,800-4,800 rpm

0-62MPH: 8.9 Sec

Max Speed: 130 mph

CO2: 164 g/km

MPG: 39.8 combined

Price: From £27,495

 

Many thanks to Subaru’s UK press office for the loan of their Levorg

www.liam-bird.com

@bird_liam

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Liam Bird Liam Bird

I'm Liam Bird, a freelance Motoring Writer based in the South Shropshire Marches. I currently write car reviews and road tests for a number of regional lifestyle magazines and newspapers which are distributed throughout Cheshire, Herefordshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Worcestershire, most of Wales and beyond.

As a member of the Welsh Group of Motoring Writers I'm as happy behind the wheel of a super-mini as I am in the latest super-car. I have press accreditation with most of the major motor manufacturers, meaning that as well as always being on the look out for further commissions, I always have a number of cars arriving each month ready to review.

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