Subaru’s sporting estate gets new technology for 2017. We took it for a week and put it through its paces to see what’s what
What do we have here?
For more years than Subaru would like to admit, they had a gem of a car on its hands that it never really launched into the consciousness of mainstream buyers who were after an upmarket load lugger.
That was the Legacy, a deeply talented and likeable estate (also offered as a saloon) that for whatever reason never lit up the sales charts, well here in the UK at least.
So, enter from stage left its replacement, the Levorg. First signs are promising. It has kerb side appeal with its bold, striking and sporty looks, perfectly judged without going over the top.
WATCH OUR ROAD TEST HERE
You’d do well to see a Levorg and not take a second glance, especially in the
Lapis Blue Pearl finish of our test car. With a strong nose, swept-back ‘hawk-eye’ headlights and that gaping bonnet scoop.
Down the flank, the smoked windows taper neatly towards the rear, the wheel arches are filled by muscular 18in alloy wheels and there’s a deep side skirt.
Round at the back, there are split twin tailpipes, a deep bumper with an integrated diffuser, attractive taillights and a spoiler arching over the rear window.
New for 2017 is the Eyesight driving aids including adaptive cruise control, pre-collision braking, land departure and sway warning, and pre-collision throttle management.
It’s offered in just one guise. GT trim level with a 1.6-litre Boxer petrol engine connected to a six-speed automatic gearbox and with all four wheels driven at the same time, costing £29,995.
How does it drive?
So far so good then, the Levorg sounds like it’s a winner. However, this is where things either start to unravel or you begin reaching for the chequebook, or at least for those PCP forms.
Drive the pants off the Levorg and it is absolutely epic. There’s a moment of pitch as you turn into a sharper corner, which can be eliminated by a pre-emptive down-shift or dab on the brakes before you enter the bend, leaving the body to corner flat and true.
That symmetrical four-wheel system is faultless as the torque-vectoring system tugs you tightly into the apex of the corner and, if it had the power to do so, it would catapult you out of the bend and into the middle of next week, but we’ll come on to that.
Torque split sends torque between the front and rear axle to where it’s needed most for best traction, with up to 60% being able to be sent to the front.
There’s a solid feeling to the steering, proving to be accurate and direct when pushing on hard. It’s neither too heavy nor too light but the odd inconsistence can creep in.
So, drive it like you stole it and the Levorg’s brilliant. What about the rest of the time then? This is where things start to unravel. If you’re not hooning around then the Levorg does lean into a bend, not horrifically but it’s certainly noticeable.
Not being particularly mathematically minded, lean must equal comfy ride, right? No. Not at all. In Antigua, there’s a well-known saying that if you’re driving straight at night then you’re probably drunk and unaware at the Fiesta swallowing potholes that you’re crashing through.
In the Levorg, it’s the same thing but rather than Fiesta swallowing, it changes to micro-machine submerging, leaving you to zigzag down the road seeking out the smoothest line.
Ok, you got it, the ride’s firm. The problem is that it's unrelenting and fidgety, never truly giving you a moment's peace. You get used to it but you really shouldn’t have to.
That 1.6-litre is turbocharged and being fed fresh air by the huge bonnet scoop, develops 168bhp and 184lb ft of torque. Hardly figures that leave you salivating at the prospect of firing up this bad boy to exploit that epic handling and tenacious grip. That bears out with the dash to 62mph taking 8.9 seconds.
There’s no exciting soundtrack to accompany the process, nor much of a power surge to excite the senses. The Lineartronic gearbox helps everything feel a little lacklustre while making an asthmatic wheezing noise.
Steering wheel mounted paddles change gears quickly however there’s a surge of power as you do so, which if you’re not pushing on can be quite disconcerting.
On the steering wheel, you’ll find controls for the SI-drive. Essentially two setting for the engine mapping. Standard and sport. Sport makes the throttle and gearbox response more eagerly.
The technology works well. Ahead of the steering binnacle are five lights set into the top of the dash where it meets the windscreen. These happily flash away when a hazard has been detected, although, sometimes it feels a little bit like an overprotective Mum when you’re on the swings with the bigger boys.
What is good is the adaptive cruise control that has decent settings for how far you’d like to sit behind the car ahead (still too far back to prevent every Tom, Dick and Harry from nipping into the space you’ve left). It works well in slow moving traffic and will take you to a stop.
From there you’ll need to set off yourself, however, the car will advise when the traffic ahead has pulled off, in case you’re not paying attention. Thanks, Mum.
What's it like inside?
There are some lovely touches inside, particularly the leather with blue contrasting stitching about the cabin plus black gloss and chrome details. However, the mid-2000’s effect trim on the door and the tiny seat heater buttons between the front seats does take some shine off.
Overall, there’s little to excite, it’s neat and tidy and generally well designed, although, the stainless-steel rotary ventilation controllers are a nice touch.
However, the split dash may irk some. The top part which sits on top of the dashboard and displays some trip computer information, details on the all-wheel drive wheel input and some sportiness. It’s then controlled in two ways, one from buttons on the steering wheel and second by a rocker switch high up on the fascia between the air vents, which seems unnecessary and makes it fiddly to use.
The 7.0in infotainment touchscreen comes with sat-nav and Bluetooth. The system is decent, fast enough and clear to read. It also incorporates the display for the reversing camera.
The driver’s seat is electrically operated and has excellent adjustment for height and backrest while the flat-bottomed steering wheel offers a decent range of reach and tilt. There’s plenty of room to get comfortable.
There’s a deep central storage compartment underneath the armrest which contains two USB ports, while the door bins are well-sized and will take a bottle and more.
In the back, leg and knee room is good while head room is ok. The seats are comfortable and the back rest adjusts so you can lie back and relax. The transmission tunnel isn’t too large meaning three can sit across in relative comfort.
The doors have small door bins large enough for a bottle of water and there are two USB connectors between the front seats and a dropdown arm rest with two cupholders.
The boot is one of the largest in its class offering 522-litres of capacity. It’s well-shaped with a large clean opening and a flat floor. There’s a compartment on either side and two huge underfloor storage bins.
From here, you can lower the 60/40 split rear seats with an electronic release.
Annoyingly the load cover is in two parts. A retractable section covers the first part of the boot and is fine. The second part is a ‘fix-in-place’ covering the rear part of the boot. It wedges against either side of the boot to hold its position and can be easily knocked out of place, when adjusting the tilt of the backseats. It’s fiddly to reinstate.
Despite the downsized turbocharged engine, Subaru claims that it’ll only return 39.8mpg on an official combined cycle. We took the Levorg to Amsterdam and back and managed an average of 32mpg over some 700 miles.
It’ll emit 164g/km of CO2 which isn’t brilliant news for company car users as it falls into the 31% BIK tax banding while road tax costs £500 for the first year.
It falls into insurance group 20E.
Subaru offers and excellent five-year 100,000-mile warranty.
The Levorg is painfully close to being a terrific sporting estate with all-weather traction.
Despite its great looks, huge boot, and on the limit handling, it can’t detract from an overly firm and fussy ride.
However, if you’re after a big estate, with all-wheel drive with a petrol engine then at this price little else will touch the Levorg.
A tweak here and there and Subaru could have a real winner here.