Friday, 1 July 2016

REVIEW – Subaru Levorg GT

Unbeknown to a significant majority of the public, Subaru have been updating their model line-up. Their latest car is called the Levorg. This, apparently, is a combination of the words “Legacy”, “revolution” and “touring”. For the UK, this is the replacement for the Legacy, and shares a platform with the WRX STi. So the DNA is there, but would the Levorg live up to its heritage? It’s certainly not an obvious choice in the estate car market, but that’s not to say it isn’t a good one. I grabbed one for a week to see for myself.

Looks – 8/10

If you were ever in doubt that the Levorg is based on the WRX STi platform, then a cursory glance at it would soon change your mind. The front end shares many of the same lines, and that’s no bad thing. For a family estate car, it has an extremely aggressive stance. There are flashes of chrome trim, and that signature bonnet scoop. I wish there were some bold LED daytime-running lights built into the headlight, as their shape is crying out for some. At the side you get two-tone, 18-inch alloy wheels, and some broad rear arches. At the back, twin exhausts and a spoiler complete a sleek design with sporty elements. A rather intriguing package indeed.

Inside, Subaru has been hard at work improving the look and feel of the cabin. And it’s worked. The lashings of leather are accented with blue stitching, from the steering wheel to the centre console, gear knob and door cards. It’s actually a rather premium-looking theme, and helps to break up what would otherwise be a dark cabin. The dials, media screen and information screen all have a clue and white colour scheme, although the latter does still look a little primitive. You do get a chunky steering wheel complete with eleventy-hundred buttons on it, but some of the other switchgear is a little cheap; most notably the heated seat controls.

Handling/Performance – 6/10

The Levorg gets an all-new engine, and the headline stats are as follows: it’s a 1.6-litre, direct-injection turbocharged boxer engine with 170PS and 250Nm of torque. This is sent to a classic Subaru symmetrical AWD system via a CVT gearbox. And therein lies the weak link. CVT gearboxes are just not involving or engaging for a driver. Yes, it will go from 0-62mph in 8.9 seconds and on to a top speed of 130mph. At motorway cruising speeds it works well; keeping the revs extremely low. But when you want to drive a bit more enthusiastically is just makes a lot of noise and over-revs. Even switching to the manual paddleshift mode didn’t help. In normal driving the engine is smooth, and there is that familiar boxer burble; albeit a little more muted than its ASBO sibling.


Because of the capable AWD system and relatively low power output, the Levorg never seems to run out of grip. It doesn’t ever spin a wheel, whatever the weather, and gives the impression that it wants more power to deal with. The steering is nicely weighted and the turn-in is good. For a sizeable estate car it corners well, and the suspension copes well with most road surfaces. The issue with the Levorg comes between the corners, with the car feeling a little underpowered, and not helped by the gearbox being too busy picking a ratio to properly get the power down. The Levorg does however come into its own on the motorway, where it is quiet, comfortable and rather pleasant to drive.

Economy – 7/10

On one hand, the new 1.6-litre DIT engine is more economical than previous Subaru petrol engines. Combined fuel consumption is 39.8mpg and the Levorg emits 164g/km of CO2. That leaves the car in VED band G. Road tax is £185 in the first and subsequent years. The Levorg gets start/stop technology to help save fuel in traffic and reduce CO2 emissions. But there’s an underlying feeling that Subaru would have done better simply to fit one of their diesel engines in the car, especially given how well it cruises on the motorway.

Practicality – 8/10

The Subaru is a very nice car to live with. The rear legroom is particularly plentiful, and even tall drivers will find a driving position that suits them, thanks to the various adjustment of the seat and steering wheel. The Levorg comes equipped for the modern generation; with USB ports both front and rear to charge and connect devices. Other standard equipment includes a reversing camera, satellite navigation, dual-zone air conditioning, keyless entry and go, power adjustable driver’s seat and auto lights/wipers. The boot is spacious, and there is a hidden storage compartment owing to the absence of a spare wheel.

Fun – 6/10

I was impressed with the appearance of the Levorg. It looks good, whether it be in a car park or the reflection of a shop window. People glance to double check what it is, as they won’t have se
en many on the roads. I like the standard kit list, as there is more than enough to keep you entertained behind the wheel. What lets the Levorg down is the driving experience. With a lack of real power, and the CVT gearbox, there lacks a sense of driver involvement. Whilst the AWD system is capable it just doesn’t put a smile on your face, and I think that’s a shame. The car has great potential, but just falls short on being a driver’s car. Disappointing considering it has WRX STi DNA in its bones.

Concluding Remarks

The new boy in town will turn a few heads, but unfortunately it looks a lot sportier than it drives. By developing a new petrol engine, Subaru have put the Levorg in a strange market position. It’s not particularly fast, and the petrol engine is not as economical as a diesel would be. The Levorg costs £27,495, and given the level of equipment that’s rather good value. You get a 5-year warranty, and the assurance from Subaru’s reputation for building rugged, reliable cars. For more information visit a dealer or head to the Subaru website. The Subaru Levorg GT is not an obvious choice in the estate car market, but it’s sleek, well-equipped, and has proper Subaru blood running through it.

Total Score – 35/50

1 comment:

  1. I like sporty Subarus and I like the practicality of an estate car. This could really tempt me. But it's not quite powerful enough and it's lumbered with the awful Lineartronic gearbox that Subaru seem so keen to inflict on UK buyers. Sadly, the 2.0 litre version is not UK available, at least not yet, as this engine, paired with either a manual box or even a decent auto box, would make a tempting purchase.
    Subaru UK must be the world's most frustrating company. Here's a company that is good at estate cars, good at sports cars and good at 'proper' 4WD, yet refuses to put them altogether in one package. Audi have done very well with fast AWD estate cars. Subaru could probably do just as well if not better; they have everything required in their parts bin, yet they they refuse to do so. The UK importers seem to not want to have anything to do with anything that isn't dull and not much fun to drive (WRX STI excepted). Dan, if you have any influence with Subaru UK, try to encourage them to at least import the 2.0ltr Levorg and the standard WRX, I think they would both find buyers in the UK who want an alternative to the usual German choices but want something that's enjoyable behind the wheel.

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