Subaru's Levorg is an unusual but stylish sporty 4WD executive estate. June Neary tries one.
Will It Suit Me?
I don't think I'd even see a Subaru Levorg before I tried one last week for this column. The model in question is certainly a rare choice, a spacious 4WD estate that offers a dynamic look and feel along with strong performance, plush comfort and usable practicality. It targets a narrow group of customers who'll probably already be fans of the brand but it's certainly good enough to reach a wider audience.
This Subaru works for me in the driveway. The Levorg looks suitably dynamic with its piercing 'hawk-eye' LED headlamps, chrome-framed hexagonal grille and deep front bonnet scoop. Viewed from straight on, it's a menacing thing, no question. Get one of these in your rear view mirror and you'd be quick to move over. Which makes this sporting estate. well what exactly? A WRX STi hot hatch for the family buyer? Perhaps it would be with the pokier powerplants the brand offers in other markets. As it is, sportiness here must be mixed with sensibility, though still in a way that gives this car far more streetside presence than any of its rivals can muster. Take a seat up front and you'll find yourself in the smartest and most sophisticated cabin the brand has yet created thanks to a dashboard built around a tall fascia which cascades down towards the piano black-trimmed central console. Further down that console sits arguably the cabin's smartest feature, a 7.0-inch colour touchscreen that adds to the up-market feel and is the portal from which you access the six-speaker stereo and the usual 'phone and informational features, as well as the standard satellite navigation set-up. It also comes complete with Subaru's latest 'STARLINK' infotainment technology. Take a seat at the rear and you'll find space to be adequate by class standards, with legroom aided by the way that the front seatbacks have been curved for greater kneeroom. And out back? Well the idea with this car was to provide the luggage space of Subaru's Outback model, yet deliver that with more compact sporty looks. It's an objective that's been achieved, the rear tailgate rising to reveal a 522-litre space, accessed via a usable rectangular opening and a low loading lip.
Behind the Wheel
The Levorg package is based around a 1.6-litre turbo petrol powerplant mated to Lineartronic automatic transmission and Subaru's trademark Symmetrical AWD system. Like all Subaru's engines, this modern Euro6 unit uses a distinctive Boxer configuration, a package that's been refined for this car to the point where on the move, you'd hardly notice its uniqueness. That does though, make this car exceptionally quiet - a great long distance companion. Twistier roads could be handled better if there were more feel from the steering but once you adjust, there's prodigious grip thanks not only to 4WD but also to Active Torque Vectoring, which improves corner turn-in. There's also a 'Subaru Intelligent Drive' system - 'SI-Drive' for short - that, depending on the way you want to drive, alters engine, gearbox and throttle response. Set it in 'Sport' mode and 62mph from rest takes 8.9s en route to 130mph.
Value For Money
As previously mentioned, this car will be a rare sight on our roads, for two main reasons. First, there's the fact that it's being imported in very limited numbers. And second, because unlike Subaru's other estate models, it's not being offered with the diesel engine option that most buyers in the family estate segment want. The single specification may also be another limiting factor: the sole 1.6-litre DIT Boxer engine on offer has to be paired to Subaru's Lineartronic automatic transmission and there's only one spec available, a plush GT trim level which carries a £27,500 pricetag. It's certainly very well equipped. Standard kit includes metallic paint, privacy glass, automatically-activating LED headlamps, rain-sensing wipers, front foglights, power-folding heated mirrors, a rear roof spoiler and a Thatcham Category 1 alarm. There are also smart 18-inch dark grey alloy wheels, finished as standard in dark grey but also optionally available in 'Crystal White Pearl', 'Lapis Blue Pearl' or 'Steel Blue' metallic finishes. Move inside using the keyless access feature and you'll find a push-button start system, while other interior features run to bespoke heated leather front sports seats with eight-way electrical adjustment, dual-zone air conditioning, a rear parking camera, an auto-dimming rear view mirror, aluminium pedals, no fewer that four USB ports and a 7.0-inch touchscreen stereo, infotainment and navigation system complete with Subaru's STARLINK connectivity. This is operable via voice control, while full Bluetooth functionality enables users to connect their smartphone to the car for weather and traffic reports, wireless audio and news updates.
Could I Live With One?
Subaru is well aware that this Levorg will be a minority choice in its sector but knows that for a select few loyal customers, it will hit the mark precisely. These people will get a charismatic, spacious sports estate with strong performance, high levels of standard equipment, good residuals and the best 4WD system in the business. In other words, a car of many talents. True, it won't appeal to those prioritising badge equity or running cost efficiency, but it's well priced, practical, engaging to drive and great to look at. And, for what it's worth, your neighbour's unlikely to have one. Overall then, a rare but really rather appealing choice in the medium estate segment. If you like your driving, are happy with petrol power, need AWD at a relatively affordable price and don't want an SUV - or an estate car trying to look like an SUV - it may be just up your street.