Strengths and weaknesses:
- All-wheel drive
- Pleasant look
- Precise steering
- Manual transmission
- Noisy cabin
- Weak acceleration
The Impreza’s new groove
(Kahuku, Hawaii) – The waves crashes on the rocks, leaving behind the trace of their passage. The patient surfers await for the perfect wave to show up. And the kids, numerous, come and go restlessly in the warm sand. That enchanting view, on the island of Oahu in Hawaii, is the spot chosen by Subaru to give their latest SUV its first go, the XV Crosstrek.
The place might seem a bit « too much ». But for Subaru’s leaders, Hawaii represents exactly the intention behind a vehicle such as the XV Crosstrek: a stylish, charming vehicle that also adapts to a more active lifestyle. The very description of the hundreds of surfers gathered on the North shore of the island.
But contrarily to Hawaii that has a personality of its own, the Crosstrek has to borrow a few elements to its little sister, the Impreza. Because that is what the Crosstrek is: a (successful) adaptation of the small Impreza.
It’s all a matter of style
From the get go, the two vehicles share an impressive number of components. In fact, the whole frame is exactly the same for both vehicles as well as a few body elements such as the lateral and hatchback door. Technically speaking, the Crosstrek is different in its height (about 10 cm higher that the five-door Impreza) et by the addition of an adapted front bumper.
The wheel arches have also been modified, molded out of plastic and fitted with a set of exclusive and lovely wheels. That being said, the wheel base has remained the same and there have been no aesthetic modifications made whatsoever.
I don’t know if it has anything to do with its height or the look of its wheels, but in my opinion, the Crosstrek is much more of a looker than its five-door sister. The car loses its tamed “family car” look and trades it for a wilder one. The orange colour of my test vehicle probably has something to do with it.
As for the cabin…there’s nothing more to say. The setup is exactly the same as for the Impreza and offers no novelty except for the audio system with a GPS screen, available on the higher end versions. As for the rest, it’s all the same: cargo area, clearance for the passengers and seats comfort, everything is identic for both vehicles.
Which is not such a bad thing since the latest version of the Impreza has become a lot more interesting in many regards.
Even the mechanics are the same. The famous Subaru all-wheel drive system is of course involved here, one of the most efficient available on the market. It is teamed up with a 2.0 litres, 148hp engine with either a standard 5-speed manual transmission or a CVT with paddle shift.
Obviously, you will guess that nobody will faint from the intensity of this vehicle’s acceleration, but it does average a fuel economy of 8L/100km which is exceptional, considering the type of vehicle involved.
The Crosstrek will be available in three different versions with a diversified list of options but all three will have the same engine.
On the Hawaian roads, the Crosstrek has done very well. Of course, the engine takes its time when it comes to accelerating, but nothing terrible. I must also admit that though I don’t usually like CVTs, Subaru’s receives a good grade for theirs.
I can’t say the same about the manual transmission, ill fitted and so soft that it feels as though it’s been moulded out of rubber.
Another damper is the noise: as much as the CVT equipped vehicle’s cabin is silent and pleasant, the manual version is noisy and filled with tiny vibrations. Which isn’t all that bad considering it saved me from hearing more of the repeated stories of my co-pilot for the day. But in a family situation, it is bad enough to keep you from hearing the kids calling from the back.
On the other hand, the electric power steering proves to be efficient and precise.
To the land of dinosaurs
Because there is a desire to introduce it as an SUV, the Crosstrek benefits of a higher ground clearance than the Grand Cherokee. And it’s on the former set of Jurassic Park (and of a few dozen other movies, including Godzilla) that we got to test its off-road capacities.
Of course, we’re not talking of extreme off-roads conditions, but more of the type of “country house” bumpier than ordinary roads. Both in water and rougher grounds, the Crosstrek proves to be up for the challenge.
The XV Crosstrek (XV is the Japanese name, Crosstrek should be the American one)is surprising. It’s resemblance to the Impreza is undeniable and predictable.
But where the Impreza had style and versatility weaknesses, the few settings offered by the new Crosstrek (the suspensions, for instance) correct them. And the longer list of available equipment should attract and satisfy a more demanding type of customer.
For instance, my Darling loved her previous generation Impreza and just can’t get used to the new one. The XV Crosstrek could be the perfect vehicle to make her fall in love all over again. There is only left to see what the pricing will be in Canada. Further details will be made available upon its arrival in August.