In-depth reviews

Subaru XV hybrid engines, drive & performance

Composed on-road handling and good off-road ability steal a march on some rivals, but the XV e-Boxer's hybrid setup works better at low speeds than in faster driving

Subaru XV hybrid
Overall rating

3.0 out of 5

Engines, drive & performance rating

3.5 out of 5

Price
£30,140 - £32,140
Fuel Type:
Hybrid Petrol
0-62mphTop speedDriven wheelsPower
10.7s120mphFour148bhp

The Subaru XV e-Boxer uses the same 2.0-litre petrol engine as the regular version of the car, but combines it with a small electric motor and battery to improve fuel economy and boost performance on rough surfaces. The result is a maximum power output of 148bhp and 194Nm of torque, although the latter number alone doesn’t adequately highlight the low-rev benefits of electric assistance.

While fuel efficiency is nothing to write home about, low-speed performance is splendid: crawling through town is a doddle using the electric motor, and it’s easy to keep the engine idle with gentle use of the accelerator pedal. Subaru has also improved the throttle response – a common complaint when the XV first launched – by adjusting the torque. The hybrid e-Boxer’s peak figure is slightly lower than that of the petrol, but more of it is available at low speeds, making it feel nippier on urban roads.

And the hybrid powertrain works wonders for the XV’s off-road credentials: when selected, ‘X-Mode’ delivers even more low-down torque, giving more grunt on harsher surfaces. Meanwhile, the all-wheel-drive system can move power between the wheels to ensure steep hills can be tackled with a minimum of fuss, whether you’re going up or down. The XV e-Boxer felt very stable on our varied test route, which included a lean test that saw the crossover brush its maximum tipping angle of 30 degrees.

Subaru XV hybrid 0-62mph, top speed and acceleration

When you ask for heavy acceleration, the e-Boxer begins to struggle: 0-62mph takes an underwhelming 10.7 seconds, and the sudden burst of revs feels ineffective because of the lack of forward progress. This is common in hybrid cars equipped with a CVT transmission: there are no gears, but ‘steps’ are engineered in to make it feel like there are different ratios. Subaru quotes a top speed of 120mph.

Handling

On normal roads, the XV e-Boxer handles well, especially given its size and a setup geared for off-roading. Lean in corners is nicely controlled despite the hefty 220mm of ground clearance, and the steering feels well weighted and precise. The ride is surprisingly composed, too, soaking up heavy bumps on both tarmac and gravel.

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