13 November 2015
Subaru Levorg

Subaru Levorg

Smaller is better

Review | The Subaru Legacy was a good and therefore a successful car. But when Subaru was about to design the new, sixth generation it faced a problem. The American market demanded a bigger, mightier model; the Japanese market asked for a smaller, sportier model. The only solution was to develop two new cars, the smaller of which comes to Europe: the Levorg.
 

Most test cars are brand new. Often the test cars haven't even arrived at the dealers yet and therefore they do draw some attention. The test drive with the Levorg took place in Japan, and there the car didn't stand out at all. That's because the Levorg has been on sale in Japan for over a year now! Based on the experiences from the first year, the Levorg has been tweaked and now the car is ready for Europe.

More good news: Subaru developed the Levorg alongside the new WRX, Subaru's famous sports car. Because the Levorg was supposed to have a sporty character, Subaru used the concepts and technologies from the WRX.

Subaru Levorg

Do mind the choice of words: the Levorg isn't an estate version of the WRX and the Levorg certainly isn't a sports car. The Levorg is merely an estate car with a sporty disposition. That's why the Levorg is smaller than the Legacy (9 cm shorter, 5 cm lower, same width).

Spec levels

As usual with Subaru the design isn't expressive or outspoken, but the Levorg is far from ugly.

Subaru Levorg

The cabin is also typical Subaru: technology takes centre stage. Subaru opted for high-tech materials (or a convincing copy of them), interesting looking displays (sometimes useful, sometimes just fun), an impressive number of knobs and buttons, together with comfortable leather. Stitchings in a contrasting colour finish the high-tech yet sporty atmosphere in the cabin.

Considering the size of the car, cabin space is decent. Even with the optional panoramic sunroof, headroom in the front is ample. The front seats are comfortable and rather big for a car like this. However, height adjustment leaves something to be desired (lower please!). The steering wheel has a flat bottom ("D-shape"), which again adds to the sporty feeling.

A Subaru is a rational choice. A Subaru is technically more advanced than just any car and most of this technology benefits safety. The Japanese version of the Levorg is available with a stereo camera that can see depth. This "EyeSight" camera can therefore judge distances between cars, warn the driver or even intervene when necessary. Regrettably, in Europe the "EyeSight" camera is only available on the Outback. However, if demand is strong enough Subaru might consider offering this function on the European Levorg as well.

Subaru Levorg

Handling

The most important safety feature of any Subaru is "All Wheel Drive" (AWD), also known as four-wheel drive. This isn't meant to turn the Levorg into an off-roader, but rather to guarantee optimum grip under all circumstances. Next to that, AWD can variably distribute the torque of the engine over all four wheels in a corner, which improves handling.

Subaru Levorg

The underpinning is rather firm, which is a big difference with the Legacy. The light yet sensitive steering almost invites the driver to corner quickly. The Levorg isn't an exciting car, yet when speed is increased the car is pretty rewarding to drive because of the lively and eager handling.

Engine

As stated before, the American market demanded bigger engines while the Japanese market requested smaller engines. Europe benefits from this because especially for the Levorg, Subaru developed an all-new 1.6 litre turbo engine (the Legacy always came with bigger engines). Despite the modest displacement, the 1.6 litre engine is stronger than the old atmospheric 2.0 litre engine.

Subaru Levorg

Traditionally, Subaru chose "boxer" technology because it has a simpler layout and a lower centre of gravity than a traditional engine. And... even the compact Subaru engine produces that typical boxer noise and it sounds wonderful! Most driving noises come from the tyres; in most cases the engine and wind are inaudible.

The 170 PS / 250 Nm the engine produces is transferred to all four wheels via a CVT (Continues Variable Transmission) gearbox. An advantage of a CVT automatic gearbox is that it doesn't choose from a fixed number of gear ratios, instead it can variably "create" the ideal ratio for each occasion. Well known disadvantages of a CVT, like a whining noise or an indirect throttle response, do not affect the Levorg. When the pedal is pushed to the metal the Levorg is lively and sporty, just like Subaru promises.

Subaru Levorg

Conclusion

Levorg is short for LEgacy reVOlution touRinG. This name indicates that the Levorg isn't a direct successor to the Legacy, but it certainly is a relative. Compared with the Legacy (and many competitors) the Levorg feels more dynamic and agile. When driving calmly, the car is comfortable; when driving in a sporty manner, the car is lively.

At the same time the Levorg is a true Subaru with excellent handling, optimum grip thanks to all-wheel drive, reliable technology and lots of electronics to make everyday life with the car easier and saver.

After a thorough test drive the only conclusion is that Subaru made the right decision. While America gets a new and even larger Legacy, the elegant and sporty Levorg comes to Europe. In this way Subaru distinguishes itself even better from its rivals while appealing more to the European taste; because smaller is better.

plus
  • Lively and dynamic
  • Pure Subaru-feeling
  • Lots of (active) safety
min
  • Quiet, but could be more quiet
  • Not the most frugal car in the segment
  • Safety features sometimes a bit annoying