Published on September 2nd, 2016 | by Subhash Nair0
Subaru Levorg Review: Like No Other
Without a doubt the Subaru Levorg is an extremely special car.
But besides being a wagon, what else could the company have done to distinguish it? After all, Subaru fits all their cars with symmetrical all-wheel drive and boxer engines. And with a family resemblance THIS strong, how on earth did Fuji Heavy Industries manage to build one of the most interesting vehicles on sale today?
It all starts with some solid fundamentals. As we mentioned before, that brilliant all-wheel drive drivetrain returns once again, but there’s something more. The Levorg shares many suspension and chassis components with the WRX – an extremely well-sorted sedan in its own right. But now with a wider wheelbase and loads of tweaks to the ride and handling characteristics, the Levorg is better equipped to complete Subaru’s transformation as a serious Japanese contender.
And what better motor to drive this transformation than a boxer. It’s a new one too – downsized and turbocharged to deliver a delightful 170hp and 250Nm of torque). This new flat four, designated the FB16, is the company’s most modern motor yet. With a twin-scroll turbocharger, direct injection and double overhead cams, the FB16 is equipped to deliver exceptional fuel consumption without compromising on raw power. Displacing a deceptively small 1600 cubic centimetres, this unit puts out the same amount of power and torque as your typical 2.5-litre, but thanks to the turbocharger, most of that power is available much earlier.
Paired to one of the most well-tuned CVTs on the market, Subaru’s ‘Lineartronic’, the Levorg is an absolute delight to drive at speed. Of course, we would have preferred a conventional slushbox, but fuel consumption is a lot lower with this gearbox, so we understand why Fuji Heavy Industries went down this path.
Typical of Subaru, the Levorg handles itself very well. It does nothing but grip at just about any speed you dare push it to. It ends up feeling more planted than many Japanese D-segment cars, despite the fact that it’s a little smaller than most.
One aspect that did bother us was how it handled bumps at lower speeds – there seemed to be a little stiffness to the rear double-wishbone suspension when we went over speed bumps and potholes. For a car that derives the ‘rg’ part of its name from ‘touRinG’, we expected it to be a little easier on passengers, but the most comfortable place to be is definitely in the front, especially when you consider just how ergonomic those seats are.
It’s probably time we explain where the rest of the ‘Levorg’ name comes from. Well, the ‘LE’ comes from ‘LEgacy’, the model earlier Impreza-based wagon that this replaces. The ‘VO’ bit on the other hand comes from ‘reVOlution’. And yes, despite the mild similarities to other products in the current Subaru line-up, the Levorg does feel like the company’s game-changer.
Naming such an important car after a silly sounding portmanteau wouldn’t make sense for any other company, but Subaru isn’t like any other company. They’ve been known to do things their own way, and it really shows everywhere you look here.
Take the chunky, flat-bottomed steering wheel. We really appreciate the heavier, reasonably communicative steering, but Subaru have attached 22 buttons (including the paddle shifters) on it. It’s a bit much and takes a bit of getting used to, but because button placement was so well spaced, we never pressed a button on accident.
And there’s more the closer you look. The upholstery, for instance, is garnished with blue stitching. It wouldn’t make sense on any other car but as most of the interior buttons and displays are backlit in the same hue, it does here. We’re happy to report that the Levorg’s interior is extremely well built. It feels like it could easily last 2 to 3 decades. But some trim pieces are a little strange. Subaru could have easily gone for something simpler, or focus more on material matching for a more premium feel to match the interior’s build quality.
But these are minor qualms, and if you’re already taken by the car’s looks, it’s easy to accept the peculiar interior design choices. The only real complaint here is the lack of a rear air cond blower. It’s not a deal breaker, but it certainly would help in this climate.
Largely though, the Levorg is a very practical machine, capable of bringing the entire family through any terrain with no compromise on the luggage front. With 6 USB ports on hand (2 of which are located in the rear), all five occupants will be able to charge their devices, plus there’ll be room for a memory stick full of roadtrip tunes too. And for the cost-conscious, a little graphic appears to show how economical your trip was compared to the last when you turn the engine off.
If you love heading to Ikea every few months, simply fold the rear row flat and you’ll find yourself with an extremely accommodating 1446-litres. Practicality is where all wagons excel, and with the Levorg, this is taken very seriously. A hidden cargo bin resides below the trunk floor and a flat boot lip allows heavy goods to be slid in easily without being caught on any protrusions.
The pricing is a little steep though. As rare as Japanese wagons are, there are better value propositions to the Levorg for RM188,000. Well, just one to be clear – the Mazda 6 Grand Touring. The Mazda is a whole segment larger, and it’s priced a little lower in comparison. However, it is also slightly older and you miss out on the smooth-running boxer, its lower centre of gravity, an all-wheel drive system and the immediacy of torque found in the Levorg. Plus, the annual road tax rate on the Subaru’s 1.6-litre is a mere RM90 – compared to the colossal RM880 you need to pay every year to run a 2.5-litre SKYACTIV-G engine.
The factors more or less balance out, so the decision between the two is down to your tastes and priorities. But make no mistake, the Levorg is more than a bunch of boxed to tick – and to many manufacturers, cars these days certainly fell that way. With the Levorg, we get the feeling that Subaru made a car that they wholeheartedly wanted to make. It’s a bit wacky, yet it has a professional image. It’s smaller than the cars it competes against, but it feels better than most of those cars at speed.
And just look at it. How many modern cars are brave enough to sport a hood scoop? How many manufacturers start a revolution with a WAGON? It’s manages to blend a sense of executive and sporty in a way few car makers know how. It reminds of a time where cars had real character and real purpose. No, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, but it’s positively attractive for being so self confident.
Subaru Levorg GT-S Specifications
Engine: Boxer 4-cylinder turbo
Gearbox: Lineartronic CVT, AWD
Max power: 170PS @ 4800-5600rpm
Max torque: 250Nm @ 1800-4800rpm
Nett Selling Price: RM188,000.00 (excl GST)