Subaru XV: Safest Family Car in Europe

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After a pre-launch test drive at the end of last year, I commented that the latest Subaru XV was “probably the safest car in the world” and soon after, Euro NCAP announced that in fact, this all-new model from Japan is in fact, the safety family car in its class.

In an announcement that will reshape the public’s perception of the iconic Subaru Brand, the all-new Subaru XV has been named the safest in its class of Small Family Cars, earning Euro NCAP’s ‘Best In Class’ title (with Impreza coming in second).

Subaru XV achieved best scores in its small family car class for three of the four assessment areas – Adult Occupant, Child Occupant and Pedestrian Protection – combined with an outstanding performance of the Autonomous Emergency Braking and Lane Support Systems in the Safety Assist area.

This latest XV is the second model to feature the new Subaru Global Platform, designed to deliver higher levels of safety performance, driving enjoyment and ride comfort.

Front of Subaru XV

Technical briefing at XV launch

This platform brings significant enhancement to the body and chassis rigidity (front lateral flexural rigidity +90%, torsional rigidity +70%, front suspension rigidity +70%, rear sub frame rigidity +100%) and impact energy absorption is improved by 40% over present models.

Subaru’s EyeSight Driver Assist technology, which is fitted as standard on the new XV, scored highly in the Autonomous Emergency Braking section at Euro NCAP testing, with both cars and pedestrians.

EyeSight is a pair of digital cameras that monitor the traffic movement to warn the driver of a threat ahead and to apply pre-collision braking in emergency situations, in order to avoid or at least to mitigate the collision.

Subaru EyeSight also ensures the lateral support functions, warning the driver of unintentional lane departure and assisting the driver in keeping the travelling lane.

A survey last year, by Subaru Europe of over 900 Outback model owners, found a 60%+ reduction in accidents to cars fitted with Eyesight Technology – huge testament to the system’s ability to actively assist drivers to drive in maximum safety.

On the back of this industry topping safety rating – XV is almost unstoppable off-road and as such the latest marketing campaign, aired on National Geographic, claims that XV is ‘BETTER WHERE IT MATTERS’ – a statement that rings very true.

Rear of Subaru XV

When buying a car, people tend to want safety, reliability and ability – all things that matter, all things the XV ticks the box of boldly and what doesn’t matter to most buyers, the XV still provides in some way or other, maybe not providing them as well or as plush as others, but still providing.

Arriving at an airfield in the Cotswolds that resembled a gale swept, turbulent ocean – due to the horizontal rainfall, it was into a retired Boeing 747 for a briefing of this new model, the fuselage suitably equipped with said new model for perusal I must add.

From here, it was an adventure akin to a military operation that set off on a short road route, providing myself and a fellow motoring writer with an SE Premium 2.0L model. Costing £28,495 the SE Premium receives satellite navigation, heated leather seats, an 8-way power adjustable driver’s seat and sunroof along with X-Mode & hill descent control for your safety on-road and ability off-road.

Keyless entry & push button start adds convenience with an 8” touch-screen incorporating Apple Carplay & Android Auto along with LED steering responsive headlights which include high beam assist present.

Subaru XV Driving

To the untrained eye, the XV hasn’t changed much on the outside and despite Subaru’s all-new chassis being deployed; looks remain very similar with just a small changes here and there. Inside however, is vastly improved from the previous model and to be honest, the area that really did need improving.

The cabin, and materials used within, is still very much designed as an area that will see a lot of wear and tear from outdoorsy folk, thankfully though, it’s much less ‘recycled drinks bottle’ looking than before and better laid out – a place I’d happily spend 15,000 miles a year.

Infotainment does the job, if a little slow to respond compared to other brands but you get Sat-Nav, AM/FM/DAB Radio and phone connectivity with streaming and Bluetooth along with reverse camera.

After our short and pleasant journey, it was into the grounds of a manor to test the Subaru XV off-road and having experienced first-hand, just what the previous model was capable of, I was eager to get going.

Having navigated our way across a field that resembled the mosh pit at a moist Glastonbury, it was along some tracks that my ten year old VW Golf could easily have managed before stopping at a shooting range.

Side of Subaru XV

Air rifle shooting with explosive targets was rather enjoyable despite the howling gales and was to be the most enjoyable part of the so-called off-road course as when I asked “so where are the off-road tracks” I was told “this is it” – I do hope to bring you a video in the near future highlighting true capability as it is nothing short of mind-blowing.

A very small decline let us try out the hill-decent control and then it was back to the airfield on a longer road route where we got to stretch the legs of the XV a little more and to be honest, the non-turbocharged engine, combined with the CVT ‘box, gets a little strained and noisy at speed.

Returning nothing more than 35mpg combined, performance is a little lack-lustre but bearable in its defence as the way the XV drives more than makes up for any lack of power. Despite being much more rigid than before, on-road, the XV is still very refined and corners impeccably.

At the airfield, was an agility test, via which we had the chance to do a back-to-back comparison against the previous XV – an incredibly valuable exercise on this coned handling course, that highlighted how advanced and stable the XV has become.

Subaru XV is a small family car that doesn’t have any stigma or badge snobbery attached like some rivals, it’s a four-wheel-drive car built on a four-wheel-drive platform unlike all rivals that are two-wheel-drive platforms made to be average at best, four-wheel-drives.

Yes alright, the XV brings a no frills, no gimmicks approach, but that’s appealing and is ‘better where it matters’ – offering ability and agility alongside unquestionable safety.

Can Subaru become the fastest growing brand of 2018 off the back of this and the new Impreza model? Only time will tell but they are making the right moves with affordable finance for the first time I can remember, starting from as little as £331/month over 48 months with 6,000 miles/annum.


About Author

Graham is a professional photographer and motoring writer with over 15 varied years of coverage from manufacturer press launches to international motorsport and rally events throughout the world. Graham is a full member of the Guild of Motoring Writers. See more at

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