Suburu Levorg a winner

MY17 Subaru Levorg GT-S.
MY17 Subaru Levorg GT-S.

THE Levorg, despite its Neanderthal-sounding name, is a fresh take on family transport and one of Subaru’s best offerings in a while.

The Euro-styled sports wagon is an excellent blend of practicality, comfort, safety and performance, and comes in two levels of equipment: GT and GT-S.

Then there’s an option on the latter for an upgrade to B-Spec.

All have the same 197kW/

350Nm 2.0litre turbo boxer engine, CV transmission and AWD, and are priced from $42,990 for the GT to $48,890 for the GT-S.

The B-Spec package for the GT-S is an extra $4000.

It’s a handsome vehicle with athletic lines and a big bonnet airscoop emphasises the point.

Fact is, the Levorg is virtually a WRX wagon. It uses a stretched version of the WRX platform to give it great cargo space – 522litres with the back seats in place – and spacious and comfortable accommodation for five adults.

Fold the back seats and the cargo section expands to 1446litres on a perfectly flat floor. That translates to about the same interior space as a biggish SUV, but with much better looks, performance, safety and driveability.

The GT-S is well worth the extra $5900 in that it comes with leather, rather than fabric trim, a sunroof, Bilstein suspension, a suspension strut brace, sports seats, powered driver’s seat, better audio system, a bigger multi-function touchscreen and Siri-compatible voice recognition.

Instrumentation is comprehensive, and includes a vacuum gauge and accelerator angle to make drivers more aware of fuel use. That’s because the Levorg is OK, but not particularly light on fuel.

Official average consumption is 8.7litres/100km and we almost equalled that on a run to Northam. Travelling at the legal limit and a light foot, we returned 8.8.

But around the metro area it will use circa 9.6.

Standard features include climate and cruise control, height and reach-adjustable multi-function steering wheel, remote central locking, keyless entry and push-button start, auto-on lights and wipers, tinted windows, Bluetooth, USB connectivity and audio streaming.

There’s an excellent wide-angle reversing camera too.

The mighty powertrain can take the Levorg to 100km/h in 6.6seconds and the transmission is interesting in offering six or eight-speed stepped configuration, depending on which steering wheel button you press: Intelligent, Sport or Sport#.

Each mode has a marked effect, not only on performance, but also in song.

We liked Sport best. And the ratios can be rapidly changed by steering wheel paddles.

Safety-wise, there are seven airbags plus all the dynamic and passive bits, hill-start assist (in both directions) and Subaru’s latest ‘Eyesight’ technology, which scans the road ahead to prevent whacking other traffic or errant pedestrians. It also has lane departure warning, blind-spot detection, rear cross-traffic alert, and a little side-view monitor, which was useful for precision parking.

Verdict: Joy on wheels. The only thing we didn’t love was its name.

Bill Buys