The Subaru XV: cross over to adventure

Syllable is affiliated to Subaru and their digital agency.

I’ve asked Grant for his thoughts on the Subaru XV, so this co-written post is a first. OK, so it’s mostly Grant’s words, with my two cents in italics.

I’ve always been a bit of a Subaru fan. Years ago, my buddy had a WRX and I was kind of envious of his car in a few ways: the four-wheel-drive performance (spectacular!) and that unmistakable Subaru Boxer engine. I also quite liked the somewhat minimalist interior – all the essentials, but nothing more. It just felt a bit more like a driver’s car than mine did.

I may or may not have mentioned that Grant really knows a lot about cars. Not only did he tell me the correct word I was looking for was “lugs” when I asked what you call “the goodies that go on the battery terminals to connect them to your car”. He also sorted out my car’s leaky radiator – for now – and other stuff. Like, a lot of other stuff. I’ve listed a bit of his pedigree at the bottom of this post, but don’t tell him. He doesn’t like to brag. But I do, so that’s OK.

I was impressed by the Subaru XV from the first moment (and not just because of the colour, which is called Sunrise). It is a well-sized, four-door SUV, with quite aggressive styling on each end of the vehicle. As someone that spends a lot of time on dirt roads (no kidding!), I looked at two things: tyres (225/55R18 if I’m not mistaken, although honestly, I don’t know the relevance of this. Also 18 x 7“J for what it’s worth?) and ground clearance (this one I know – 220mm. It was the first thing I asked when I saw the XV. I also spend a fair bit of time on said dirt roads).

The interior was even more impressive, stuffed with technology – from reverse cameras to EyeSight (Subaru’s advanced driver assist technology that detects and interprets the environment, accurately tracking things like vehicles, motorcycles, bicycles and pedestrians).

I arrived after dark, thanks to Jo’burg traffic, and in an effort to keep the XV relatively dust-free (haha, I maded a funny) we took it up to the workshop, where Grant spent half a lifetime taking pics and playing under the bright lights. I dutifully amused the dog.

Getting behind the wheel, the first thing that struck me was the ease of access to everything. Keyless start, switch operated hand break, pop it into drive, and off we go. Everything you need is at your fingertips. Radio, phone, adaptive cruise control, paddle shift levers (oh he loved those!), everything. An absolute breeze to drive.

The front seats are perfect, nice firm hold on your body, and infinitely adjustable. The distance between the pedals and steering wheel is perfect too, and with small adjustments to the seat position, you have something you could drive for hours on end, comfortably. Like when we head down to Durban in October?

I managed to manoeuvre the car easily in the confined spaces between tractors, trailers, bales of hay, and more inside the shed without even batting an eye. I was completely in love with the reverse camera and guides by the time I was done. Lies. He raved about that reverse camera from the first time he used it.

Now that she was safely located in the barn, we contemplated interesting locations for a shoot.

We spent Saturday morning driving around the farms, kicking up just a little bit of dust, and getting some great shots. Well, Grant took the pics. Then we headed onto the tar…

On the road

Being a car and motorsport enthusiast, the first thing I did when we hit the tar, was put the XV into paddle shift mode and play. Meaning he made F1 sounds every time he changed gear. It was adorable!

The car has a seven-speed essentially automatic gearbox that is smooth as a hot knife through butter, and intelligent enough that it won’t let you do anything stupid. To be completely honest, I was unable to do a better job of manually operating the gearbox, and eventually accepted defeat, and left it in automatic mode.

The lane assist was a bit intrusive, as it tends to ping quite a lot in normal daily use, picking up the beginning and ending of dual lanes, overtaking and various other general road markings. I’m sure on a long drive it would be more useful.

The only thing I was a little disappointed in, was the general performance of the engine. It relies heavily on higher rev ranges, which I’m sure is to make best use of the gearbox, however, (and I’m a bit of a fan of performance cars, so take it from where it comes) I felt that the car was a bit lacklustre.

I think that this car is ridiculous value for money, and punches far above its weight category. I’d score the interior at 11/10 and performance at about 8/10. It’s a great mix of tar and dirt driving, and looks and feels superb to boot.

Syllable’s review:

I connected my phone to the entertainment system – Subaru supports both Apple CarPlay™ and Android Auto™ – and enjoyed being able to actually hear my podcasts while driving down the dirt road – which I hardly noticed! #smoothride #winning #yass

I also liked the blind-spot blinky lights, which came in very handy on William Nicol.

I loved that I didn’t feel overwhelmed by the size of the vehicle (compared to my compact sedan) and the heads-up display with its touch-screen is amazing.

If you want to read a really awesome interview with Grant (done long before I met him), click here.

My Grant  a brief and incomplete career history:
At age 11 he started Karting in 1989.
In 1994 he started circuit car racing and won the sports car championship in 1995.
He placed second in the Formula Ford Championship in 1996, and won it in 1997 – only his second year racing Formula Ford.
He also represented SA in the 1997 Formula Ford World Finals.
In 1998 he started racing world sports cars and in 1999 he raced the 24 hours of Le Mans.
1999 was his last full season of international racing.
In 2000 he earned his Protea Colours for Motorsport, and if you’re ever at the Zwartkops Race Track, look out for his name on the Wall of Fame for – Chevron B16 Champion.


  1. Nafisa

    How much is it? 🙂


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