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2018 Subaru Levorg GT-S Review




Within the Subaru line-up there’s no shortage of overlap between the models and no where is this more evident than with the Levorg. Silly name aside, the Levorg takes the performance DNA from the WRX and splices it with the practicality of the Liberty into a package that will have the whole family grinning from ear to ear.

Best described as the love child between a WRX and a Liberty, the Levorg is a stylish collection of metal, glass and paint jam packed with features and performance. The sharp angular edges prominent in the WRX have been sculpted into a more refined and conservative appearance that suits the suburban arena most Levorgs will call home. A giant bonnet scoop and blade styled 18-inch alloy wheels are ever present to hint at the performance available to on lookers and make for one of the coolest looking wagons around.

The blue that’s become synonymous with the Subaru brand has worked its way into the interior in the form of stitching along the leather seats, wheel and trim. There’s also drilled metal pedals and where the WRX has faux carbon the Levorg swaps in piano black highlights.

Take one look at the steering wheel and it’s clear to see that Subaru have gone button mad, they’re absolutely everywhere and in many cases quite redundant. There’s two wheel mounted buttons that toggle between the three SI Drive profiles where one would do and the three large switches located on the rear of the wheel could also be replaced with just one. They’ve even placed a few buttons to disable safety features up near the map lights of all places.

Small A, B and C pillars offer excellent visibility for a wagon which is heightened further by Subaru’s clever use of cameras that aid blind spot monitoring along with offering improved proximity awareness when parking, no more excuses for gutter-rashed rims.

The Levorg comes equipped with EyeSight that keeps track of your surroundings and steps in to save your bacon in moments of need. Start to leave your lane and the system gently nudges the car back on course while warning you to pay more attention and assists with keeping the car centred within its lane when cornering. Hit up a road that engages you as a driver and you’ll quickly want to disable it and take full control of your machine.

Practicality combined with performance is the name of the game for the Levorg and it fulfils both roles more than adequately. Five people can be propelled in safety, comfort and style thanks to the roomy interior that also offers plenty of cargo space courtesy of the well sized boot. All seats up there’s 489L of capacity and once you jettison those from the rear you’ve got a whopping 1413L to fill up in their absence.

Compared to the WRX, the Levorg has been softened up and given a suspension tune that’s in line with a grand tourer rather than an off-road rally monster. It’s softer through the turns and bumpy stuff while the extra weight of the wagon makes it best driven at seven tenths rather than flat out.

Around town the ride is comfort orientated while remaining firm, some how Subaru has found a way to coax the suspension into doing both adequately. The leather seats have okay bolstering but would benefit from additional shoulder support for better holding ability.

At the limit the Levorg is neutral through and through, the turn in is still sharp and mid corner corrections are easy to make while the AWD system naturally provides endless traction. In the right hands a Levorg can stick with some serious competition, in the one week I had my hands on it I was able to put to shame a CBR600 sports bike on an uphill run who was going full tilt and also fend off the 4WD attack of an older Skyline GT-R in wet conditions.

Performance is always a compromise though and the Levorg is no exception, all that grip comes with the downside of extra road noise from the aggressively treaded tyres, it’s not deafening but between music tracks you’ll notice it for sure.

At the heart lies the same engine found in the WRX. Still turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder and making 197kW @ 5,600rpm it comes on proper around 2,700rpm after the boost kicks in. That same power is backed up by 350Nm of torque available through 2,400rpm to 5,200rpm making the Levorg an easy ride around town. The extra weight of the wagon body hinders overall performance as well as fuel economy, at best I was able to manage 11.4L/100km which for the big turbocharged wagon is manageable and won’t melt your wallet.

Getting that power to all four wheels falls to the CVT automatic which revs out almost like an ordinary torque converter gearbox when needed while also dishing out responsive rapid shifts. Push it to the limit and the CVT gets quite noisy so those with mechanical sympathy will need to fight through it to reap the performance. Luckily you’ll also be rewarded with the orchestra of turbocharged noises that draw out the inner Colin McRae of every Subaru driver that make a little CVT whine worth it.

The Levorg GT-S tested here is effectively top spec and comes fully loaded with all sorts of toys and technology, key of which is the aforementioned EyeSight safety system which works when needed and is mostly non-invasive, hardly ever any false positives. The included radar cruise control is brilliant and worked without fault for the entire duration I had the car, easily controlled by the wheel mounted controls. Another star of the line-up is the standard fit Harmon Kardon stereo that blasts out crisp thunderous beats throughout the spacious cabin. Unfortunately, like its WRX brother, there’s no digital radio to be seen or heard.

In most cars if you chuck three passengers in the back they block your view out the rear but not so in the Levorg. Subaru has added a camera to the rear of the car that relays the image straight into the rear view mirror to save you the pain of seeing particularly ugly faces with the added benefit of seeing the road behind you.

Proximity keyless entry works in tandem with the push button start for extra convenience except that there’s a hesitation at times before the car recognises you’re there. So you’ll go to open up the door and be greeted with rejection, locked out of your pride and joy, then quickly realising the error of its ways the car notices you and allows you in.

The Levorg also gains the same directional headlights found in the WRX that couple with the auto high beam dipping feature to provide excellent visibility without blinding oncoming drivers. For family trips to unknown locations there’s GPS powered satnav but make sure to enter the destination prior to setting off as it won’t allow address input while on the move, makes sense for a single driver car but what about the co-driver?

To top things off on the comfort side of things there’s heated seats with switches located in a more accessible location than the WRX, dual zone climate control and the sunroof which as in the WRX lowers the roof line to the dismay of taller drivers.

Verdict

Design and Comfort: 8/10

Performance and Handling: 8/10

Quality: 8.5/10

Economy: 8/10

Equipment and Features: 9/10

Our Score: 4.2/5

I stepped into the the Subaru Levorg expecting a WRX in wagon form but stepped out pleasantly surprised with the differences Subaru have applied to make the Levorg its own car.

The Levorg offers up performance, practicality and comfort in a stylish package that’s sure to be a hit with families. The mature option for those that still have the flame of a rev-head lit in their hearts, a dignified wolf in sheep’s clothing that can still lay the smack-down on rivals if prodded.

Pros

  • Superb balance of performance and practicality
  • Road presence
  • Comprehensive safety features
  • Awesome stereo

Cons

  • Buttons galore on steering wheel
  • Proximity unlock can be slow to react
  • CVT noisy when thrashed

2018 Subaru Levorg GT-S Pricing and Specification

Price (Excl. on-road costs): From: $45,640

As tested: $45,640

Warranty: 3 years/unlimited kilometers

1 Year Roadside Assistance

Country of Origin: Japan
Service Intervals: 6 months/12,500km
Engine: 2.0-litre direct injected, turbocharged horizontally-opposed boxer 4-cylinder, petrol engine

197kW @ 5,600rpm, 350Nm @ 2,400-5,200rpm

Transmission: CVT
Drivetrain: All-wheel drive
Power to Weight Ratio (W/kg): 123.8
0-100km/h (s) Claimed: 6.6
Combined Fuel Consumption (L/100km): Claimed: 8.7 / Tested: 10.9
RON Rating: 95
Fuel Capacity (L): 60
Body: 5-door wagon, 5 seats
Safety: 5-star ANCAP, 7 Airbags, seatbelt pre-tensioners front seats, ABS, TCS, ESC, BA, EBD, Reversing Camera, Blind Spot Camera, BSM, RCTA
Dimensions (L/W/H/W-B) mm: 4690/1780/1490/2650
Kerb Weight (kg): 1,631
Entertainment: 7.0-inch Infotainment System, 8-speaker Harmon Kardon audio with Subwoofer, Satellite Navigation, Bluetooth, USB and AUX

Competitors:

Skoda Octavia RS 245, Renault Megane Wagon GT, Volkswagen Golf R Wagon

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