Confidence in motion

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Monday, July 1, 2013

THE Subaru XV suburban drive Cebu leg gave us the opportunity to ride and drive Subaru’s crossover vehicle, the XV, to popular destinations in Cebu. We went to Fort San Pedro, Basilica del Sto. Niño, San Pedro Calungsod Chapel, Zubuchon for lunch, Tops, Adventure CafĂ© in Balamban, and finally Lantaw native restaurant in Busay.

We were in the company of both local and national media together with people from Motor Image Manila and Subaru Cebu last Saturday.

Subaru provided four XVs where two media persons were assigned in each XV. We were told to take turns driving the vehicle. I opted to be a passenger in the first part and only took over the wheel from Tops to Adventure Café then back.

It was the first time I had ridden and driven a Subaru XV, and the vehicle really fits Subaru’s slogan “Confidence in Motion.”

The XV is essentially a Subaru Impreza Hatchback with a higher ride height and bigger wheels. Subaru has done this concept before — of having a normal road car and having a version of that same road car with a higher ride height and bigger wheels — with their very successful Legacy Outback.

Pleasant surprise

As a passenger in the XV, I was pleasantly surprised by how comfortable the vehicle was, especially considering that this was a crossover vehicle, thus, having an SUV ride height. It actually felt like I was riding a normal road car. It went through all the bumps in our Cebu roads with ease and comfort. It was so comfortable that I even fell asleep. The vehicle is well insulated, such that outside noise was kept at minimum. The air conditioner was cold and reliable. Seats were soft and nice. There was more than enough space to keep passengers of average size comfortable. It is an excellent car to be a passenger in.

I took over the driver’s seat after our stopover at Tops. Seating position was good, all the instruments could be seen clearly and it was easy to access all of the necessary car controls. I drove the car through the nice twisty mountain roads of the Transcentral Highway all the way to Adventure CafĂ© in Balamban. To me this drive would be the true test of the XV. Driving through the Transcentral Highway in a poor handling car is a nightmare, but in a great handling car, it is just pure pleasure.

Right after exiting Tops, there are a series of tight downhill corners. To my great surprise the car can take the corners with ease having very little body roll. I was surprised! I am in a crossover vehicle with a high ride height and comfortable suspension, taking corners as if I were in a normal car with sport suspension.

Things did not seem to add up. Further up the road I knew there were some good medium speed corners and there would be no way that the XV would feel like a car, as there would be more G-forces. The handling even felt better, the XV felt so planted on the road. You get the feeling of stability and confidence.

Feat of engineering

The surprising comfort and great handling of the XV is explained by the way the car has been engineered. The XV is powered by a 2.0 horizontally opposed four-cylinder engine mounted longitudinally to a Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive gearbox. This layout keeps the center of gravity low despite the higher ride height of the XV. The symmetrical all-wheel drive gearbox dispenses with a transfer case, thereby saving weight. The net result of this engineering genius enables Subaru to install a comfortable suspension system without sacrificing handling.

Another thing I like about the XV is that its automatic transmission shifts very well and has a knack for choosing the right gear for the road condition. I did not find it necessary to use the paddle shift throughout the Transcentral Highway, which is a combination of uphill and downhill roads.

One thing that can be improved on the XV is more horsepower. The reason is not that it lacks power but rather the chassis is so good that it can handle a lot more power, and I am a person who likes a lot of horsepower.

If you are an individual in the market for a car that you yourself will drive the XV is one of the strongest contenders as it is comfortable, stable and handles really well. It is very well-suited to our roads here in Cebu. It really is confidence in motion.

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