SUBARU has really kicked a goal with its new Impreza-based XV soft roader, with sales going through the roof.
It's like Outback/Liberty a wagon (hatch) on stilts with semi off-road add-ons and buyers are loving it.
That could be as much to do with value pricing as with the car itself though it looks tough out in the street and is certainly the best-looking model in Sooby's current line-up.
You wouldn't know it, but there was an XV in the previous model – but nothing like this one.
The new car ushers in a new-generation 2.0-litre, naturally-aspirated petrol boxer engine code named FB20.
It is designed primarily for low emissions and fuel economy and passes the stringent Euro5 regulations.
It's good for 110kW/196Nm output and a claimed 7.3-litres/100km on regular unleaded.
Adding to fuel efficiency is model-wide adoption of auto stop-start for gains in the city.
We got hold of the base model XV2.0i manual and were impressed by the standard kit that includes a premium audio system, Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, auto aircon, cruise, a multi-function display, those funky black 17-inch alloys, rear view camera and hill start assist, to name a few goodies.
The XV rides higher than Impreza hatch on which it's based and has a more purposeful look around the edges and inside.
Like the exterior, the interior is new and is a quantum leap forward for Subaru which favoured cheap, hard, plastic interiors until this car arrived.
It looks almost European, is highly functional and practical as well as providing a higher level of comfort with plenty of soft contact points and storage compartments.
Safety is well addressed, with the XV scoring a strong five-star ANCAP rating that looks after pedestrians as well as occupants.
It's quiet on the road due to extra sound deadening and better design in key areas, and the suspension is compliant but controlled – just what you want for a knockabout, semi-offroader in this demanding environment.
In its quest to optimise fuel economy, Subaru has over-geared the XV manual and pitched the torque peak too high at 4200rpm.
The CVT auto is the opposite and the better of the two.
Drive both, especially on the highway, and see for yourself.
See them at Osborne Park Subaru.