Subaru has high but realistic ambitions for its turbocharged 1.6-litre station wagon
THIS is, in a way, the wagon variant of the Impreza WRX, sharing its A-pillars, “scooped” bonnet and 2650mm platform. In Japan, the 2-litre Levorg costs exactly the same as the WRX S4 saloon, down to the last yen. In Singapore, where it just made its debut as the 1.6-litre GT-S model, the Levorg is (provisionally) priced between Subaru’s own 2.5-litre Outback and Mazda’s 2.5-litre 6 estate. That might be a sweet spot in our market for the Levorg, whose exterior “lifestylishness”, interior practicality and general driveability are combined harmoniously in a complete package for the urban dweller. He’ll wonder about the name, though. According to Subaru, Levorg is short for “Legacy Revolution Touring”. I guess it sounds a lot better than Lereto or Legarevotour. More interestingly, the Levorg plays havoc with our island’s Japanese wagon segment by offering a European-ish motoring experience, complete with smoothly turbocharged torque. It’s hotter than the Forester, more impressive than the Impreza hatchback and almost as spacious as the last Legacy wagon.
Levorg’s cabin is smaller than Forester’s, but sportier and betterequipped, while the boot is slightly bigger
This likeable new 1.6-litre turbo boxer 4-cylinder has the potential to power other Subarus in due course
The Levorg offers a useful 522 litres of cargo space, which can be easily expanded to 1466 litres by folding the 60:40 split backseats that have convenient levers to facilitate the split-fold action. This newcomer is meant to be a lifestyle vehicle, so get a “life” and load it up with some outdoor sports equipment instead of agricultural implements. Not that it cannot support farming activities. With a turbocharged all-wheel-drive powertrain and Subaru’s usual mechanical toughness, the Levorg can be a robust machine off the beaten path.
However, its working life is likely to be on tarmac, with no crops to harvest or livestock to herd. But there are cones to avoid and two different circuits to tackle at Taipei’s Nangang Exhibition Centre where I tested the Levorg. The 170bhp 1.6-litre turbo boxer engine works enthusiastically with the Lineartronic CVT, complete with paddle-shifters, to provide peppy performance. It’s far less energetic than the 2-litre WRX, of course, but its acceleration to 80km/h is eager and its cornering/braking capabilities are encouraging, with plenty of grip at every juncture. Its steering seems to be accurate and well-weighted, too. Behind the wheel, it’s a pleasant environment. The dashboard’s layout is idiot-proof and the excellent equipment includes a 7-inch infotainment touchscreen, dual-zone auto aircon, automatic LED headlamps, rain-sensing wipers, keyless access, push-button ignition, slide/tilt sunroof, aluminium pedals and a rear view camera. The multi-function steering wheel is well-shaped and the front seats provide good support.
The blue stitching on the cabin’s leather upholstery is a nice touch. The only question mark is over the two USB ports on the centre console for rear passengers. Those ports are undoubtedly useful, but extra air-con vents there would have been more welcome in Singapore’s hot weather, I reckon. The 1.6-litre Levorg GT-S is one of the most complete cars from Japan in recent years. It’s a do-itall, practical and capable station wagon that can appeal to a wide variety of drivers, from Thai-made Category A saloon upgraders to ex-Volvo estate owners. Too bad the 2-litre Levorg, which is a WRX wagon in all but name, won’t be sold in Singapore, although the local boss of Motor Image is believed to own one.