Welcome to a review of a car I can guarantee you’ve never heard of. Subaru forged their reputation in the 90s with practical, fun gutsy AWD turbo wagons (think RS Turbo Wagon or the Liberty/Legacy turbo). Now they’re all about SUVs. To the point where everyone I’ve told about this car had absolutely no idea what I was talking about.
Anyway I’d been stalking the Subaru web site since they talked about bringing these to Australia. To me (if only me, there’s a handful on the road) it’s the perfect car. She has the running gear of a WRX without all the protein shake histrionics and oversized baseball cap tomfoolery. The only shouty thing about it is the bonnet scoop which is mildy aggressive but it’s no Donald Trump.
Seems everyone else has forgotten about sporty wagons too. The only real competition with a bit of grunt is the Skoda Octavia RS and possibly the Volkswagen Golf Wagon. I don’t even know if that comes in a hot model. The Skoda though? It’s a fantastic drive, but there’s too many Volkswagen bits for my liking and a bit firm in the suspension. It doesn’t help that it just looks like a librarian in Nike Air Jordans either.
How does it compare to the Subaru? Well the GTS is a very nice sophisticated place to be. It doesn’t feel like anyone’s dived into the Toyota parts bin (unlike Skoda with VW – though they probably have). The trim has sexy blue stitching. Her seats are firm, not rock hard like those bloody Germans.
What’s more the whole thing is cohesive; a perfect balance of form and function. My only complaint is there’s a bit too much going on with the steering wheel. There’s buttons everywhere! There’s subtle blue hues everywhere and it brings to mind our old mate Saab. It’s just incredibly well put together and looks great.
Enough about that though. How does it drive? Coming with Bilstein shocks as standard it handles beautifully. Fun but not too firm for wives and kids. It handles bumps without falling all over the place unlike another car I’ve owned for a while now.
As the Levorg only comes in an auto (you must buy the WRX for a manual) I wouldn’t blame you for having reservations. But don’t the transmission is one of the best things about the car. Yes it’s an 8 speed CVT but it just works. It doesn’t have the hesitation or vagueness of typical autos. With Sport mode it gets a bit angrier and with Sport# mode, it’s a rev holding psychopath. Take your foot off the loud pedal and it holds revs like a manual. Honestly it’s the one thing I thought I’d hate the most but ended up being my favourite feature. What’s more with all that AWD grip, its hard to find the limit. But it is fun.
OK now to brass tacks. The engine. Subarus always sound like a bunch of angry wasps. While the exhaust is fairly muted it still has character. On paper it has less power than a Commodore SV6 but paper, schmaper. It’s bloody brilliant and delivers power in colossal, torquey lumps! It doesn’t mind a rev either.
In short, it has a great auto, a great interior, it’s well put together and it goes pretty bloody well. Quite frankly it’s the best car your mum’s never heard of and it’s bloody good for it. If it had a German badge on it, it would sell for twice the price. But it’s the exact same quality. Buy one before everyone finds out how good they are.