If our drive of the Subaru Levorg is anything to go by, both head and heart suggest it’s hit a sweet spot that’ll likely appeal to many.
Once very well-known for its stationwagons, Subaru is marking its return to the territory with this – its new Levorg load-lugger.
As the name (derived from a combination of Legacy EVolution tOuRinG) suggests, the new car is seeking to rekindle the love affair with the wagon – specifically, the fourth generation Subaru Legacy GT wagon.
But the Japanese carmaker has taken a slightly different approach. Of course, permanent four-wheel drive remains, but the Levorg is designed to be driven on the road rather than off it.
In the flesh, the Levorg is muscular without resorting to overly boy racer-isms. The WRX-like bonnet scoop, pumped up front and rear guards, roof spoiler and generous sideskirts are the Levorg’s main concessions to sportiness, appearance wise.
Some may refer to it as the WRX wagon and we don’t blame them. In fact everything from the B-pillar forwards is borrowed from Subaru’s performance hero. Yet the nicely proportioned rump gives the Levorg a character of its own, and that’s enough to separate the two.
The wagon’s athletic intent is reflected in its wide wheel arch stance and sleeker silhouette compared to any previous Legacy equivalent and if you park it beside the Outback (Subaru’s only other wagon on offer), its mid-sized packaging is evident.
Subaru has a reputation for producing sturdy interiors and the Levorg is no different. General build quality is excellent and everything feels like it has been fitted with care and a sense of longevity.
Up front, the driver faces a neat instrument binnacle, while the centre console houses a touchscreen infotainment system that’s leagues ahead of what Subaru used to offer.
Compared to the Forester, there’s a much lower slung seat positioning, though all-round visibility from behind the wheel is still impressive.
The Levorg also foregoes the WRX-style sports seats for a more relaxed electric front leather seat design that is both purposeful and comfortable.
In the wagon, Subaru has managed the neat trick of packing the space of the bigger Legacy into a smaller overall footprint, so the packaging is tidy, with plenty of passenger and luggage space.
Like most wagons, the Levorg has a wide opening, flat loading lip, and rear seats that drop completely flat at the touch of a button to increase load space.
With 168bhp and 250Nm of torque, the 1.6-litre turbocharged engine may not have quite as much power as some other force-fed Subarus, but it is a really refined one.
It delivers its capabilities in a smooth and linear fashion right across the rev range, and this flexibility makes it relaxing to just pot around town or to perform overtaking manoeuvres on the highway.
Hooked up to the Boxer engine is Subaru’s Lineartronic CVT transmission. Unlike some CVTs that drone loudly under heavy acceleration, Subaru’s system does a reasonable impression of a regular automatic – it even gives the driver the option to select gears manually via the steering wheel mounted paddles.
However, it still takes a wee bit of time to get up and cranking, even with the Sport Sharp drive mode activated, but once up and spinning, it’s fairly rapid. As such, the car returns a fairly impressive 0-100km/h time of 8.9 seconds.
Beneath the surface, the Levorg actually shares a platform with the WRX, which has also donated part of its suspension setup. And on the road, the wagon’s sporting genes can certainly be identified.
For an estate, it handles remarkably well, always remaining composed and stable through corners with virtually no body roll. Thanks to Subaru’s famed Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive, the Levorg also encourages you to push a little harder with strong grip and traction.
However, the steering that is slightly void of feedback may leave you wondering when the grip will run out. Although it is consistently weighty and accurate, a bit more communication as to what’s going on would be preferable.
So the Subaru Levorg is almost as accomplished as the WRX in a dynamic and aesthetical sense but the fact that it’s more refined and more practical will probably see it appeal to a wider demographic.
Kudos to Subaru and its wagon-making capabilities.
By Regan Ong, sgCarMart, 1 February 2016