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First Drive

First Drive: Subaru XV hybrid

The story: Subaru introduces its 150hp hybrid powertrain, coming to the XV and Forester SUV models and combining battery and 2.0-litre petrol engine
Key rival:Nissan Qashqai
On sale:Now

Subaru has always gone about things in a different way from other manufacturers, and the brand has stuck to that principle in introducing its first hybrid powertrain.

The brand has decided to drop diesel from its line-up, and is aiming to close the efficiency gap with its hybrid system, which combines a 2.0-litre petrol engine and lithium ion battery to offer 150hp.

The bad news from a company car cost point of view is that you’re not looking at Honda, Lexus or Toyota emissions levels from the hybrid powertrain, which is more limited in its scope than those systems. The XV’s 149g/km emissions figure is prohibitive despite the hybrid technology, and the official fuel economy figure sits at just 35.7mpg.

The car will run on battery alone at, Subaru says, up to 25mph, but that’s only under the feather-caressed lightest of touches on the accelerator. It’s also not the smoothest in transition, and there’s no mistaking when the engine has kicked in.First Drive-April 2020-Subaru XV E- Image 4

The CVT gearbox also means the powertrain makes a real racket under acceleration, although the engine’s responsiveness and acceleration are good.

Where the XV excels is the regular Subaru strengths of being good off-road, and being a durable, reliable proposition.

Also noteworthy is that the hybrid system takes a chunk out of the boot space, cutting a luggage area that was already far from generous by 45 litres to just 340 litres.

paul barker

The verdict

A reasonable car in isolation, and good off-road, but emissions and cost are too high.