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Tyres /  Tyre News4x4 & SUV / Subaru Crosstrek

Trekin’ fantastic? New Subaru Crosstrek battles Skoda and Suzuki for all-terrain title

Subaru Crosstrek front

Subaru’s reworked crossover takes the reins from the outgoing and popular XV. Starting from £34,290, is this Impreza on stilts worth the premium over similar hatchbacks? 

Many compact crossovers talk the talk but, when it comes to venturing off the beaten track, few can walk the walk. While it doesn’t possess the same charisma or panache as the fiery rally-bred models which first hoist the brand into the spotlight, Subaru’s modestly styled Crosstrek (formerly the XV), does boast the same genuine off-road ability.  

We suspect this versatility is why it’s been one of the brand’s strongest sellers since its introduction in 2012. But, other than a snappy new name, what else has the Japanese marque improved to keep it relevant?  

The way it looks, for one. On the outside Subaru says the Crosstrek communicates ‘a ready-for-adventure spirit’, which equals a new frameless hexagon grille, sleek headlights, and contrasting black body cladding for a rugged feel. 17 or 18-inch alloys are also available depending on which spec you choose – both enhance the rufty-tufty look.

Subaru Crosstrek Rear
New air outlets in the rear bumper improve aerodynamic performance and reduce body sway.
Image credit: Subaru

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Jump into the cabin and you’ll be greeted by more comfortable and supportive seats, as well as a standard 11.6-inch high-res touchscreen with obligatory Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and a rear-view camera. Helping to ensure the Crosstrek feels just as premium on the move, Subaru’s engineers have also added greater sound deadening, although (as we’ll get to in a minute), this might prove more of a necessity than a luxury.  

When it comes to powertrains, you’re not exactly spoilt for choice. Just one option is available: a 2.0-litre petrol 4-cylinder boxer engine. Producing only 134 bhp it's not particularly punchy, and when channeled through an all-wheel drive system achieves a laborious 10.8 second 0-60 mph run.

Realistically though, crossover buyers aren’t looking for lightning-quick performance. More relevant, and concerning, is the standard CVT transmission – a gearbox design which in almost every application to date, has proven to be noisy and unrefined when worked hard.

If that doesn’t phase you, you’ll be happy to hear that several improvements have been made to the car’s underpinnings to enhance safety and handling. A new full inner frame boasts 10% higher torsional rigidity, offering upticks in ride quality and cornering. Meanwhile, the latest version of Subaru’s acclaimed EyeSight® Driver Assist Technology can now identify potential hazards more quickly and take evasive action accordingly. 

Subaru Crosstrek Interior
Central touchscreen improves functionality, but physical buttons remain for frequently used features.
Image credit: Subaru

But how does it compare to its closest rivals? Unfortunately for the Subaru there’s a myriad of different options to choose from, all with different strengths. For example, Kia’s Sportage is cheaper and faster but less visually appealing – and probably not as reliable. While Skoda’s Karoq boasts a far bigger boot than the Subaru, but inferior off-road performance. 

Suzuki’s S-Cross is arguably closest to the Crosstrek in terms of its left-field Japanese utility, and is well matched in terms of performance, practicality, and fuel economy. However, the Subaru offers a more modern design – both inside and out. 

It might not be top of the pack in all areas, but if you’re in the market for a crossover that’ll keep you rolling when other similar machines are left spinning hopelessly, the Crosstrek is the car for you. After all, if Subaru’s fabled all-wheel-drive system is good enough to win three World Rally Championship titles, it should cope with 2cm of sleet on the M6 Toll.  

Would you consider the Crosstrek over some of its more popular rivals? Tell us which crossovers you’ve got your eye on.

Hero image credit:  Subaru

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