Tuesday, October 20, 2015

First Drive: 2016 Subaru Levorg 1.6 GT-S

Photos by Ulysses Ang
Repeat after me: turbocharged wagon. That should be reason enough why you should consider getting the Subaru Levorg over any other executive car offering out there, but allow me to explain further. See, the executive tourer/shooting brake/wagon segment was pretty much cornered by Subaru with their Legacy GT wagon a few years back, but its demise meant you could only get that fix with a Mazda6 Sports Wagon or an Outback. Sure, these are pretty good machines in their own right, but they’re not turbocharged wagons. Now though, everything is back to normal and you finally get a sort-of-Legacy wagon.

Before talking about the driving impressions itself, let’s get one thing out of the way: this isn’t simply a WRX wagon. Though Subaru engineers have mentioned time and time again during the launch that though the foundations are shared, the WRX wagon was a compromised machine—it valued sportiness over versatility and comfort. On the other hand, it’s not a Legacy wagon either so don’t expect it to wallow and flop through corners. This is an altogether different animal and hence why they spun it off as an entirely new model.



It does share the same front-end construction of the WRX, minus the quick-ratio 14:1 steering (according to the engineers), so expect a very stiff body with a roll rate comparable to that of a BRZ. In addition, it betters against fancier European competitors (and the Mazda6) in the double emergency lane change handling test. The entire rear end though is exclusive to the Levorg with its own unique tuning to the rear Double Wishbone suspension equating to less floor vibrations again compared to its European and Japanese rivals. And like any other Subaru, it has Symmetrical AWD (Active Torque Split) as standard.

Over to the engine front, it comes exclusive with turbocharged engines: a 1.6 and a 2.0-liter. The bigger one though is exclusive for Japan given its appetite for high-octane fuel. What everyone else gets, including our market, is a 1.6-liter Flat-4 with 170 horsepower and 250 Nm of torque. These figures are relatively pedestrian but considering peak horsepower comes in at 4,800 rpm and peak torque at 1,800 to 4,800 rpm, it presents itself as usable in the real world. The FB16 starts out as the base Impreza’s engine but with a new direct-injection fuel delivery system and of course, a turbocharger. Despite the forced induction, it sees a higher bump in compression ratio: 11.0:1 compared to the WRX’s 10.6:1. Plus, since Subaru keeps on comparing ts power figures to its own FB25, there’s no doubt we’ll see this engine in future models (and yes, the Subaru engineer did confirm this).



Going back to the Levorg, the only transmission is Subaru’s chain-driven Lineartronic CVT transmission. Like the system first introduced in the Legacy and Outback, this CVT features a built-in step ratio whenever the throttle is squeezed past 35 percent in the default ‘Intelligent’ and 30 percent in ‘Sport’. This makes it behave like a regular automatic. For those who apply the throttle gingerly though, it goes through infinite ratios for fuel economy. Of course, it has paddle shifters in case you want to change the ratios on your own. The use of low viscosity oil should translate to excellent fuel economy figures rated at 11.76 km/L in the city and up to 15.87 km/L on the highway.

In terms of exterior design, it’s unashamed to hide its WRX origins, but at least there’s some differentiation particularly because of more chrome. There’s a right spattering of it found in the grille, fog lamp cluster, window molding, and even mirrors. The front bumper has also been changed to add a bit more curves to the front end. All in all, this makes the Levorg more befitting as an executive vehicle as opposed to something a boy racer would enjoy hooning. It’s a sharp-looking car overall especially with the turbine-style, two-tone 18-inch alloy wheels. The rear is less dramatic except for the hawk-eye shaped rear LED lamps and twin tailpipes with a built-in diffuser.



Inside, WRX owners will feel a sense of déjà vu down to the meaty, flat-bottomed steering wheel. However, detail changes have been made to improve the overall fit and finish. For one, there’s an abundance of piano black accents and chrome bits to improve the feel. More soft-touch plastic and leather has been used, especially at driver and passenger touch points including a one-touch operation for all windows. A side note to would-be Levorg owners though: you should love blue. Aside from black and silver, that’s what you’re going to see a lot of: from gauge highlights to even the stitching on the steering wheel and seats. Improved packaging also means there’s good space inside despite the compact proportions. In fact, it’s just 30 millimeters down in rear knee room compared to the previous Legacy while managing to keep the same 520 liters of luggage space with the seats up (1,446 liters with the rear seats down). The Levorg also shares the same touch screen audio system with no less than six USB inputs (including two for the rear) with easily one of the best voice-recognition systems in the market.

Subaru says they benchmarked the Volvo V60 and Audi S3 for the Levorg’s handling characteristics and it shows. As a Subaru owner myself, climbing into the driver’s seat feels pretty much at home. There’s excellent visibility all around (thank you large windows) and of course, the driving controls all fall easily into hand. Disengaging the electronic parking brake, it’s off through a short testing course. With the throttle firmly planted to the floor, it accelerates well. With the SI-Drive left in Intelligent, the experience is actually quite ordinary; however, when put in Sport, it accelerates with gusto. It doesn’t have the same ‘punched in the gut’ feel as the WRX, but there’s also noticeably less turbo lag. It’s largely quiet with the exception of a bit of turbo whine at high revs and a bit of CVT drone.



Through the slalom course, it demonstrates excellent body control even at ambitious cornering speeds. The electric power-assisted steering is weighty and quick to react, enabling you to point the front end very quickly pretty much like a WRX. However, midway into the corner, the softer rear suspension does make itself evident in the form of understeer. More than once, you’ll find it pitching into tighter hairpins requiring you to brake to correct your line. What it does trade in agility, it gains in terms of stability and riding comfort. With a long-travel suspension, it keeps all four corners planted at all times even without any of the electronic nannies kicking in. What’s more, it actually absorbs more of the lumps and bumps that would otherwise unsettle a WRX.

A full-on test drive in the Philippines is required to pass judgment on the all-new Subaru Levorg. With packaging clearly designed for tight confines like Manila roads but with enough space and grunt for a weekend of play out of town, I like what I see. And with an indicative pricing between P 1,700,000 to P 1,800,000 it easily becomes Subaru’s most affordable turbocharged entry. Beyond the juicy pricing though, it’s quite an individual, if a bit quirky, choice. Sure, Subaru’s still got the Forester XT if you want more ground clearance, but the Levorg is a turbocharged wagon. And for enthusiast, that’s already enough to whet their appetite.


50 comments:

  1. Good review. and nice car as well. But if you dont need the trunk space and AWD - this car is practically pointless -pricewise. Might as well go for the Focus 1.5 turbo or the 1.5 civic turbo (granting both will be released here.) and surely will be a lot cheaper by 300-400 grand easily.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. But for me, I am sticking with Subaru. Might as well go for the Levorg Turbo because I need trunk space and AWD.

      Delete
  2. AWD is practically useless in daily urban commute, with all the shitty traffic - and a car at that. Nobody will take this car off road to make use of the AWD system with a suspension designed for a car. need AWD? get a forester instead. itching for a turbo? wait for the focus or civic.

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    Replies
    1. But for me, Need both? I will buy a Levorg instead.

      Delete
    2. here's the pot calling the kettle black. you might not get it so I'll put it simple terms. ikaw ang isip bata Veggie Absalon.

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    3. I drive an XV and every other soul would tell me i don need an AWD. Everytime my reaction is pretty much a smirk with a hint of how clueless he is. The thing with subaru is this: functional AWD you can drive everyday with fuel economy. my XV's fuel econ is better than HRV and yeah pretty much every crossover out there. So tell me, at same price point or even cheaper than an HRV, symmetrical AWD and overall better handling and design plus every subaru ia CBU Japan, which one would you choose? Oh btw i can take my XV offroading too if i need to. Cant say with other fwd crossovers out there. Same with Levorg. Look at the 6 vs this. Or the competitor. Tell me if they're equal in terms of features and versatilty. My money goes to levorg.

      Delete
    4. I drive an XV and every other soul would tell me i don need an AWD. Everytime my reaction is pretty much a smirk with a hint of how clueless he is. The thing with subaru is this: functional AWD you can drive everyday with fuel economy. my XV's fuel econ is better than HRV and yeah pretty much every crossover out there. So tell me, at same price point or even cheaper than an HRV, symmetrical AWD and overall better handling and design plus every subaru ia CBU Japan, which one would you choose? Oh btw i can take my XV offroading too if i need to. Cant say with other fwd crossovers out there. Same with Levorg. Look at the 6 vs this. Or the competitor. Tell me if they're equal in terms of features and versatilty. My money goes to levorg.

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    5. AWD has an other intention then 4x4. AWD let your car stick to the road in most conditions like gravel, rain, snow (you know the with stuff that falls out of the sky in Christmas movies) and distributes the power evenly on all 4 wheels and corrects were necessarily ... has little to do with off-road driving.

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    6. Nobody walks into a Subaru showroom thinking, "AWD is nice, but not necessary." One walks in there thinking "I'm tired of vanilla cars."

      Delete
  3. If a someone has the capacity to buy this, price is not an issue. AWD system does not necessarily mean it is for off-roading like a 4WD.

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  4. exactly the point. Why the AWD when a FWD is enough to do the job?.. As they say, dont buy a 10% car when you will be using it 90% of the time in urban commute. I love subarus - its just that an AWD is an overkill for a wagon. WRX is another issue of course. As for the price being not an issue then a thinking man will still go for the forester. It makes more sense.

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    1. What's the issue with AWD? So much hate. If you're hating on the levorg because of the AWD, then you should also hate on all the other vehicles that have AWD (and whatever other brands call it) like the RAV4, CRV, Fortuner 3.0 4x4, etc.

      Why buy a nice car when a cheap car will do the job? i.e. why buy a corolla when you can travel from point A to point B in a multicab?

      dumbasses

      Delete
    2. I drive an XV and every other soul would tell me i don need an AWD. Everytime my reaction is pretty much a smirk with a hint of how clueless he is. The thing with subaru is this: functional AWD you can drive everyday with fuel economy. my XV's fuel econ is better than HRV and yeah pretty much every crossover out there. So tell me, at same price point or even cheaper than an HRV, symmetrical AWD and overall better handling and design plus every subaru ia CBU Japan, which one would you choose? Oh btw i can take my XV offroading too if i need to. Cant say with other fwd crossovers out there. Same with Levorg. Look at the 6 vs this. Or the competitor. Tell me if they're equal in terms of features and versatilty. My money goes to levorg.

      Delete
    3. having owned an old legacy wagon before,its hard to explain to others the joy and security of driving an awd car.its not really designed for hardcore offroad use.but does have surefootedness on slippery and loose surface,then if u venture off to some ugly muddy roads that we have escpecially in the provinces,its nice to know that your car can get you through it. im not saying its head and shoulders better,its just different,the 6 is a good choice too. the end of the day to each his own. btw,my cousin drives an xv too.. im green with envy.....

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  5. I'll pass on this. I'll pick the Mazda 6 Sports Wagon over this anyday.

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    1. But for me, I'll pick the Levorg Over the Mazda 6 wagon FOREVER!

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    2. The Mazda 6 looks more modern and premium inside and out compared to the Levorg. More powerful 2.5L engine. 3 years free PMS, more fuel efficient, and a turbocharger strains the engine and lowers fuel economy. I won't be needing an AWD 95% of the time.

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    3. I think this guy, Mr. Richard Joash Tan is a special child. I searched for him on facebook and based on what I saw, I can conclude that there is indeed something clearly wrong with this guy's mental capacity. I blame his guardians, he shouldn't have access on the internet in the first place.

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    4. why don't you look in the mirror first before calling someone a freak? facebook stalking freak!

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    5. Yeah, I'm pretty sure I'm normal. I've seen Mr Richard Joash Tan in other websites too, screaming "you are bull***" to other people. He should not be granted access to the internet, all he does is create trouble. Clearly he is a "special" child, I wonder why his guardians or parents are allowing him do whatever he wants freely. His parents must be in denial, thinking this guy is normal. That rationale is counter-intuitive in my opinion. parents should accept their child's mental capacity.

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    6. My guardian left years ago because I want to take care of myself.

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    7. Mr. Richard Joash Tan, you want to take care of yourself but with your special condition, it's clear that you are unable to do so. You can't even control your appetite. You NEED a guardian. Have your parents get you one if they can't take care of you all of the time.

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    8. Richard Joash Tan NEEDS to be recycled........ You are a wastage.

      Delete
    9. Richard Joash Tan NEEDS to be recycled........ You are a wastage.

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    10. To Jee.....SHUT UP!!! don't you dare call him a wastage....you're discriminating a special child...If I were you....I wouldn't call him like that....'coz whenever I saw a special child getting abused or bullied by somebody else...It pisses me off really bad.....keep your words in your mind...otherwise karma strikes back....so let him be....

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  6. Why do i get the subie fanboy vibe from uly

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  7. This will kill the mazda6 wagon. It has a 1.6 turbo engine. economy on daily driving. with extra juice when you needed. 4wd is useful in urban living esp if you live in a condominium. Wet rainy days often make the ramps slide. a little bit ground clearance will be better though. but i like the sedan low ride vs suv

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  8. this is an ugly car

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  9. "anonymous" comments should be banned here in CarGuide.PH. parang ung dating topgearph..masyadong madaming experts.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Since all Subaru reviews on this site are suspect because of the author's self-admitted bias, let's enumerate some of the negatives common to all Subaru vehicles, not just this souped-up mommy wagon.

    1.) Certified oil guzzler. Boxer engines consume 1L of motor oil per month, as stated by Subaru itself in the owner's manual. This is considered "normal". So if you want to maintain a car like it is a primitive 2-stroke motorcycle, this is your choice.

    2.) Permanent AWD is also a permanent strain on the powertrain components, reducing long-term reliability and increasing maintenance costs. Most people won't need it most of the time. What you need in this country is high ground clearance, higher driving position, and larger cabin and cargo space.

    3.) Turbocharged vehicles are also another potential maintenance nightmare in the long-term. Very hot turbines spinning at 120,000-150,000 RPM in tropical heat isn't exactly the best combination.

    4.) Out-of-warranty/out-of-case maintenance and repair for boxer engines are also questionable and potentially more expensive, even if you can find 3rd-party talyers who can maintain and fix these niche engines.

    5.) Few dealerships, costly spare parts and hard-to-find accessories. If you live in QC, you have to go to Greenhills or Fort Boni for regular PMS, those are the nearest casas from your location. :P

    So, sige bili pa more ng Subaru. Check back here in 3 years when your warranty expires.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. #1, 2 and 3 are false.

      Delete
    2. I will bili pa more ng Subaru.

      It's a personal choice, if it's my choice my preferred car, why would I listen to others. I hate it when people tell others what they must and mustn't buy it's like telling them what they can and can't do.

      Who are you to tell me?

      Delete
  11. ^ you obviously haven't owned a subaru before.

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    1. I completely disagree. Maintenance cost is comparable with other Jap brands.

      PMS doesn't take that long, will probably take one day, max, if you call in for schedule.

      In the four years I own a subaru , not even a repair was done.

      You have to own one to know one, objectively speaking.

      Delete
    2. My forester 2.0 pms at php7k every 10k kms. Php25k when you reach 40k kms. Casa price. My ofcmates 1.4 accent pms php6k every 5k kms and php18k when reaching 40k kms. Surprising huh

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    3. My forester 2.0 pms at php7k every 10k kms. Php25k when you reach 40k kms. Casa price. My ofcmates 1.4 accent pms php6k every 5k kms and php18k when reaching 40k kms. Surprising huh

      Delete
  12. False daw. Try reading your owner's manual first before even driving your Subaru, fanb0i. I can even quote you the exact page and section, but I don't wanna spoonfeed fanb0i kiddies like you. Dangerous for kiddies to operate any motor vehicle without even opening theier car's user manuals. No wonder there are lots of id1ots on the road causing accidents...

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    1. Never have I encountered an issue with adding oil to the engine every month. Do you own a Subaru and have real world experience or are your claims just based on the manual? If you don't own a Subaru, then STFU.

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    2. I own a '94 Honda Civic. I travel once or twice a week. I put around 2 liters of engine oil in a month.

      I'd get a Subaru, I think I can afford 1L of oil monthly.

      Delete
    3. Have your Civic's engine gaskets checked if you are putting in 2L of oil a month. LOL. Thanks for confirming that Subarus are oil guzzlers like primitive 2-stroke motorcycle engines.

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    4. It's not the cost of oil that is an issue, it's the amount. Most engines need 4-6L for proper operation, so losing 1L a month, every month, is 25% of the engine capacity already. That's how leaky and blowby-prone these boxer engines are. Just Google: "Subaru excessive oil consumption issue" and you literally get thousands of hits!

      Delete
  13. Hi Mr. Ang,

    My wife and I scrutinized the Levorg when we dropped by the Subaru showroom to get a quote on the Legacy. We both agreed that the interior of the Levorg kinda reminds us of the CLA. It feels premium inside. That's a good thing since subarus aren't really known for the quality of its interiors. I'm 6'1" and with the driver's seat adjusted for my height, someone of the same height can still sit comfortably in the rear. Tight, but comfortable. My wife commented that if she were 10 years younger, she'd love to have it as a daily driver. I told her that she'd have to fight me for it. That AWD system is also an added safety feature for young families who like going out of town. I can imagine that it would help stability or just increase one's confidence in the car when going up to Baguio or down to the beaches of Morong from Subic or when on a dive trip to Anilao using the Talisay road from Tagaytay. For people who need the space but are not yet into SUVs the Levorg is an option.

    ReplyDelete