Friday, July 13, 2018

The 2018 Subaru Levorg 1.6 GT-S is the Enthusiast's Car for Real Life

Where’s the fun if your car just sits in the garage 90 percent of time, immobile, just because it’s impractical. Where’s the fun if the only place you can drive it is on the open highway because the city roads can’t give you the feel that you crave? The fun in driving starts with a car that has the power to be pushed to its limits, but remains relevant and functional for everyday life. This is where the Subaru Levorg comes in (read here for our in-depth review).

Dubbed as “the rally car for real life,” we took the Levorg 1.6 GT-S to the streets of Manila for five days—through the traffic-ridden metro and even to the open highway to see if it was really what people said it was: a functional daily driver with a performance edge.

At 170 horsepower, the Levorg would be the most powerful car I would have driven. With that, the first thing that entered my mind was: how easy would it be to control; and second, can it perform just as well in the city as it does on the open road?

From the onset, the Levorg was a rush. It does take a few hundred meters to get used to it, but like it I did. Both the brakes and the accelerator were responsive, but above all, they were easy to modulate. It allowed me to build up speed (to the maximum 60 km/h on Macapagal Avenue) with no abrupt jolts. Plus, the brakes were confidence-inspiring, allowing me to slow down appropriately when needed.

And unlike something I gather from the likes of a WRX STI, the Levorg doesn’t feel unhinged. Its performance was never on and off; never bipolar. Its performance level remains more or less at par whether I was driving on village roads, weaving in and out of EDSA traffic, or cruising on the highway on the way out of town. With the Levorg, it becomes a matter of how far you dare push it, not whether it can or cannot push back.

The week I had the Levorg was one of the wettest weeks yet for Manila and this afforded me to sample Subaru’s famed Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive outside the typical closed course slalom or test track. It always felt balanced with smoothness and stability both dialed in very well. Surprisingly, it also felt weightier—perhaps more so than the Subaru XV—giving it a driving experience not too far off from a typical German-made car. Those ingredients coupled with the excellent visibility all-around made it a very easy car to drive and master.

Apart from its approachable performance and solid handling, what really tips the scales for me is the wagon body style. Wagons, I believe, should be given more credit. Not only do they give proper car-like handling and feel, but they return interior space rivaling any popular SUV. Despite the Levorg’s compact nature, it can hold 1,446 liters of cargo without having to fold down any of the seats. In that regard, it’s just as functional as Subaru’s own Forester, but perhaps a tad better to drive.

Of course, being a bit smaller than the Forester means that passengers are treated to ample, but not exactly cavernous levels of space. Based off the WRX, the legroom is noticeably tighter front or back, even compared to something like a Subaru XV. That’s a bit of a problem because given its price, I would have expected space something along the lines of an executive sedan—perhaps something like a Legacy.

Despite its tighter than average creature space, for all intents, the Levorg has certainly left an impression that it’s a great all-rounder. It’s certainly demonstrated what Subaru meant by it being a “rally car designed for the real world.”

It may have less power than the WRX or Forester XT, but it certainly has the functionality and usability that eclipses the former and can easily match the latter. It’s certainly designed with the enthusiast in mind—the person who enjoys the drive and craves for that consistent, powerful performance. That, while functionality is a priority, there has to be a compromise of being able to satisfy his love for driving. And in that regard, the Subaru Levorg 1.6 GT-S did its job.

Words and Photos by Gen Tiu


  1. Subaru, give us the damn 2.0L Levorg already! Jusko!!!!!

    1. too bad its a couple of years (or more) too late. ako rin tagal ko naghintay, at nag move on na ako. now the levorg looks dated, even if it has the wrx engine in it.

    2. Agree, in my case bagsak ko XT. Don't judge me I have 3 kids with ginormous school bags w/ 6 wheels lol.

  2. "At 170 horsepower, the Levorg would be the most powerful car I would have driven."

    Yet, the author also says...

    "And unlike something like a WRX STI, the Levorg doesn’t feel unhinged."

    How did the author knew how a WRX STI feels like to drive when the most powerful car the author has driven is a 170hp Levorg???

    1. Good point, but I think the behavior the WRX STI is well-documented.

    2. Also noticed that it is contradictory. And now Uly's response vague as well. What's happening to this site...

  3. Is the ride and handling better than the 4th gen Legacy sir Uly? Not sure it we should upgrade ours because I think the Legacy is rarer and could go up in value.

    1. While I personally like the 4th-gen Legacy, I wouldn't say that it's collectible.

      It's been a while since I've driven that Legacy model, but from what I remember, the Legacy has the upper hand when it comes to ride, but the Levorg's better when it comes to handling. What I do remember is that the Legacy had poor support from its seats...the Levorg is clearly better in that regard.

      Naturally, because of the Levorg's turbo, it feels better to drive while the Legacy's 2.0-liter NA needs to be pushed.

  4. We have now disabled anonymous comments from now on. Everyone is now required to tie their comments to a Google Account. If you want to know who to thank for this, it's the whiny guy who's comparing the Legacy to a Lamborghini.


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