Thursday, February 7, 2019

Review: 2019 Subaru Levorg 2.0 GT-S


The death of the turbocharged Forester has left a gaping hole in the hearts of car enthusiasts everywhere. Where now can we get our daily adrenaline fix while still being able to justify to our wives or girlfriends that “it’s practical; it just so happens to be fast too?” Well, don’t fear, because that very same reasoning applies to the 2019 Subaru Levorg 2.0 GT-S. It’s one practical car; it just so happens to be fast too.

Before the demise of the Forester XT, the Levorg sat in a no-man’s land. For all intents and purposes, it was a WRX with a wagon (or Touring, if you prefer the European term) back-end attached to it. Yet, with a small displacement turbo (a 1.6-liter lest you forget), it wasn’t particularly fast. And because the Forester XT sat just P 100,000 above it, people simply forked more cash to get the more powerful, more practical, more “bang-for-the-buck” one.



Now though, the tables have turned. In a coup, Subaru opted to throw out the one-point-six and in its place is the two-point-oh from the WRX. They could have pumped the output to 240 horsepower and be done with it. Instead, they’ve gone all out and, angels be praised, gifted this one 265 horses and 350 Nm of torque. And at P 1,998,000, makes the WRX completely unnecessary.

That’s not to say it drives like a WRX, though. In fact, it’s better. See, the WRX is focused on being the Subaru sports sedan. Yes, it can be daily driven, but it’s also got a lot of heritage to live up to. A heritage where the steering’s got to be hefty and the suspension, bouncy. The Levorg doesn’t have that baggage. Thus, the tiller’s lighter and the ride, more pliant. It’s still not going to give a traditional executive sedan a run for its money, but it’s more forgiving; especially on the pothole-ridden C5 Rally Stage. Instead of having the passengers move up and down like bobble heads, they’re treated like actual human beings now. Plus, with thinner tires (225/45 R 18 as opposed to the WRX’s 245/40 R 18), it’s easier to do things like three-point turns.



Trudging along EDSA is one thing, but tackling sweeping mountain bends is another. Can the Levorg deliver here too? Absolutely. It may give up a bit in terms of immediacy vis-à-vis driver inputs, but adjusted for, it can take on the same sort of roads a WRX can. While the ‘Rex may have the advantage on anything that’s billiard table smooth, the Levorg’s softer suspension allows it to ride through undulations (which is basically every road in the Philippines), giving it the ability to change direction in a smoother manner.

For everything that’s great with the Levorg, it does lose out in one department: the engine, and it’s not because it’s slow or anything. In fact, the engine is great. It’s smooth and provides a satisfying amount of shove each and every time the accelerator’s pressed down. It’s also, surprisingly for a turbo, rev-happy. What’s missing here is the manly gruff commonly associated with a Boxer engine. Admittedly, that’s a bit immature and probably unfitting for its brief as an everyday car, but if you think the WRX is already too quiet; this one’s even quieter. One place you won’t miss the engine’s character though is at the pump. As expected, the fuel economy figures are close to its sports sedan sibling: 6.94 km/L.



Styling-wise, there’s not much to say about the Levorg. It’s a WRX with a wagon grafted at the back. But while Subaru’s stylists left nothing to the imagination, at least they’ve started to offer a bit more differentiation inside. Compared to the ‘Rex with its racy red stitching and carbon fiber dash motif, the Levorg tries goes more upscale. There’s blue stitching on the steering wheel and seats, and oh, there’s much more chrome and aluminum accents in here too. Overall though, it still doesn’t score high in aesthetics. It’s plain, functional, and thankfully, straightforward to operate.

The Levorg may have bucket seats upfront, but compared to the WRX, they’re mounted higher. This gives unmatched levels of visibility all around (a typical Subaru trademark), but without any tint on this demo unit, it makes me feel I’m driving naked. Unlike most other cars, the window sill is much lower and the greenhouse much bigger. But hey, at least those awkward three-quarter front windows do their job. Oh, and the air conditioning can tackle the heat, no sweat (no pun intended).



Bummer though that there are still no vents for the rear seats, because the space here is quite usable, at least for two adults. It’s not kingly per se (maybe more princely), but at least fitting two normal adults is possible and each one even gets their own USB charging port. As indicated by the two charging ports at the back, fitting three in the rear bench will cause a riot. Oh, but at least the cargo hold is genuinely useful thanks to minimal protrusions. The opening isn’t as generous, but fitting a golf set shouldn’t be too difficult. Oh, and there are underfloor compartments too; perfect to stow away tools, the warning triangle, and other miscellaneous stuff.

Finally, I get to the biggest update in the 2019 Levorg aside from the engine—and no, it’s not Apple CarPlay, but that’s a great addition as well. I’m referring to the EyeSight Driver Assist technology. Time and time again, Subaru’s outlined the merits of their stereoscopic camera and how it can prevent an accident, blah, blah, blah. It’s not something you appreciate, until it saves your life. And in my case, it did. After traffic lightened up one fine (late) evening, I decided to open the turbo up only to have an SUV suddenly swerve, without warning into my lane. The system detected the wayward Montero Sport, applied the brakes, prevented the accident, and everyone moved along. Consider me a believer, sir.



Oh, and it’s worth mentioning that the setup on the Levorg is slightly different too. Here, there’s a row of LED lights that act like a heads-up display of sorts. It projects green if it’s acquired a target vehicle during adaptive cruise control or low-speed follow; yellow if it’s detected any un-signaled lane departure; and red when you’re about to be fucked up. It’s simple, straight-forward, and wonderful. Did I mention that it saved my life?

Okay, so where does the Levorg stand now? With the Forester XT gone (or going since Subaru still has stocks), there are only a few places where one can get his fix for some exhaust gas-driven go-faster voodoo magic. There’s the WRX and its burlier brother, the WRX STI. Without a doubt, they’re great, but they’re also tiring and for someone who’s about to reach 40, a tad too juvenile. Then, there’s the Levorg 2.0 GT-S. It’s basically a WRX that’s easier to drive, with better suspension, and more cargo room. Oh, and let’s not forget, it’s cheaper too. At this point, everything stacks in favor of this newcomer. Pedigree be damned, it’s Levorg > WRX.




2019 Subaru Levorg 2.0 GT-S
Ownership 2019 Subaru Levorg 2.0 GT-S
Year Introduced 2016 (Refreshed: 2018)
Vehicle Classification Executive Car
Warranty 3 years / 100,000 kilometers
The Basics
Body Type 5-door wagon
Seating 5
Engine / Drive F/AWD
Under the Hood
Displacement (liters) 2.0
Aspiration Turbocharged
Fuel Delivery Direct Injection
Layout / # of Cylinders F4
BHP @ rpm 265 @ 5,600
Nm @ rpm 350 @ 2,400-5,200
Fuel / Min. Octane Gasoline / 95~
Transmission CVT
Cruise Control Yes, Adaptive, with Low Speed Follow (EyeSight)
Fuel Economy @ Ave. Speed 6.94 km/L @ 16 km/h
Dimensions and Weights
Length (mm) 4,690
Width (mm) 1,780
Height (mm) 1,490
Wheelbase (mm) 2,650
Curb Weight (kg) 1,582
Suspension and Tires
Front Suspension Independent, MacPherson Strut
Rear Suspension Independent, Double Wishbone
Front Brakes Vented Disc
Rear Brakes Vented Disc
Tires Bridgestone Potenza RE050A 225/45 R 18 W (f & r)
Wheels Alloy
Safety Features
Airbags 7
Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS) Yes, with EBD
Traction / Stability Control Yes
Parking Sensors No, with Rear Camera
Front Seatbelts 3-pt ELR with pre-tensioner x 2
Rear Seatbelts 3-pt ELR x 3
ISOFIX Child Seat Anchor Yes
Other Safety Features Hill Start Assist
Tire Pressure Monitoring System
Blind Spot Indicators
Rear Cross-Traffic Alert
Pre-Collision Braking System
Lane Sway and Departure Warning
Pre-Collision Throttle Management
Exterior Features
Headlights LED, Active
Fog Lamps Yes, Front (LED) and Rear
Auto Lights Yes
Rain-sensing Wipers Yes
Interior Features
Steering Wheel Adjust Tilt/Telescopic
Steering Wheel Material Leather
Seating Adjustment (driver) Electric, 8-way
Seating Adjustment (front passenger) Manual, 4-way
Seating Surface Leather
Folding Rear Seat Yes, 60/40
On-Board Computer Yes
Convenience Features
Power Steering Yes
Power Door Locks Yes
Power Windows Yes
Power Mirrors Yes, with Fold
Proximity Key Yes
Climate Control Yes, Dual Zone
Audio System Stereo
CD
Aux
USB
Bluetooth
Apple CarPlay
Android Auto
# of Speakers 6
Steering Controls Yes

5 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Compared to the WRX, the Levorg is quieter.

      Compared to other sedans though, and there's still some audible tire noise. Aside from that, it's reasonably quiet.

      Delete
  2. still harman kardon speakers?

    ReplyDelete