Subaru Levorg: performance and practicality
Today, we are spoiled for choice. With so many cars to choose from plus low financing rates means buying your next car has never been easier.
Throw in the sales promos manufacturers churn out and it becomes ever more enticing.
Unfortunately, the one segment that’s been rather slow on the take is the station wagon or estate body-style.
I remember two decades ago, station wagons were more plenty. It was the stylish and practical choice of motorists a generation (or two) past.
Today, that practical choice has become the SUV, pickup (which has also turned into a lifestyle choice), and MPV.
Wagons had become too much of a daddy-car—not cool, hip, trendy or stylish.
Fortunately today, this is slowly changing. We have the Mazda 6 wagon, Peugeot 308 SW, Subaru Levorg, and just recently, which is proving to be Volkswagen’s runaway sales success, the Golf GTS Estate.
Funny how trends come and go. If you consider the indent-order premium German offerings from Audi (RS4 and RS6 Avants) and Mercedes-Benz (C- and E-Class Estates), plus the upcoming Panamera Sport Turismo shooting brake (a classy name for station wagon) from Porsche, then things truly become interesting.
The Levorg, though, is more on performance, followed by style rather than out-and-out practicality.
The rear seats are on the compact side, and the boot isn’t as wide or tall as other vehicle types in the same price range, including 7-seater diesel SUVs.
Having said that, it’s still going to be far more practical and versatile than an equivalent sedan stablemate.
For starters, you have 486 liters of cargo space with the rear seats up, bigger than a Subaru Forester.
Drop the 60:40 split-folding rear seats, and you end up with an enormous 1,446 liters.
The only issue I see is that the width versus height of the Levorg’s rear isn’t as useful in terms of dimensions. In real world situations, big bulky objects will be a tad difficult to fit in.
If you’re picking up guests from the airport though, multiple suitcases are perfect in the back.
But if you plan on going for a long trip with five adults on board, that’s going to be tough. Headroom is low, foot space is quite cramped at the back if you wear anything bigger than a size 9, and you’ll feel a bit constricted if you’re taller than 5 feet 10 inches, and have a waistline more than 36 inches.
Yep, I filled it up with some friends to find out how comfortable things are before going sketchy.
Still, for the vast majority of motorists where the car is rarely filled with more than three people, the Levorg has all the versatility you and I will ever need, in a unique, stylish and discerning package.
Power comes from a 1.6-liter turbocharged and direct-injected gasoline engine that delivers 170 hp and 250 Newton meters of torque for all four wheels via Subaru’s Lineartronic HD CVT transmission and symmetrical all-wheel drive.
The Levorg shares almost 90 percent of all its key parts with the fourth generation Impreza, with the biggest difference being the body style and panels, plus most of the bits you can see and touch. Underneath the skin, they are practically the same.
The Levorg rides on stylish 18-inch wheels shod with Bridgestone REO50A 225/45R18 high-performance tires.
Ride is a bit firm, even harsh at times, but that just tells you of the Levorg’s more serious intent.
Brakes are excellent, but could use a bit more firmness in pedal feel, while the steering, though accurate, feels a bit disconnected at dead center.
But you see, I’m giving my verdict on these minute details focusing on how a fine-tuned driver-oriented car the Levorg is.
Yes, the Levorg, more than anything, feels like a serious driver’s car. It’s fast, fun and responsive, a perfect tool for fast, winding A-roads, highways and even bumpy B-roads, such as the infamous “Tanayburgring,” that loop around Rizal via Marcos Highway with its varying surfaces, changing weather conditions and challenging turns, much like the equally infamous Nordschleife of the Nurburgring in Germany.
High praise indeed for what could have been considered an uncool “Daddy-mobile” if it had been launched a few years earlier.
This Levorg should be fun on a fast sweeping track as well. I can imagine it being barrels full of fun on the long track of the Clark International Speedway.
Steering feel improves immensely as you wind up the lock, and the rear follows the front faithfully and predictably, even on decreasing radius corners you misjudged by a mile.
The brakes offer fade-free performance, and the suspension is more than up to the task of controlling the Levorg’s top-heavy wagon body.
At very high speeds, the rear becomes a tad jumpy, the fronts get a bit floaty, and power tapers off towards redline.
Not to worry, as the Levorg is amply supported by the aftermarket. And Subaru is one of the very few brands in the country that has a rather open-minded attitude about tuning and modifying.
I’ve seen some locally tuned Levorgs where power increases by almost 50 percent after just a careful selection of bolt-on performance parts, a boost-up, and of course tuning the ECU to extract maximum horsepower safely.
Therein lies the beauty of the Levorg. It has almost the entire performance potential of a WRX, and about the same versatility as a Forester in a more stylish, compact and unique (not to mention smaller) exterior.
The small engine helps deliver better fuel efficiency (roughly 8.7 km/L in the city and 14 km/L on the highway cruising at a steady 95-110 kph).
The smaller footprint means you can easily cut across traffic and squeeze your Levorg in a tight parking slot.
Subaru’s Levorg proves that you can have an exciting, engaging daily driver that offers just the right amount of versatility, without going for an SUV or even a crossover. Definitely a winner.