Just testing: Subaru Levorg 2.0i GT Lineartronic

Want to rediscover your love of driving? Tim Gibson reckons Subaru’s latest grand tourer is a good place to start

By Tim Gibson

It’s a crystal clear evening in the countryside. I’m leaving a late meeting in the middle of nowhere, and the road is empty. It’s a twisting A-road, full of beautiful bends and crisp cambers. The sort of road that just begs to be driven.

    It’s like someone has snuck out and painted glue on the tyres. They just won’t give up their grip.  

And, boy, have I got the car to drive it in: the new Subaru Levorg. A 2.0-litre petrol-powered grand tourer that looks every inch the spiritual successor to the super-fast Imprezas whose DNA it shares.

To be clear, it’s not the fastest car by any stretch. The engine generates 148bhp, which isn’t a huge output. But Subaru’s symmetrical all-wheel drive set-up makes perfect use of every single one of those horses. It’s like someone has snuck out and painted glue on the tyres. They just won’t give up their grip.

All of which makes for a thrilling experience. It’s not so much that you drive the Levorg quickly. I don’t think I break the speed limit once during my absorbing drive home. But the razor-sharp handling and astonishing poise mean you feel every bend and, yes, can take them a bit more briskly than in a conventional family car.

I’ll be honest. I’d forgotten how much I love driving until I piloted the Levorg for a week. I don’t think there was a single journey that didn’t end with me taking a detour, just to add a few minutes to my time behind the wheel. Likewise, I made sure every trip incorporated at least one country road. I think it would have been rude not to.

This is the sort of car on which Subaru built its reputation in the 1990s: a dependable estate with a decent-sized boot and plenty of room for the whole family, but offering the sort of driving experience that would keep any hot-hatch-loving boy racer on their toes.

Indeed, if you grew up as I did hankering after a gold-wheeled Impreza WRX, the Levorg is a pleasing trip down memory lane. It’s like turning on the radio to hear Oasis blaring out. Or popping home and opening the fridge to see it full of pork pies and Scotch eggs. Takes you right back to your youth, summoning all the emotions and excitements of the past.

And here’s the thing: because, for most of us, the Impreza WRX was just a dream. Even if we could afford to buy one, the cost of insuring it put it way beyond reach. So we made do with our souped-up Golfs and Escorts, longing for the day when we became respectable grown-ups whose car insurance premiums didn’t run into the thousands of pounds.

    Where it’s in a class of its own, though, is in delivering sheer driving pleasure.  

Now, that day has come. And the Levorg represents the acceptable face of our teenage longing. It’s a smart family car, one that looks perfectly at home in the office car park. It’s practical, safe (very safe, thanks to a dizzying array of active safety features) and hugely comfortable. In fact, you can see that Subaru benchmarks itself against Volvo when it comes to all three of these features.

Where it’s in a class of its own, though, is in delivering sheer driving pleasure. Honestly, it’s brilliant. Just a dream come true.

Okay, so it’s fairly thirsty (I averaged 32mpg during a week of mixed-use, but with a lot of motorway work) and the interior isn’t a patch on more premium offerings. And some will find the styling a bit weird, as is always the way with Japanese cars.

Oh, and the heated seats either burn your backside to smithereens on high setting or deliver less warmth than a rabbit’s fart on low setting.

These niggles aside, the Levorg is a winner. And, once you’re piloting it along a quiet country road, you’ll forgive it anything. It’s sublime. Totally sublime.

That’s what I think as I career along on my way home, at any rate. In that moment, I can’t think of a car in the world I’d rather be driving. Not a Bentley or a Porsche or a Mercedes-Benz can match the Levorg for the base pleasure it delivers. A bit like Oasis, really: flawed, absolutely, but impossible to resist.

On test

  • Subaru Levorg 2.0i GT Lineartronic
  • 148BHP
  • 62mpg combined (official figures)
  • 0-62mph in 8.6 seconds
  • 167g/km CO2 emissions
  • Price: £30,995 on the road

Tim Gibson has written about cars for 25 years. His work regularly appears in The Daily Telegraph and other national media.

© 2019 Just Recruitment Group Ltd

Published: 16 December 2019

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