Subaru have long been one of my favourite cars but are not really appreciated in this country outside a few aficionados, one of whom was my late great friend the PR guru Jim Rowe who bought a Subaru Forester in 1999 to cope with life in rural Cavan.
I was thinking of Jim and great days I had with him and his wife Evelyn and dogs and horses when I returned the latest version of the Subaru XV to the car’s small Irish HQ based on the National Vehicle Distribution site at Baldonnel.
I had taken the previous version of the XV up to Cavan six years ago where it appeared very modern compared to the Forester which Evelyn still had 10 years after Jim’s death. The XV is getting even better and is absolutely packed with spec including its revolutionary EyeSight system that uses two digital stereo cameras to monitor traffic movement to apply pre-collision braking as well as giving driving awareness systems, cruise controls and ability to keep in line with the car in front.
The car has great comfort – oodles of room for five, legendary off-road ability and a real feeling of being sturdily well-built.
It is let down by its powerful Boxer engines which sound a bit harsh and have heavy consumption. However, that is all going to change very soon. Subaru has long been in partnership with Toyota and is importing the latter’s hybrid system next year. So good is the Toyota system that the manufacturer’s outlets are complaining there’s not enough going wrong to keep their workshops busy.
Bringing in the hybrids could be a massive boost for Subaru. However, they are still very tasty and if you put the €33,495 starting price of the XV, or even the range topping €38,495 20i SE Premium Lineartronic CVT Automatic, against any of its competitors, you will be pleasantly surprised. It’s a marque that can be easily overlooked but definitely shouldn’t be. It offers prestige, style and sets you apart from the hordes.
When I was out at Subaru it was sad to hear that the Subaru chief in Ireland Neville Matthews is still very sick. Neville is a wonderful man, a true professional and amazingly good company. I have great memories of some brilliant times with him and his one-time Subaru sidekick Michael Kirby. I will raise a glass to Neville this weekend wishing him and his family all the very best.