Text: Inigo S. Roces / Photos: Inigo S. Roces | posted February 18, 2016 17:25
Remaking the cult-classic
Say station wagon and an image of the beige, Swedish-made variety may come to mind. Yet for those that adore the body style, the more sporty variety, like those made by Audi, Mercedes-Benz, and Subaru may be more familiar.
Many of these classics are slowly being phased out by the crossover SUV. In Subaru, however, it is alive and well. Proof of this is their latest example, the Subaru Levorg.
The vehicle's unusual name is an amalgam of Legacy, Revolution, and Touring, meant to nod to the cult-classic Legacy as well as its sporty aspirations. There's certainly no doubt of that with its aggressive looks, hood scoop and low stance. Side skirts, a spoiler, 18 inch wheels, and a rear diffuser are part of the package.
As the appearance suggests, the Levorg is based on the WRX platform, though many changes have been made to accommodate the body style. For one, it has a much longer wheelbase, and the independent rear suspension has been tweaked to handle the extra weight.
Inside, the interior features a blend of both sport and luxury touches. The driver is treated to a thick, flat-bottomed steering wheel with paddle shifters. Seats have a sporty and well bolstered shape, but are wrapped in leatherette and fabric. The dashboard is wrapped in soft-touch plastic, silver accents and piano black inserts.
True to the sporty aspiration, the driver's seat and steering wheel offer a great deal of adjustment. The dial features two large dials joined by a multi-info display in the center. More info can be gleamed from the top center of the dashboard, which can be toggled to show fuel consumption, traction, trip info, and entertainment and climate options. The only thing absent is the large boost gauge display the WRX had.
Entertainment is presented in a beautifully flush touch screen LCD panel, with volume and tuning dials and soft touch buttons. As is expected with all Subarus, audio quality is top notch. Lower on the console is the climate, adjusted by three dials. Space on the center divider has been freed up thanks to the new electronic parking brake, at the cost of teenage J-turn shenanigans. Other passenger amenities include a sunroof, two power outlets, and as many as six USB slots.
In the second row is a bench with a drop-down armrest and 60-40 split folding capability. Behind that is the cavernous cargo area with more than enough space for the entire family's weekend bags. There's a retractablle tonneau cover as well as handles to drop down the seats closer to the tailgate. Floor compartments hide the spare tire and toolbox.
Just like the dual aspirations of the car, the drive can be both sporty or luxurious. Left in intelligent mode, power delivery is a little slower and more conscientious, feeling a little sluggish at times. The electronic power steering conveniently adjusts to the vehicle speed, making itself light for parking maneuvers and getting progressively heavier with speed. In spite of the low stance, the ride is actually very comfortable, absorbing bumps very well without too much roll.
Switch the car into sport mode and it's like a whole other vehicle. The engine response is livelier and performs best when kept between 4,000 and 6,000 rpm, where the turbo can keep spooling. The CVT avoids the slipping clutch feeling by simulating a gear and actually "shifting" several times. The suspension may be on the soft side, but maintains stability well and returns a planted feeling to the driver on curves. It takes some serious effort to make the all-wheel drive system lose step. Finally, the brakes are strong and reassuring, with traction control and ABS and EBD always watching.
The car is treat to drive either way, though many will want more power than 1.6-liter turbo can offer, particularly in the low rev ranges. Nonetheless, the choice of a smaller powerplant pays dividends in the fuel consumption department. The Levorg racked up 7.7 km/L in the city in heavy traffic. In the highway, it notched up 13 km/L but keeps revs at a comparatively high 2,000 rpm at 100 km/h.
Anyone looking for a practical, comfortable but fun to drive car will find a lot to like in the Levorg. The low stance may pose a problem for some or could score extra points with the more youthful crowd. Best of all, that cavernous rear is both practical and serves as the perfect sleeper disguise. It could definitely use more power to really be a cult-classic.