2016 Subaru Levorg 1.6i GT DIT Sport Tourer Lineartronic long-term review – Update 1

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Update 1: 17th October– 23rd November 2016

Start milage on clock: 19,660 | Miles covered this update: 1,017 | Average (UK) mpg: Town: 24 – 26 mpg | Motorway: 40 – 44.7 mpg | Mixed routes: 33 – 37 mpg

Subaru Levorg, bit of strange moniker that. After all, traditionally (at least for the most part) Subaru’s models have been named straightforwardly; Forester, Outback, Legacy. So what does Levorg mean? To quote Subaru; Levorg is a name steeped in Subaru Heritage. Created from a combination of ‘Legacy’, ‘Revolution’ and ‘Touring’, names previously used on the brand’s idiosyncratic Boxer-engined symmetrical all-wheel-drive sport tourers.” There you have it.

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I’ve been sent the Levorg for a three month loan, in order to see exactly what it’s like to live with on a daily basis over a proper period of time. As a bonus, the period partly covers winter up until mid-January 2017, and if I’m fortunate we may get some snow before then to test the now-famous Symmetrical all-wheel-drive system.

So, let’s start off with some facts and stats on the Subaru Levorg GT to bring you up to speed:

  • The Levorg effectively picks up where the forth generation Legacy Tourer (2003 to 2008) left off – it is a direct descendant in fact. 

  • The Levorg is classed as a Sport Tourer.

  • Levorg comes in one spec/trim level only (GT), with one engine and transmission and a choice of three colours; Crystal White Pearl, Lapis Blue Pearl, Steel Blue Grey Metallic – the latter being the colour of my test car.
  • Features a 1.6 litre, 4-cylinder ‘Boxer’ configuration turbocharged petrol engine with DIT (Direct Injection Turbo), developed specifically for the Levorg.
  • Power is 168 bhp from 4,800 – 5,600 rpm and 184 lb ft (250Nm) of torque between 1,800 – 4,800 rpm.
  • 0 – 62 mph in 8.9 seconds, 130 mph top speed.
  • Kerb weight: 1,554 kgs (3,426 lbs)
  • Gearbox is Subaru’s Lineartronic CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission).
  • Price currently: £27,495

Okay, so now we’ve got the basics out of the way, let’s start with something about this specific Subaru Levorg loaner. With almost 20,000 miles on the clock, at first I was a little disappointed this wouldn’t be some box-fresh vehicle, but I quickly realised the benefits of this.

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A car with higher milage, which I may add has been clocked by previous journalists – second only to the type of (ab)use a rental car gets – and therefore any problems should start to surface considering it’s been done in just a few months too.

When the Levorg was delivered though, it felt absolutely brand-new. No wear marks whatsoever on the leather seats, no scuffs on any of the trim or panels, and all buttons and controls looked like they’d never been used. Clearly, as with Subarus of the past, the interior does take heavy use in its stride.

From the off, I was a big fan of the exterior styling and design of the this new model. I like estate cars anyway, and especially so the Subarus – it’s a shape they always do very wel. The Levorg GT tourer has quite an aggressive front – something Subaru were striving after by basing the point end of it on the WRX STi, no bad thing there then!

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From a side-on view, the Levorg is low-slung and purposeful, with a high shoulder-line and slim windows, a roof spoiler sitting out sharply above the rear glass. 18″ alloy wheels with low-profile tyres finish of the sporty appearance nicely.

At the rear, I’d say this is Subaru through-and-through. A little fussy perhaps, but there’s no mistaking that big Subaru badge, large tail lights that sit proud of the bodywork to the sides, and a tailpipe poking out of each side too.

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I’ve only seen a couple of Levorg GTs on the road, and this car gets plenty of good attention from both other drivers and pedestrians, mostly guys who look to be in their twenties and thirties, perhaps. And rightly so, because I believe that after the BRZ this is Subaru’s best-looking car yet.

For a long time, the styling of Subarus became boring and lifeless – quite unappealing in fact, but I think the Levorg harks back to Subaru’s utterly cool estates, like the low-slung mid-nineties Legacy Estate GT-B twin-turbo (look it up), and the nineties Impreza WRX estates in their various guises.

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Okay, as this is the first month with the car, initial impressions obviously count. After sitting in the cabin for a while, finding out what all the buttons and switches do, setting up the touchscreen system and generally having a play with the car, it’s crystal-clear that the Levorg’s cabin is wayyyyy more refined than a lot of Subaru’s last-gen models.

Yes, you’d perhaps be right to say ‘that’s not hard to do’, becuase yes they were awash with knock-hard plastics, thin, cheap-looking trim pieces and any sign of where they’d tried to make an effort with silver-coloured trim, failed rather badly as it looked as cheap as the rest of the car. As a positive, the interiors actually wear incredibly well though, which suits owners using them as they should be – on farms, taking the dog out, getting back in after a muddy hike etc.

If you are an owner of an older Subaru, I’d say you’d be rather more than a little shocked getting into the new Levorg GT. While there’s a familiarity about it, the interior is *gasp* really rather refined! There’s nice contrast ‘Subaru blue’ stitching on the seats, dash, doors, armrests, centre console and elsewhere, and they’ve used leather just about everywhere they can inside, and the leather looks and feels high quality too.

I said the Levorg’s cabin does feel somewhat familiar to other models in the range, and it does, thanks to the control layout, the info screen on the centre of the dash, and some trim pieces looks similar too.

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The thing is, Subaru’s buyer base is apparently – and unsurprisingly – one made up of customers loyal to the brand, but also ones that will use the cars for what they were intended for; getting out and about in bad weather thanks to the AWD, perhaps based in more rural areas, and the estates are thoroughly practical for taking the dog/s out, chucking your camping/hiking/outdoor sports gear in, and getting where you need to be in both comfort and without worrying about breaking down.

Becuase of this, I think Subaru have wanted to keep a certain degree of familiarity to please their previous customers, and that comes in the form of things like the chunky, old-school heated seat switches, large scroller dials for the climate control – both perfect for gloved hands –  and thick plastic trim on the lower doors that wouldn’t flinch when being opened with a shove from a big climbing boot. And I like that about the Levorg – while new and more refined, it’s clearly retained something lacking in the majority of cars today; character.

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I’ll go over the interior in more detail in the next update, but for now standout points inside include the 7-inch touchscreen called the Subaru Starlink infotainment system, which not only physically looks neat thanks to the piano black surround with integrated touch-sensitive controls, but it also has great graphics, driver-friendly menus, a highly clear reverse camera and a Starlink app which links to your phone and gives live updates on weather, news and a music section.

The two-stage heated front seats are a big bonus at this time of year, and I like the way the whole think lights up at night. Modern, simplistic yet effective. More to come on the interior next time, including the seating comfort, practicality and other points you’ll need to know if you’re looking at buying a Levorg.

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Drive-wise, between myself and another driver, we’ve covered a shade over a thousand miles this update, and we’re both in agreement that it drives beautifully. I’m not a huge fan of CVT transmissions, but Subaru’s Lineartronic version is not only incredibly smooth in full automatic, but they’ve thought to add a bit of life into it by allowing for a downshift engine breaking feel – something not done too often on CVTs.

The 1.6 turbocharged Boxer petrol engine is honestly a superb unit, and while on paper the power, torque and acceleration aren’t too impressive, it’s actually much quicker than I anticipated, and so exceptionally silky-smooth – thanks to that aforementioned Boxer configuration – that it’s not only a joy to drive, but you can barely hear it at any revs, while at tickover noise and vibration are just about zero. So much so that at idle and low speeds we’ve had passengers question if we’ve actually started the engine, and ask if it’s a hybrid.

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For this update, the things I’ve still not got fully used to are; there seems to be more road noise coming through the front than I would expect from a new car, I suspect mainly becuase of the low profile (225/45/R18) tyres on those 18″ wheels. On that, the suspension seems overly firm, something especially noticeable at lower speeds and when you’re travelling on a typical poorly-maintained UK city road.

However, the Subaru Levorg handles really very nicely indeed, and can absolutely call itself a sport tourer, as that’s exactly what it is. Average fuel economy in the city seems to be around 24/26 mpg. On a motorway run though, we’re actually achieving Subaru’s official stats at almost 45 mpg, which I think is fine. More on the handling and drive in the next update.

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Thinking of buying a Subaru Levorg, have questions about it or simply want to share thoughts on your own? Leave a comment using the form below! 

Model (as tested)  2016 Subaru Levorg 1.6i GT DIT Sport Tourer Lineartronic
Standard spec includes 18″ alloy wheels with 225/45R18 tyres, leather seats and upholstery, automatic LED headamps with auto-levelling, reverse camera, 8-way power driver seat, 2-stage heated front seats, heated and folding side mirrors, power windows, dual climate control & automatic air conditioning, rain sensing wipers, leather covered steering wheel, keyless entry and start, 7-inch touchscreen system with satellite navigation, Bluetooth, Subaru Starlink, Gracenote, DAB digital radio, AUX and USB ports, engine auto stop-start. See full spec here
Safety  Subaru Symmetrical All-Wheel-Drive, Subaru Rear Vehicle Detection (SRVD). Airbags: front, front side, front & rear curtain, driver knee. 4-channel ABS with Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD), Brake Assist, Auto vehicle hold, Euro NCAP safety rating of 5/5 stars.
Options fitted  N/A
Off-road information  Ground clearance: 135 mm (5.4″) 
Price (inc. options)  (correct Nov. 2016) £27,595. Note: Price rose to £29,995 after an update in Oct/Nov 2016.
Engine  Petrol, 1.6 litre, 4-cylinders (Boxer configuration), 16-valves, Direct Injection Turbo, Euro 6b compliant 
Power, Torque  Power: 168 bhp (170PS) @ 4,800 – 5,600 | 184 lb ft (250Nm) of torque @ 1,800 – 4,800 rpm.
Drive, Gears (as tested)  Subaru Symmetrical All-Wheel-Drive| 6-speed Lineartronic CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission) 
Towing capacity, boot space Towing: Unbraked: 750 kg (1,653 lbs), Braked: 1,500 kg (3,307 lbs) | Boot capacity (litres): behind rear seats: 522, underfoor storage: 40, Rear seats folded: 1,446.
Top Speed, 0 – 60 mph, Euro NCAP  Max speed: 120 mph | 0 – 62 mph: 8.9 seconds
Fuel economy (UK mpg), CO2  Urban: 33.2, Extra urban: 44.8, Combined: 39.8 | CO2 (max): 197 g/km
Weight (kerb)  1,554 kgs (3,426 lbs)
Websites  Subaru UKSubaru USA, Subaru global

Words: Chris Davies | Photography/film: Chris Davies, Patrick Davies

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