Does sitting higher mean a better drive? It’s Subaru Impreza vs Subaru XV in a sedan vs crossover face-off
A family sedan is never a wrong choice, but now that there are compact crossovers to contend with, are they the better choice? Humankind has always wanted to go up. Up the corporate ladder, up the pecking order, up the food chain, up to the sky, and beyond. It’s almost a biological prerequisite that now seems to be spilling over in to how we drive and what we drive. More now than ever before we‘re climbing upon the car version of a booster seat. No other vehicle segment has grown in the last decade like small SUVs. To prove the point, about one in every three cars sold these days belong to the SUV sector.
In the past, SUVs were heavy, bulky four-wheel drives that guzzled too much fuel, but nowadays, car makers have a compact SUV counterpart right next to an equivalent family sedan or hatch sharing identical drivetrains. Causing consumers and analysts like ourselves to speculate which one is genuinely better: the tried and tested sedan or the comparable compact SUV with its perceived benefits like ease of access, high driving position and tougher, more rugged look?
To that end, we‘re pitting the Subaru Impreza against its tall-riding stablemate, the XV in a test of practicality, roominess, drive, convenience and most importantly, cost. Is there really a benefit to owning a compact crossover? And what a mighty fine pair of siblings they are, both focused on practicality and value for money over luxury. The XV is a width of a hand shorter, more defined in the lines and a whopping 90mm taller than the Impreza.
The XV is not exactly the Mount Everest of SUVs but when you get back into the Impreza, it does feel like going down two flights of stairs. That said, it is rather nice down here. The wider doors mean that climbing in and buckling up kids isn’t difficult. The same cannot be said for the XV which suffers from square-peg-round-hole syndrome. A relatively cheap interior fit and finish is common to both cars but the tech present in both cars is excellent for the money. An all too rare occurrence these days
Like butter in a hot pan, at least on smooth roads. Both cars have the privilege of fighting for benchmark status in their respective segments. The difference comes in with the XV’s higher centre of gravity which takes away that sense of agility the Impreza can’t help boast about. The XV is also a smidgen slower (0.4 sec), more cumbersome through traffic and thirstier (0.2 l/100 km to be exact). Because of the taller body and requisite body roll of the SUV, the suspension had to be tightened up, which makes it ride more inelegantly. Those among us who prefer the more dynamic drive settings will feel how the low–slung Impreza just grip and go, taking full advantage of the horizontally opposed layout of the 2.0-litre boxer motor.
True to form, Subaru starts prices for the Impreza below that of the on-trend XV, however, the drivetrains and options list on both are virtually identical. While saving R20k on an Impreza over an equivalent XV is not to be sneezed at, you most factor in cost of ownership and according to our calculations, we predict the XV to have better resale value compared to the Impreza over time.
OVERALL WINNER: Impreza
The XV may offer better resale value, but it is less comfortable, tighter and is nowhere near as fun to drive as the talented Impreza.