Subaru Crosstrek performance and handling
The Crosstrek is the first of the new generation of small Subaru models. Its five-door SUV body is shared with the upcoming Subaru Impreza hatch, albeit with additional bulges and black highlights for a more rugged look. The significance of this is that it also has new mechanical underpinnings and it’s clear Subaru has paid plenty of attention to everyday comfort.
The Subaru Crosstrek’s suspension controls the body beautifully and also soaks up bumps nicely.
It’s particularly well settled on country roads where it drives more like a larger, more mature vehicle. It also hushes outside noises nicely, adding to its comfort levels.
But arguably the best attribute of the Subaru Crosstrek is its ability to adventure. While many small compact SUVs are designed to scale only the heights of suburbia, the Crosstrek has also been designed to live up to the marketing. There’s a full 220mm of ground clearance and the bumpers aren’t as low-slung as most. That means you can clamber over jagged trails and undulations with ease.
Subaru’s simple but effective all-wheel drive system ensures traction at each corner. That’s only foiled when a wheel hangs in the air, which is relatively easy to do given the car-based independent suspension system. So, while the Subaru Crosstrek is adventurous, it’s ultimately not as capable as more serious off-roaders.
Thankfully, the traction control system is quick to step in, helping apportion drive to the wheels with grip. Subaru’s X-Mode system also tailors the electronics to different surfaces, including gravel, mud and snow.
Less impressive is the engine. The 2.0-litre is a modest performer that needs to be worked hard for more enthusiastic acceleration. However, it’s hooked up to a CVT auto transmission; instead of fixed ratios, it adjusts engine revs to what the driver is demanding, allowing greater flexibility and smoother progress. That CVT works well in harnessing the power on offer, although for country road hill climbing you’ll have to keep the right foot planted to maintain pace. All up, though, the driving experience is a step up for a compact SUV that delivers on its adventurous positioning.