Functional individualism: Subaru XV e-Boxer – a little electric

Mainstream and yet different – that’s how you could describe the Subaru XV 2.0ie (e-Boxer). With the combination of four-wheel drive, boxer engine, electric motor and CVT, the boyish compact class becomes a unique offering. But what speaks for the compact car?

If you’re deviating from something that’s tried and true, there must at least be a valid reason. But the reasons are not always clear, neither at first glance nor at all. Or it’s just about a certain philosophy you believe in. Just like the Subaru developers of the boxer engine, which is used almost exclusively in the Japanese products.

Their flat design allows boxer engines to change the vehicle’s center of gravity and run smoother because balancing their mass forces eliminates all vibration. But how relevant is the center of gravity in a sober, motorized all-rounder from the compact class? The smooth running of the four-cylinder petrol engine would be more exciting. So much is expected: the direct injection sounds pleasant, but robust. But more on that later.

The Subaru XV stands out because of its color

The rear of the Subaru XV: a little clunky.

(Photo: Patrick Broich)

First an external look at the 4.49 meter long compact. European design conventions count less with Subaru, maybe American (if at all), because the US is a big market. This explains the somewhat clumsy rear, which one might have pinched in Europe. But it doesn’t matter – “Plasma Yellow Pearl”, that is the name of the paintwork of the test car, absolutely rips it off, the Subaru has its cool nuance.

Together with the sober black plastic wheel arch trims, the XV rolls under the eyes of its viewers in an almost bizarre, extroverted, traditional trekking style. Really stylish aluminum wheels in a five-hole design make the XV an eye-catcher nonetheless. Still a little.


The wheel arches of the Subaru XV are covered with black plastic.

(Photo: Patrick Broich)

On the other hand, functionality dominates inside, with more push buttons than touch options. The Subaru avoids architectural gimmicks. Fans of classic round instruments will still find what they are looking for in the XV, the subject of infotainment is treated a bit neglected, but it is covered anyway. The central touchscreen now fits harmoniously into the center console and no longer looks like an accessory as it did a few years ago. And if the operation is too cumbersome, integrate your smartphone and work with Apple CarPlay or Android Auto – it works properly.

The second, smaller display in the instrument panel is even more beautiful. Although it is not touch sensitive, in addition to various driving data, it shows exciting information about which of the two engines is currently involved in the drive and how.

The e-Boxer has two motors at work


Where it says e-Boxer, there is an electric machine inside.

(Photo: Patrick Broich)

And boom, the drive chapter would be announced. That’s right, because in addition to the famous boxer, there is now also an electric motor in the XV – at least if you opt for the two-liter version with 150 hp. Although 17 extra horsepower and 66 Newton meters of torque sound meager, you push the 1.6-tonner away. In practice, this is only possible for a few hundred meters without an internal combustion engine, which is more thanks to the battery with a capacity of just over half a kilowatt hour than to the silent power.

You are driven to play the game: can you move the XV without starting the combustion engine? Depress the accelerator pedal gently enough, then it accelerates purely electrically until the four-cylinder comes to life with a short jolt. But that’s not really the point. You should not roll around electrically, but the electric motor supports the combustion engine when it is running in an unfavorable working range. This is called load point shifting. In this way the XV should consume a liter less in city traffic compared to versions without electrical support – that sounds realistic. However, it consumes about 7.5 liters of Super per 100 kilometers in moderate highway driving around the recommended speed, which is not so economical, but okay.

Boxer engine sounds spicy

The reason lies in the continuously variable automatic transmission, which is not particularly efficient at constant speeds. To be fair, always keep in mind: The XV runs with permanent four-wheel drive. And the CVT has its merits. There are no jerks when shifting as the ratio is continuously changed in the “long” direction as the XV accelerates gently. However, depending on the load being driven, the electronics also make bigger leaps in translation to simulate levels. Under full load, however, the revs remain high as the SUV gains speed. Then sounds the four-cylinder almost sporty. He doesn’t deny a certain sassy attitude anyway, which can actually be quite sexy. But it is not dynamic, it takes 10.7 seconds to reach 100 km/h.


No shortage of space in the second row.

(Photo: Patrick Broich)

Subaru has developed its permanent four-wheel drive to perfection, which behaves so integrally that you don’t even notice it. Even at full steering angle, there is no trace of noticeable tension. Incidentally, off-road capabilities are so important to the brand that it even specifies the departure angle (19.5 degrees at the front) in the brochure – unusual in this segment. At the push of a button (X-Mode), the four-wheel drive adapts its control logic to better dig through mud or mud.

The right space and really comfortable seats also make the Japanese a rewarding long-distance vehicle. The naturally balanced dampers and springs also contribute to this power – an XV just doesn’t have to imitate sportiness and torment its passengers with harsh manners.

The adaptive cruise control regulates exemplary


Classic push buttons abound in the Subaru XV.

(Photo: Patrick Broich)

A really big credit goes to the assisted longitudinal control. The adaptive cruise control regulates the speed according to the flow of traffic and can automatically brake the XV to a standstill. So far, so common today. But the Subaru settles so carefully when local premium manufacturers can’t do better — sometimes worse. The systems often react roughly when a road user intervenes briefly. Because then decisive braking is necessary – in this case the XV slows down immediately with the required dose, but remains soft in execution.

The Subaru XV is available as a hybrid from 32,990 euros. The basic version “Trend” already offers everything your heart desires for free. These include, for example, the Bluetooth hands-free system, LED headlights, reversing camera, keyless locking system, seat heating and even the almost perfectly adjustable intelligent cruise control. If you want the integrated navigation system, you have to resort to higher equipment variants. However, the handy smartphone integration is always on board. You don’t need more cars.


Subaru XV 2.0ie

Dimensions (Length/Width/Height)




empty weight (DIN)


chairs 5
loading volume

340/1193 litres

engine type

2.0-litre four-cylinder boxer with direct injection


continuously variable automatic transmission

Performance of the combustion engine/electric machine

150 hp (110 kW) / 17 hp (12 kW)

Maximum torque

194 Nm / 4000 rpm

system performance

150 hp (110 kW) + 17 hp (12 kW)

fuel type big
motive four wheel drive
top speed

193 km/h

tank capacity

48 liters

Acceleration 0-100 km/h

10.7 seconds

consumption (combined)

6.5 liters (NEDC)

combined CO₂ emissions


emission standard:

Euro 6d ISC FCM

base price

from 32,990 euros

Conclusion: The Subaru XV 2.0ie is a car for individualists. Not necessarily because of its appearance, but because of its boxer engine and in general because of the brand, which is rarely represented in this country. The compact SUV is a robust and balanced all-round vehicle with a sober finish. The full hybrid is more comfortable than sporty and does not go above paved paths. You also get a lot of car for the course.

Whether the 6550 euros extra for the hybrid is worth it compared to the 114 hp 1.6i remains to be seen, because the tweeliter is also not a miracle of acceleration. But LED headlights and keyless locking system are not included in the base model. Now you have to decide.

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