SUBARU has added yet another model to the burgeoning sub-compact SUV class, but its new XV won't get lost in the crowd.
With sleek lines, hawk-eye headlights, a bold hexagonal grille and some lairy colours, the XV is a standout with the emphasis on fun.
From $28,490, the five-door hatch slots in between the Forester and the Impreza.
It is shorter, wider, lower and $2500 cheaper than a Forester but bigger than a $4500 cheaper Impreza.
The engine is a new lighter-weight and longer-stroke version of Subaru's 2.0-litre flat four.
Outputs are unchanged at 110kW and 196Nm, but the peak power comes in at 6200rpm (200rpm lower) and peak torque at 4200rpm (1000rpm higher).
Despite this higher torque peak, Subaru says the new engine has more pull in the low and middle engine speed ranges.
This, with the help of engine stop/start on idle, helps improve fuel efficiency to a combined 7.3l/100km when mated to the six-speed manual and 7.0l/100km in the constantly variable transmission.
Other efficiency tricks include variable timing on all valves, electric power steering and revised transmissions.
The information display monitors driving style and fuel use and compares it with previous results. It even shows the amount of fuel saved while stationary in engine stop mode.
The manual transmission comes from the Liberty and the CVT is a lighter, more compact version of the one fitted to the Liberty and Outback.
The XV retains Subaru's signature permanent all-wheel drive system, unlike rivals that are either part-time or front-drive.
There are three models: 2.0 manual at $28,490 (CVT $30,990); 2.0-L at $31,990 (CVT $34,990); and 2.0i-S at $34,490 (CVT $36,990).
Standard equipment includes seven airbags, a reversing camera, stability control, all-wheel drive, five-star crash rating, automatic airconditioning, cruise control, 17-inch alloy wheels with a temporary spare, engine stop/start on idle, a multi-function display, tilt and telescopic steering wheel, six-speaker single CD audio with Bluetooth, iPod and USB connection, fog lights and roof rails.
The 2.0i-L adds dual-zone climate control, voice-activated satellite navigation, a sunroof, privacy glass and a sliding centre console.
The 2.0i-S adds leather trim, power driver's seat, heated front seats, high-intensity headlights, alloy pedals and indicators in the mirrors.