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2019 Subaru XV plug-in hybrid unveiled

Subaru has unveiled its first-ever plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) in the form of the XV small SUV, but this may not be the petrol-electric model confirmed for Australia in late 2019…

Officially known as the Crosstrek Hybrid in the US, which will be possibly the only market for the PHEV a spokesperson confirmed, the hybridised XV will unsurprisingly make its public debut at next week’s Los Angeles motor show.

Wearing a new Lagoon Blue Pearl, it can be further distinguished by blue headlight projector rings, unique matte-silver grille and body-clad treatment, plus ‘Plug-In Hybrid’ badging on the doors and guards. There’s even ‘Plug-In’ text imprinted on the charge port door, which is on the left rear guard, complementing the petrol filler on the right rear guard. Charge left; juice-up right. Simple.

The Crosstrek Hybrid, nee XV PHEV, utilises a new system dubbed Subaru StarDrive Technology featuring two electric motors.

The first acts as an engine starter and that can be powered by the engine to function as a generator for the battery pack, while the second powers the vehicle in hybrid and electric modes while also turning regenerative braking into battery juice. They team with Subaru’s direct injected 2.0-litre petrol four-cylinder engine and Lineartronic automatic continuously-variable transmission (CVT) famility to owners of the XV in Australia.

However, Subaru claims this PHEV is a full second faster from zero to 60mph (97km/h) than the regular XV sold here, while the lithium-ion batteries (mounted under the cargo area) support an electric-only range of 27km. Overally consumption is 2.6 litres per 100 kilometres for a 770km total range claim.

The XV PHEV still gets 220mm of ground clearance, X-Mode and hill-descent control for its all-wheel drive system, a 450kg braked towing capacity and SI-Drive with Intelligent and Sport modes plus standard active torque-vectoring.

Inside, there’s still a 60:40 split-fold rear seat with up to 1220 litres of luggage space when tipped down, though the boot floor otherwise sits up notably higher than the petrol-only XV. The only other visual clues are the grey/navy leather seats, a colour scheme of which extends to the dashboard and door panels.

Deliveries in the US start late this year, but a Subaru spokesperson confirmed that Australia won’t see the first step into the hybrid world locally until late 2019.

That vehicle is likely to be a non-plug-in hybrid version of the XV, with the spokesperson indicating that the Crosstrek Hybrid is US-only and Japan may not even take the vehicle. That indicates left-hand drive only, at least for now.

Would you like to see a Subaru XV that uses about one-third of the fuel of today’s production car? And would you pay more for it? That’s a question local product planners are no doubt mulling over right now.

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Dan DeGasperi

Dan DeGasperi