2017 Subaru Levorg GT-S Spec B review
Isaac Bober’s first drive 2076 Subaru Levorg GT-S Spec B review with pricing, specs, ride and handling, safety, verdict and score.
IN A NUTSHELL: The Australian-designed Spec B, parts bin special, takes the Levorg to a whole new level, one where it starts to make sense as a model in its own right.
2017 Subaru Levorg GT-S Spec B
Price $52,890+ORC Warranty three-years unlimited Safety 5 star ANCAP Engine 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder (Boxer) petrol Power/Torque 197kW/350Nm Transmission CVT Body 4690mm (L); 1780mm (W); 1490mm (H) Weight 1538-1582kg Fuel Tank 60 litres Thirst 8.7L/100km
THE SUBARU LEVORG launched in Australia a month or so ago and was billed, by Subaru, as a performance wagon that harked back to the fourth-generation liberty GT and the sort of vehicle that was being sought after by SUV rejectors. Hmmm, the former we get, but the latter, well, if you look at VFACTS figures for new vehicle sales, then you’ll realise that there are less and less people rejecting SUVs every month, with it, if not the largest vehicle segment, then at least the fastest-growing one in the country.
What is it?
As mentioned, the Levorg Spec B sits at the top of the tree and was developed in Australia as a cost-option for the Levorg GT-S. It adds the following to the Levorg GT-S package and sees pricing rise to $52,890+ORC from $48,890+ORC for the Levorg GT-S:
- STI shift knob;
- STI front spoiler;
- STI side spoiler;
- STI rear under spoiler;
- STI rear side under spoiler;
- STI 18-inch black alloy wheel;
- STI front tower bar;
- STI red push button start; and
- STI roof end spoiler.
What’s it like?
From the B-pillar forwards the Levorg is basically a WRX with that same swooping snout and hawk-like head lights, while at the back the wagon bum is all-new. The Levorg GT-S Spec B variant looks better than either the entry level Levorg GT or GT-S variant which come off looking a little plain jane next to it. The black bodykit at the front, rear and sides gives the Levorg a hunkered down and more menacing appearance. And the black 18-inch alloys add a little bit of extra aggression to the package.
Sadly, the interior hasn’t been similarly tarted up with just an STi logo on the gear lever, and the red starter button to tell you you’re not just sat in the garden-variety Levorg. Everything else you look at is identical to the GT-S variant, and I can’t help but think Subaru could have made more of an effort inside given how good it looks from the outside.
The leather seats in the Levorg GT-S Spec B, like the GT-S, have contrast stitching and while they’re comfortable they’re not overly supportive given the sort of cornering forces this car can generate. Fitting the seats from the WRX STi would have helped with that and gone some way towards lifting the feel of the interior.
The back seats offer decent room for two adults or two children in child seats with good head, shoulder and legroom. Anyone using the middle seat will find that it’s more of a perch than a proper seat you’d want to travel in for any length of time, and the transmission tunnel which is, albeit narrow, will mean your feet will be stealing space from the outboard passengers. There are two USB outlets in the back which will be a relief to smartphone/tablet toting teenagers or parents who like to use tablets to keep kids quiet on road trips.
The boot space despite the overall dimensions being smaller is just 10 litres shy of the fifth-generation Liberty wagon at 522 litres with the rear seats up and these can be folded down from the boot via push buttons, or from the seats themselves via a pull-up toggle mounted on the shoulder of the seat back. Fold down the rear seats and the boot grows to 1446 litres.
The boot is a reasonable shape and is low enough to the ground that adults of all sizes should be able to load and unload it easily. There are a few tie-down points but they’re only plastic. There’s a space saver spare beneath the floor rather than a full-size spare and it can be a bit of a pain to get to it, with the boot floor split into two section that offer access to small hide holes; they both have to be raised to get at the spare beneath.
Back in the front and the dashboard is very easy to follow with a 7.0-inch touchscreen dominating the centre of the dashboard and manual climate control dials below that. The infotainment and communications system offers sat-nav and Siri integration but lacks Apple CarPlay or Android Auto connectivity. On the whole it’s a good system that syncs easily and without fault via either Bluetooth or USB. My main gripe with the system is that in full sun it’s impossible to see because of the angle of the screen and the glare reflected off it. We’ll have a full infotainment review online in the next week.
Under the bonnet is a 2.0-litre turbocharged horizontal-opposed (Boxer) four-cylinder petrol engine that makes 197kW at 5600rpm and 350Nm of torque from 2400-5200rpm – it’s the same engine that runs in both the WRX and the Forester XT. It’s mated exclusively to the same CVT that sees service in the WRX, meaning it offers between six and eight preset ratios depending on the driving mode selected. It offers a claimed combined fuel consumption of 8.7L/100km. Power, torque and fuel consumption as well as CVT programming is the same across GT and GT-S and GT-S Spec B variants, and that means the 0-100km/h time of 6.6 seconds applies to all models.
There’s no beefy exhaust system and so pressing the red starter button sees the Levorg whisper into life before settling to a, well, whisper quiet idle. The engine note hardens up a little when the thing is accelerating hard, but it’s not what you’d call an exciting engine note.
Subaru has done a good job with its CVTs in other models and the unit in the Levorg GT-S Spec B is no exception and that’s because it’s basically the same system that runs in the WRX. Thanks to around 80% of torque available from just off idle and peak torque arriving at 2400rpm and then flat from there until 5200rpm progress is pretty easy going.
When you select either Sport (S) or Sports Sharp (S#) on the Subaru Intelligent Drive (SI-Drive) system and you’re in D for Drive the transmission will move into a preset stepped mode offering eight ratios. And it provides a very good imitation of a conventional eight-speed automatic transmission that responds well to the steering-mounted paddles or when left to its own devices, indeed, it will even jolt slightly as it virtually grabs a gear.
The steering is lifeless but accurate and quick to respond and while, as mentioned, there’s very little feel the weighting is consistent throughout the action and at both low and high speeds. The brakes are strong and offer reasonable pedal feel.
Now, the ride and handling. This was a real sore point in the GT-S at the local launch where across the broken surfaces of the Oxley Highway, NSW, the Bilstein suspension-toting GT-S felt twitchy and more likely to po-go in the rear off mid-corner bumps. And we’ll have a full review of the Levorg GT-S online soon. But, the GT-S Spec B doesn’t have those same issues, and whether it’s because of the addition of the STi strut tower at the front or something else, the two cars simply don’t feel the same.
Where the GT-S collapses into ruts at the front before leaping up in the rear, and just feels hard and poorly damped, the GT-S Spec B doesn’t. Rather it feels firm instead of hard and so while you hear the car hitting bumps and ruts in the road, the body reacts with more control and composure from front to rear. This means you feel more confident in pressing on in the thing… as you do in the entry-level Levorg GT which doesn’t have Bilstein suspension.
Like the rest of the Levorg range, the GT-S Spec B gets a five star ANCAP rating, seven airbags as well as permanent all-wheel drive, traction and stability controls with active torque vectoring from side to side to minimise understeer, as well as the ability to shuffle torque from front to back as required. The GT-S Spec B runs Subaru’s latest-generation EyeSight system which offers a whole host of monitoring, and now includes, vision assist, which adds a row of LEDs forward of the steering wheel which flash to indicate the warning, whether its blind spot, to either side of the car, or an obstacle in front. The LEDs mean you don’t have to move your eyes from the road as you’ll pick up the flashing in peripheral vision.