2018 Subaru Levorg 1.6 GT Review
Isaac Bober’s 2018 Subaru Levorg 1.6 GT Review with pricing, specs, ride and handling, safety, verdict and score.
In a nutshell: This is the Levorg that Subaru should have launched here first… it’s not perfect but the engine and chassis are perfectly matched in a practical and svelte-looking wagon body.
2018 Subaru Levorg 1.6 GT
Pricing From $35,990+ORC Warranty three-years, unlimited kilometres Service Intervals six-months or 12,500km Safety five-star ANCAP Engine 1.6-litre turbcharged four-cylinder Boxer petrol Power 125kW at 4800-5600rpm Torque 250Nm at 1800-4800rpm Transmission CVT Drive all-wheel drive Dimensions 4690mm (L); 1780mm (W); 1485mm (H); 2650mm (WB) Weight 1539-1591kg Turning Circle 10.8m Spare space saver Boot Space 489-1431 litres Fuel Tank 60 litres Thirst 7.4L/100km
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THE SUBARU LEVORG was launched here last year with the choice of a 2.0-litre engine only. When we drove the Levorg we called out some issues with its Bilstein suspension which have allegedly been addressed with the arrival of this new 1.6-litre turbocharged four-cylinder variant and a tweaking of the 2.0L range. We’ll be driving the 2.0L STI variant in November.
What is the Levorg 1.6 GT?
The Levorg 1.6 GT is the new entry-level variant in the Levorg range and pricing starts at $35,990+ORC and steps up to $42,890+ORC for the 1.6 GT Premium variant. In terms of competition, the pricing puts it on par with the petrol-powered Mondeo Ambiente wagon ($35,040+ORC), the Mazda 6 2.5 Sport wagon ($33,790+ORC) and the Skoda Octavia wagon 110TSI Style ($35,490+ORC).
In terms of the vehicle itself, it’s only the arrival of the new engine and a reduced specification level that set it apart from other Levorgs. That and the fact it misses out on the Bilstein shocks the rest of the range gets. That might not seem like a lot of difference, but it adds up to a very different driving experience which we’ll get to shortly.
What’s the interior like?
The interior of the entry-level Levorg looks good and you can’t help but think Subaru’s interior designers have finally climbed out of the shadow of their past efforts. Even on this entry variant, there are soft touch plastics scattered around the cabin, quality feeling buttons and dials and even the hard, scratchy stuff that has been used feels good to the touch.
The dashboard is plain but offers all of the things you’d need in a neat layout with an upper screen for stuff you’ll never look at, like fuel consumption or how much drive is going where, and a lower 6.2-inch screen for infotainment and communications. And, this infotainment unit is a real disappointment; it lacks Apple CarPlay or Android Auto connectivity or native sat-nav and is little more than a glorified radio with Bluetooth for phone connection and audio streaming.
The screen is small and fiddly to use and, more often than not, requires multiple stabs at the screen to get it to change a track or browse an album. I would have hoped, given Subaru has better infotainment systems available in Impreza and XV that this entry-level Levorg would have benefitted from that and received a system that, even if it didn’t have native sat-nav would have had the ability to use navigation via your smartphone.
You’ll notice the two nodules beside the rear vision mirror which is Subaru’s active safety EyeSight system and I think it’s a great thing the system is available on the entry-level Levorg. We know from EyeSight demonstrations we’ve participated in that the system is very good; unlike the Impreza or XV, there’s no reverse braking for the Levorg’s EyeSight system.
In the driver’s seat, there’s plenty of adjustability forwards, backwards and up and down and the steering offers decent adjustment for both reach and height. The seat itself is comfortable and supportive. There’s good vision right around the vehicle and while the image on the reversing camera is a little grainy there’s a decent field of view.
Over in the back there’s room for three adults in a pinch or two very comfortably; kids will have more than enough room. Being a wagon there’s good headroom and while the Levorg isn’t that much bigger than Impreza, there’s plenty of shoulder, elbow and legroom with a good under-front-seat-foot-wriggle room.
Getting in and out of the back seat is a cinch thanks to the hip point which allows you to literally swing out your legs and walk away through to the wide-opening doors which parents with small children will appreciate. There are ISOFIX mounts on the outboard seats and top tethers for all three positions.
There are no rear air vents for those in the back but there are under-the-front-seat vents that pipe through warm or cool air into the back of the car. Storage is good whether you’re in the front or the back, although the centre console storage box is only small. You’ll fit 500ml water bottles in the doors in either the front or the back, there are cupholders in the front and a small storage tray with USB outlet for your phone forwards of the gear shifter.
Over in the boot, there’s 489 litres of boot space with the back seats in use; drop them and this grows to 911 litres or 1413 litres if you load the space right to the roof. The fact the Levorg gets 40:20:40 split-fold seats makes for a very versatile and practical load space. The shape of the boot is good and the load lip is only small. Underneath the boot floor is a space saver spare and there’s no full-size spare option.
What’s it like on the road?
The new Levorg 1.6 GT rans, as its name suggests a 1.6-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine making 125kW at 4800-5600rpm and 250Nm of torque from 1800-4800rpm. This engine is excellent and should be Subaru’s stock standard engine across the range; if only they could get it to fit in the XV. Fuel consumption is a claimed 7.4L/100km but our week with the Levorg 1.6 GT saw us average 8.8L/100km.
The numbers aren’t huge but the CVT (cue: moaning) does a great job of getting the most out of the engine with the result that this Levorg is a relaxed drive with enough grunt in reserve to make overtaking on hills comfortable and fuss-free. It’s also fun in the corners with a good spread of torque from 1800rpm… this isn’t a peaky turbocharged engine that takes time to get going and then suddenly takes off, rather it feels more like a strong naturally-aspirated engine in that power delivery is consistent across the rev range.
The steering is light but direct in its action with good on-centre precision which makes eating up miles on the freeway a cinch. And the brakes are nice and progressive making for, overall, a very easy driving experience.
The 1.6 GT does without Bilstein suspension and I reckon that’s no bad thing as the ride and handling tune in this entry-level variant is spot on for the sort of car and its ‘sporting’ overtones. My last experience with the front to back tune of the Bilsteins in the Levorg left me feeling cold; the thing felt great in the front but nervy at the back. That’s not the case with this variant.
Practical Motoring’s ride and handling loop takes in plenty of dirt, fast-flowing roads and poorly surfaced blacktop; indeed, our loop is the same loop used by Hyundai Australia’s ride and handling team and it’s perfect for pulling apart a car’s chassis. The Levorg feels comfortable at high and low speed across bitumen and dirt, thanks both to the permanent all-wheel drive and the suspension tune. Body control is good with minimal bodyroll through corners, although the nose will pitch and dive a little under hard acceleration and heavy braking. Mid-corner bumps are dealt with without upsetting the car’s stance and only deeper holes will catch out the relatively short-travel suspension.
The Levorg 1.6 GT might be the entry into the Levorg line-up but those after something sporting shouldn’t dismiss it because it misses out on Bilsteins; the ride and handling easily puts this thing at the top of its price bracket within the segment.
What about safety features?
The Levorg 1.6 GT carries over the five-star ANCAP rating the Levorg received last year and gets Subaru’s EyeSight safety system which includes adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, lane sway warning, lead vehicle start reminder, autonomous emergency braking, brake light recognition and lane keep assist. It gets a reversing camera but no front or rear parking sensors and airbags, all-wheel drive, child locks on the rear doors, automatic vehicle hold and more.
So, what do we think about the Levorg 1.6 GT?
This is a great addition to the Levorg range and is the model that Subaru should have launched here from the start. It’s good to drive, roomy and priced on-par with its key rivals in the segment, and gets an advanced active safety system. It’s a great little car but for the fact it misses out on sat-nav and Apple Car Play and Android Auto… that might seem like nit-picking but it should have either one as standard at this price point.