Different from the norm. If your idea of the perfect estate has to include a manual gearbox and a diesel engine, this new Subaru might not be your cup of tea.
However, it's not without its positives, and there are plenty to choose from, such as the new engine, which is a real highlight. It might not have quite as much power at some other turbocharged Subarus, but the 1.6 unit is really refined. It delivers its power and 184lb ft of torque in a smooth, linear fashion right across the rev range, and this flexibility makes it relaxing to stroke along a country lane.
Performance is best described as brisk, but the car will have no problem keeping up with motorway traffic. Load the impressive 522-litre boot to the gunwales and drive up a really steep hill, though, and it might be a different story.
The CVT gearbox is not as intrusive as you might expect, although sadly that's not something you can say about the transmission whine when overtaking. Left in 'auto' mode, the CVT does a decent job of slurring its way between the six 'steps' which take the role of actual gears, but the paddle shift manual mode can be a little more hit-and-miss, and lacks the level of control a manual gearbox would provide. Otherwise, the controls inspire confidence, with weighty, direct steering, a progressive brake pedal and sharp throttle.
Subaru was keen to point out that the Levorg shares some chassis D.N.A and suspension components with the extreme 300bhp WRX STi
- and some of that pedigree can be felt when tackling a challenging B-road. The suspension is definitely on the firm side, but has enough travel to work with the dampers and do a decent job of keeping things flat and level.
This allows you to tackle bumpy corners without the fear of losing grip, upsetting your passengers, or being jolted off line. The downside to this agility is that at low speed, the ride can feel pretty punishing. No matter how gingerly you try and creep over a speed bump, the 18-inch alloys will crash and thump in a fairly unpleasant fashion.
Away from the driving experience, the Levorg gets a lot of other things right, too. The interior is well appointed, with subtle blue stitching along the leather trim on the seats and the door panels. The flat-bottomed steering wheel is a little busy, as it's covered in tiny, hard-to-read buttons and switches. The standard central 'Starlink' touch-screen display and sat-nav work well, but the extra digital gauges plonked on top of the dash look like an afterthought, and use dated graphics which rob the interior of the kind of sophistication you might reasonably expect to find at this price.
Although the Levorg has a smaller footprint than the Outback, it feels spacious inside, with generous leg- and headroom for those in the back. Still, the combination of front seats that are mounted a little too high, plus a low-slung dash does make it feel at times like you're perched on top of the car, rather than nestled inside it.