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> New Subaru, For a while
Bjorn
post Apr 7 2013, 06:01 PM
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The Legacy suffered a wife-induced injury, so she had to go away and get a new mirror and some dents taken out.

While she's gone I have this.



A 2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek. It's basically an Impreza with a lift-kit, some plastic arches, roof-racks, bigger front brakes and tires from a truck (I mean that literally, it has truck-tires).

It has a 2.0L flat-four making about 150 BHP, and 150 ft/lbs of torque, which is OK, but down on my Legacy by about 20 units in each category.

Considering the ingredients, this should be a pretty good car...but it really isn't.

The main letdown is the transmission. It's the "5-speed" CVT, which is a mess.

When accelerating normally it hunts around the rev-range for a ratio — all the while you're accelerating. It's very disconcerting to see the rev-counter go from 2,000 RPM to 5,000 RPM and back down to 2,200 while you're accelerating more or less uninterrupted. When the gearbox is in full auto, even with your foot placed firmly against the floor, this translates into very slow acceleration.

If you move the gear-selector into manual you can use the wheel-mounted paddle shifters, which give the transmission a bit of a better sense of identity, but not much. The car starts accelerating like a vehicle with a normal stepped-ratio gearbox, but when you pull the paddle and ask for an upshift a weird thing happens. Instead of blipping the throttle and dropping a ratio you can watch the revs slowly fall for about a second, before they start to rise again.

Downshifts are a bit more natural feeling, but not by much.

Add to this a dark and plasticky interior — which isn't helped by tiny tinted windows — and it's a pretty nasty thing to drive.

Plus, being that high up gives a bit of a wobbly ride. I don't get motion sick normally. But this thing made me nauseous after just 45 minutes. This is something that has never reared it's head in 16 years of driving. Hell, it didn't even come knocking when I was flying Cessnas.

Since the death of the Legacy wagon in Canada in 2009 I've been wondering if Subaru has stopped making cars for me.

My Legacy is big enough for my family, fun to drive and has a premium feel to it. This XV Crosstrek is none of these things...and I fear that it's built via the same philosophy as the current Legacy/Outback and Forester models — sacrificing the cut-price Audi image that I loved, and trying to appear more-rugged. The BRZ and last-generation STI gave me hope, but more and more I'm feeling that Subaru no longer wants me as a customer.

Lucky for me Audi, BMW and Volvo (when the V60 comes back to North America) all make small, fun, AWD wagons for me to choose from. Un lucky for me they're all about 80 per cent more dear than my Legacy.

Let's hope my Legacy stands the next five years as well as it's done these previous five. And that when it comes time to replace it I've moved up the ladder such that I can afford a luxury wagon. Or that Subaru re-evaluates who it's core audience is, and starts making cars for me again.

Gratuitous shot of my beloved Legacy (note the mirror damage)!
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Synesthesia
post Apr 9 2013, 06:38 PM
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Huh! How much of your CVT hate is *this* CVT vs. CVTs in general? Never driven one.
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b0mb3r
post Apr 9 2013, 07:18 PM
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There is a lot of hate for the new 2.0L motor... and I read that the CVT model is actually faster than the manual... Anyhow, I see these things all over the place, seem pretty decent, but not for me.
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Bjorn
post Apr 10 2013, 04:30 PM
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QUOTE(Synesthesia @ Apr 9 2013, 09:38 PM) *
Huh! How much of your CVT hate is *this* CVT vs. CVTs in general? Never driven one.


This is the first CVT I've driven, but it seems to tick the same boxes as the other ones I've read about: sluggish, confused by anything but vanilla acceleration and deceleration, artificial steps to try and make you feel like you're driving a proper gearbox.

QUOTE(b0mb3r @ Apr 9 2013, 10:18 PM) *
There is a lot of hate for the new 2.0L motor... and I read that the CVT model is actually faster than the manual... Anyhow, I see these things all over the place, seem pretty decent, but not for me.


The motor doesn't seem overly bad...but it's so hard to tell behind the garbage that is the gearbox.

It's certainly nor more economical than the 2.5 in the Legacy.

Subaru need to actually invest in some new engine technology. Direct injection would probably do wonders for the fuel economy.
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dukenukem
post Apr 10 2013, 06:40 PM
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Subaru DI is rumored to arrive with the new WRX next year.
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clarkma5
post Apr 10 2013, 07:53 PM
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I've driven CVTs in an '04 A4 (really nice), '06 & '12 Priusii (2012 is a plug-in, both are rubber bandy but otherwise competent. Hard to tell if the extra refinement in the 2012 is in the transmission or just the sound deadening for the engine revs though!), and my roomate's 2013 Lancer 2.4 which is sorta a B across the board for me. They've all been pretty responsive and haven't exhibited the really inconsistent revs issue as much, though they are definitely quick to kickdown which is a plus! Generally, a good CVT can go head to head against an auto and be competitive. I found the steel-belted A4 with the 3.0 liter V6 was an excellent pairing that I'd put as better than almost any auto, it was definitely my pick for best 2 pedal gearbox, at least while dual clutches were still not quite here yet.

So yeah this sounds like a poor execution and/or application for the CVT. It's certainly a pretty wheezy thing, I'd be interested to see a 2.5 Impreza in the new body style. And a 6 speed XD
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Synesthesia
post Apr 15 2013, 04:05 PM
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Huh. Yeah, at least in concept, I would say I'd much rather a CVT than a regular auto.
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