On the road

First look: Subaru Hybrid

Subaru believes the time is right for the release of its first hybrid drivetrains onto the Australian market. Forester and XV hybrid variants join the existing range, promising improved fuel economy and additional torque in lower speed environments.

The e-Boxer system, as Subaru is calling it, adds a 12.3kW, 66Nm electric motor connected through the transmission, powered by a lithium ion battery to enhance low and mid-speed performance. The system operates in three modes: motor assist EV driving, which under the right conditions will operate the vehicle on electric only up to 40km/h; for mid-speed and acceleration the electric motor combines with the 2.0L boxer engine to produce a more responsive and fuel-efficient operation; and at high speed it runs only on the petrol engine. The battery is charged both by kinetic energy when decelerating or braking, and by the petrol engine spinning the drive motor.

Subaru Hybrid in green

Blue and red Subaru Hybrids parked outside building

Claimed fuel consumption improvements are 7% for the XV (6.5L/100km), and 9% for the Forester (6.7L/100km) on the official combined cycle. The majority of the improvement comes from the around-town urban-type driving, where the electric motor does a lot of the work. All models come standard with Subaru’s very competent CVT auto transmission and all have Subaru X-Mode. The manufacturer claims the hybrid system further enhances off-road ability.

As expected from Subaru, each gets the full safety suite, the standard five-year warranty and fixed-price servicing. The battery gets an eight-year 160,000km warranty for added peace of mind.

The only question mark I see is the hybrid vehicles no longer have a spare tyre, as the battery pack has taken that space. Instead it has a gel repair kit, which likely wouldn’t work if you took the side out of a tyre – the most likely scenario if off-road.

The XV is available in a single specification XV Hybrid AWD for a little over $39,500, while Forester offers Hybrid L AWD for $44,286 and Hybrid S AWD for $50,526 (drive away).

 

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