Inside, the Levorg is nice enough in parts but still sufficiently plain and plasticky elsewhere to prevent it from presenting a really tempting alternative to a premium-brand car.
The car’s seats are large and comfy, its black leathers detailed with unusual blue stitching that’s more appealing on the eye than it may sound. Soft-touch mouldings border those leather surfaces to pleasingly tactile effect in most high-level places, but at lower levels the Levorg’s plastics are quite hard, shiny and unappealing. The instruments look crowded, with the fuel and temperature gauges being hard to read. And while Subaru’s Starlink touchscreen infotainment set-up looks good and works well, its split trip computer screens remain hard to fathom.
The Levorg’s second row offers adequate passenger space but nothing outstanding: there’s enough space for two large adults, just. The boot is a good size, though, all 522 litres of it up to the window line, beating plenty of similarly sized wagons. The boot is child’s play to expand, too, with 60/40 split rear seats spring-loaded for easy – and completely flat – folding.
To drive, the Levorg is pacey and moderately good fun at times, albeit undeniably muddled. Underneath the Levorg lies a platform and a goodly chunk of suspension hardware donated from the WRX STi sports saloon – and you certainly know it by the way the car rides and handles.
But while it’s fairly quiet and measured on smooth roads, there’s a heaving firmness about the ride over uneven B-roads that’s a bit unsettling to begin with. The car’s damping, though progressive, is ultimately uncompromising, doing a good job of keeping the wheels on terra firma at all times but making the car pitch and heave unsympathetically over bigger bumps. After a while, you realise that the lack of rebound control isn’t actually going to compromise the car’s stability – it’s just a characteristic of the firm, long-travel suspension. Thereafter, the way the car bounds from crest to crest becomes quite endearing.
The car handles well – well enough, just about, to represent a selling point to keen drivers. Steering weight is consistent and inspires plenty of confidence and is very well matched to the directness of the steering gear. The car corners very flat and fast, with excellent stability and surefootedness.
But the Levorg’s engine and gearbox are far from what the chassis deserves. Though smooth and refined, the 1.6 turbo’s 168bhp feels only lukewarm on the road. The CVT does a willing but flawed impression of a good paddleshift gearbox when you’re driving keenly, with an elastic and inconsistent shift quality and noticeable transmission whine.
Leave the gearbox in ‘D’ and it’ll do a reasonable job of preserving your forward momentum, but the more you ask of it, the less convincing it seems.