IF there were such a thing as a WRX STi wagon in the Subaru stable, the 2017 Subaru Levorg GT-S spec.B could easily be mistaken for it, because even though there isn’t such a thing, the spec.B certainly feels like that’s the role it’s here to fill.
Modelled essentially to be the Liberty wagon (rather than a WRX STi wagon), the spec.B carries a host of STi add-ons, and drew attention every where it went. At the local shopping centre, for example, it sparked a load of discussion and questions. Basically this thing has presence.
The car sits well on the road and appears to be a little lower than its GT-S stablemate, and the large bonnet scoop hints at power and speed. Our road test car was painted Pure Red, and rode on the wicked looking 18-inch STi wheels, with a sleep looking body kit and plenty of STi badging rounding out the look and feel.
Under the hood, with its massive air intake, sits a 2.0-litre four cylinder turbo petrol engine, pumping out 197kW of power and 350Nm of torque, butted up against a smooth and responsive 8-speed CVT gearbox and a solid all-wheel-drive package putting the power to the ground across all four wheels.
The economy is not bad either (Subaru claims 8.7L/100km but we could only manage 9.6L/100km), and there are three different drive settings to help you tame the beast or set the 2.0ltr turbo charged boxer engine free to be punchy and sporty (if not a little twitchy).
Those three modes, as any good Subaru owner already knows, are I, S(I) and S# (or as we like to call them; normal, sporty and unhinged).
On the down side, the ‘I’ mode is flat, and take off at the lights left a little to be desired – it’s underdone. For normal driving, S(I) offers the best spot to give you more pep whilst maintaining some control. On the S# setting however, you can put your foot down at the lights and you’re doing 80km/h before you know it.
Zero-100 is claimed at 6.6 seconds, and while we didn’t run the stop watch hard, we reckon we achieved it.
The steering in the Levorg GT-S spec.B feels like it lacks a certain something on the feedback front overall, but we’re not sure it lives up to the STi pedigree it claims to have. Along Sydney’s Mona Vale Rd and the turn off to Church Point via Akuna Bay the car handled well but would have been better with more feedback from the road to the driver.
But it’s definitely still a fun drive, and the ride quality is good. Not great, but good, and the more you drive it, the better you feel about it. It grows on you as you learn the nuances of the spec.B and the way in which it wants to behave on the road.
As expected, the ride is a little stiffer in this car, and it seemed to handle every corner well enough (and it definitely corners a thousand times better than your usual hatch or wagon), but the rear of the car felt like it had too much bounce to it, especially noticeable across shopping centre car park speed bumps.
The road noise is surprisingly high too, despite an exceptionally quiet motor (it’s all noise through the tyres and the road – perhaps a different rubber choice could resolve this issue). The exhaust note feels restrained too under power, it certainly could have sounded beefier.
Subaru’s incredible technology brings this car into its own though, and the cruise control is a brilliant piece of kit across the range, radar cruise control slows the vehicle with the traffic and leaves room for emergency action if required and will almost drive itself, all you have to do is steer (self-drive is not that far away surely).
A small tap on the accelerator will get it going again to speed, again leaving plenty of room in front all thanks to Subaru’s excellent third-generation Eye-Sight stereo camera detection system.
If you want a car that can take on most of the work and provide you with safer options this could be the one for you, and if used smartly could save you from speeding fines and rear ending the car in front, all while reducing your road rage.
The only criticism of the system is it is a little late on the brakes which we found slightly disturbing. At slow speeds it was fine but at higher speeds we still tended to do the braking rather than rely on the electronics.
Also standard on the spec.B is Subaru’s High Beam Assist, which will drop your high beam back when the system detects an oncoming vehicle. We found this to be a great feature while doing any night country driving especially.
The 6.2-inch infotainment touchscreen is great too. Easy to operate as long as you are prepared to be fearless with touch screen technology. If not, then the owners-manual will be a great help. Pairing a phone to the system was easy and sound was very clear, either with music or phone calls.
We found the navigation maps to be slightly out of date which is a little disappointing but not unusual for most car makers. On the up side in the tech department, there are USB charging points everywhere, five in all, making adding a gazillion devices to your journey an easy task.
Staying inside, the interior is magic. Everything is leather – seats, steering wheel, gear knob and dash. It makes for a very nice place to be and all comes standard. The only improvement we would make is seat cooling as well as heating, and better lower back support. All-in-all quite comfortable though and certainly quality.
The driver’s seat is electric as well, making it easy to be comfortable with everything close at hand and in reach. The trim looks well finished and expensive. As an added touch, the spec.B has STi stitched into the leather on the gear knob and a red start button.
The rear seats have great head room, something some manufacturers forget about, but the middle seat belt coming from the roof in the boot space was a little off-putting (although it seems to be becoming the norm). That said, there’s plenty of room to hold a family of five and all the gear for a weekend away or just doing the weekly shop.
Boot space is excellent (486 litres – which is bigger than the Forester), with room enough for bikes or prams, and the rear seats pretty much lay flat when required, giving plenty of length for a longer load (the seats could have done with a bit more height though).
We really liked the Levorg GT-S spec-B overall. It’s the pick of the model range, and is suitable as a daily driver that ticks all the power and performance boxes when you need them. The build quality is exceptional, the leather work is top notch and the driving experience is solid.
Would we have one in the garage, probably. The girl racer in our team was impressed by all the spec.B had to offer as a family performance car as well. It’s priced at a respectable $52,890 (plus on-road costs), and comes in a great range of colours including the Pure Red we had, Crystal White Pearl, Lapis Blue Pearl, Crystal Black Silica, Steel Blue Grey Metallic, Ice Silver Metallic and Dark Grey Metallic.
Our test vehicle was supplied by Subaru Australia. To find out more about the 2017 Subaru Levorg GT-S spec.B, contact your local Subaru dealer.
Road Test: 2017 Subaru Levorg GT-S spec.B
Pros – exterior styling; punchy boxer engine; dash layout.
Cons – too much road noise; ride needs improving; accelerator lag in S(I) mode.