- Published: Monday, 11 January 2016 23:11
Despite what it looks like, this isn’t a Subaru Impreza WRX Wagon. Those went extinct from price lists quite some time ago (and we’re talking non-WRX Imprezas there…) but for fans of stealth wagons that go quick-ish, you’re now in luck with the Levorg.
Confusingly, that name is amalgamation select letters from the words ‘Legacy’, ‘revolution’ and ‘touring’. Even more confusing is the fact that this isn’t a Legacy wagon with a sake-drenched name - there still is a Legacy sedan on the price-lists.
In fact, under the skin, the Levorg has the same underpinnings as the current Impreza WRX - the wheelbase is in fact the same, at 2,650mm, some 100mm shorter than the Legacy. Overseas the Levorg is also offered with the same 2.0-litre, turbo flat four engine that makes 264bhp, but in Singapore the sole variant is the 1.6-litre GT-S, as tested here.
You don’t have to squint much to imagine this is a WRX wagon though, thanks to the big wheels, the square-aggro styling and the bonnet scoop. The lower air intake section is less fiercely-styled than the ‘real’ WRX, and it makes do with just two tailpipes (fact: all ‘real’ modern performance cars have four tailpipes) but visually it’s really not far off.
That ‘WRX-y’ feeling continues on the inside, with supportive sport seats, leather upholstery, all featuring blue stitching and exactly the same layout as the WRX sedan but without the faux carbon fibre (which is an improvement) and red instruments.
There’s a decent haul of equipment here too, with the seats, sunroof, infotainment system, Bluetooth connectivity, xenon headlights, steering wheel controls, start-stop and keyless-go all standard. As a wagon it can haul 522-litres until you flip down the rear seats (with a button too - quite a stand-out feature in this segment) and increase the space to a massive 1,446-litres.
Even the chassis is the same, with an identical suspension setup - MacPherson front, double-wishbone rear - and Subaru’s all-wheel drive system at work too.
Does it drive like a WRX? In some ways very much so: The handling is agile, the steering packs decent feel and good weight, while the ride quality is good, being stiff but not overly busy. Overall it delivers interesting thrills for the driver, even if it does pitch a little excessively over certain bumps, but at least you don’t have to provide your own Boxer soundtrack thanks to the 1.6-litre turbo flat four.
The drivetrain though, is the sticking point of whether it’s ‘WRX-y’ or not: There’s 370Nm of turbo torque and 170bhp of power, but it somehow gets lost in translation, likely through the murky CVT gearbox. There are six ‘ratios’ you can paddle shift your way through, but it simply doesn’t feel as muscular as the spec sheet suggests. Hence it’s quick, but not outright fast and, likely due to the AWD system, it’s not particularly efficient either.
Yet the Levorg does represent something one-of-a-kind here. Hot wagons are scarce on the ground at this price range - there’s Hyundai’s hugely underrated i40 wagon which is almost as powerful with its 2.0-litre, 166bhp engine, but has much more moderate aims, like Chevy’s much cheaper, less powerful 1.4 turbo Cruze wagon does.
The Levorg won’t be a world-conquering, best-selling model, just as the WRX and Legacy wagons weren’t, but it’s a unique, enjoyable modern Subaru that has more than a dash of the brand’s sporting heritage. As long as they don’t make a ‘Spec Y’ version, it’s a solid choice of semi-performance wagon.
Subaru Levorg 1.6 GT-S
Engine 1,600cc, 16V, flat 4, turbocharged
Power 170bhp at 4800-5600rpm
Torque 370Nm at 1800-4800rpm
Top Speed 210km/h
0-100km/h 8.9 seconds
Fuel efficiency 7.6L/100km
Price $126,700 with COE
Also Consider: Chevrolet Cruze Wagon, Hyundai i40 Wagon