The Subaru Levorg is a mid-size wagon clearly from the same lineage as the fourth-generation Impreza/WRX - in fact reducing its description to a posher WRX estate isn’t far off the mark. It’s actually billed as a successor to the Liberty GT wagon, sharing a similar body style and being very close dimensionally.
Like the car that Subaru previously filled this niche with, the left-field Levorg is plenty practical and more packed with technology than most other cars in their stable. It’s powered by a turbocharged horizontally-opposed 2.0-litre Boxer four-cylinder engine and sends power to all four wheels via the marque’s Symmetrical all-wheel drive system, making it both quick and sure-footed at all speeds.
Upon entering the market, the Levorg will come up against wagon versions of some of the most popular mid-tier family sedans such as the Ford Mondeo estate, Mazda6 Touring, Volvo V60, Skoda Octavia, and even Opel-derived 2018 Holden Commodore Sportwagon.
Like all Subaru’s, the design and engineering focus was geared more toward function than flair. It looks solid, certainly, but some would have preferred more exterior pizzaz with a greater smattering of eye-catching details. But that’s not the Subaru way.
The Levorg clearly follows this same philosophy, it’s a purposeful exterior and it’s build quality certainly reflects this but there are subtle hints like that hood scoop and the sharp lines that portend a more refined as well as sporty addition to the wagon landscape.
Buyers will have the option of choosing from the base GT, better-equipped mid-spec GT-S, and finally the more performance-oriented GT-S spec.B which draws heavily from Subaru’s STI parts bin.
But Subaru’s newfound stride has, like many other automakers, stemmed from the crossover and SUV arenas. It was because many customers chose high-riding ‘soft-roaders’ that cars like the Liberty GT wagon slowly disappeared from showrooms in the first place. Is Subaru’s new Levorg enough of a marvel turn the tide?
“Subaru claims the Levorg is small enough to attract women, yet beefy enough to prevent blokes from getting too in touch with their feminine side.” - Wheels
Imagining that pivotal meeting where the design of the Levorg was conceived isn’t too difficult. The team responsible for the project must have had a simple brief: create a modern successor to the loved all-wheel drive wagons of the company’s past.
Taking the fourth-generation WRX as a base, the Levorg would carry over much of that car’s strengths, at least stylistically. Its front end, with that hood-mounted air scoop, is immediately discernible and evokes images of Subaru’s rallying exploits.
But to make the Levorg appear more grown-up, the designers added some very clear character lines and stripped away any unnecessary visual noise while maintaining the WRX’s inherent muscularity. They also gave it a swept back profile and subtly tapering roofline that’s only appreciable at certain angles.
If you’re a fan of how this car looks, you’ll be pleased to know that even the base GT variant ranks high on the visual front. It comes standard with those striking 18-inch alloys whose pattern is shared with the GT-S.
It’s only if you opt for the GT-S spec.B that the Levorg takes on a very different tone, one based upon the aesthetic established by Subaru’s performance arm, STI. Here, a dark bodykit is applied along with STI-branded spoilers, a set 18-inch black alloys, and even more components hidden from view to improve handling.
Engine and Drivetrain
“Like the WRX the Levorg has Subaru’s excellent all-wheel drive system, which is as much a safety feature as a handling one.” - CarsGuide
Whichever grade of Levorg you choose, though, you’re guaranteed some impressive outputs from the 2.0-litre turbocharged Boxer four-pot (FA20). This sole engine option gives the car hot-hatch like pace. Every unit sold here produces 197kW and 350Nm, which is enough grunt for a 6.6-second sprint to 100km/h.
Like all cars under the Subaru banner (with exception of the BRZ), this one is equipped with their excellent (and permanent) all-wheel system called Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive (or SAWD for short) with torque vectoring. And just like it having a single engine option, a single transmission is mated to it: Subaru’s Lineartronic CVT or Continuously Variable Transmission.
That being said, this powertrain isn’t the most adept at balancing performance with fuel economy. Subaru claims 8.7-litres/100km over a combined cycle, which is only average, but expect higher real world figures as it lacks the idle-stop feature that most of its rivals include.
At normal driving speeds, this powertrain combination is a very calm performer, mostly thanks to that transmission, which is a double-edged sword. The engine burbles away as one might expect of a Boxer turbo, but when the mood strikes, the wide peak torque band (2,400-5,200rpm) can make quick work of an overtaking opportunity. In all, the engine can make the Levorg feel more like a hot hatch than a practical family wagon.
The CVT, though, is where the criticisms are most present. Tied to this characterful an engine, the Lineartronic takes some lumps as not being the most natural dance partner as opposed to, say, a very well sorted torque converter automatic or dual-clutch.
To the Levorg’s credit, its positioning as a more refined cruiser makes the case for the more relaxed CVT is easier to justify than having to deal with it in the WRX and the stepped ratios accessed via the paddle shifters do a decent job of mimicking a fixed gear set.
“The front cloth seats of the base model GT are a little underwhelming in appearance and unsupportive if you intend to go fast around corners, providing minimal side support.” - CarAdvice
Subaru has made a name for itself for having well-built, logical interiors. Here the Levorg carries on those same values but looks and feels more sophisticated than the similarly laid out WRX. Despite that inevitable resemblance on account of the two cars sharing so much under the skin, Subaru’s engineers seemed to have evolved the template a fair bit here.
Overall, it’s a high quality cabin, with leather and other soft touch materials prevalent wherever your hands can reach. This is interjected with accents of exposed aluminium and glossy piano black finishes and an electric sunroof (GT-S and higher). Subaru’s approach to interiors is somewhat similar to that of Volkswagen with their no-nonsense layouts and emphasis on solidity.
The driving position is nicely judged and is aided by good pedal placement and plenty of scope for seat and steering wheel adjustment. There’s an improved 6.2-inch centrally mounted infotainment screen that’s standard in the GT while higher grades get a 7.0-inch unit with navigation. Visibility is also fair all around and the wing mirrors placed away from the A-pillars helps in this regard. Conversely, the Levorg could do without the often obstructive vehicle information screen located above the dash.
The leather seats in the GT-S are a highlight and quite comfortable especially up front, with a nice texture and welcome contrast stitching. This being a wagon, the rear passengers are treated to an airy environment with ample headroom and shoulder space. However, the Levorg is only middling in terms of legroom, but isn’t pokey by any means.
Naturally, the boot space is going to be a strong point, and can swallow up any conceivable cargo needs of any potential buyer or reformed SUV owner. The 522-litre figure is good, but competitors do offer slightly more if that’s a prime concern. With the rear seats folded, however, the Levorg’s capacity expands to a cavernous 1,446-litres. More than enough for that modest furniture haul.
Behind The Wheel
“It encourages you to push a little harder – you could even call it fun to drive.” - AutoExpress
With such a strong relation to their rally-bred sedan, the Levorg’s dynamic talents would seem a foregone conclusion. But to not trample on their signature performance model too much, Subaru has developed the Levorg to be a better all-rounder. One still very capable but more accessible.
In most cases, the Levorg does feel eerily close to the WRX to drive, though the softer suspension in the GT and more forgiving mannerisms soon dispel that illusion. Given its size, and in spite of the slightly ponderous transmission, the Levorg it does acquit it very well on the road.
It feels taut around bends with a front end that’s eager to bite into an apex, with the GT-S more suited to this thanks to its uprated but quite jittery Bilstein suspension. The all-wheel drive systems contribute to this and you can sometimes feel it working to translate your input through the steering rack into a solid driving line even in imperfect circumstances.
Unless pushed very hard, it’s quite difficult to get the Levorg to step out of line or break composure. It’s less of a playful car than one that’s very effective on the road. Having said that, the car’s suspension is on the firmer side of things, even with the base GT, which is most evident at lower speeds, with Subaru outfitting it with stiffer springs and bushings as well as a stronger anti-roll bar during the WRX conversion.
With a laundry list of more performance-oriented components, the Levorg GT-S spec.B is even more of a fussy ride at slower speeds, but not that much more than the GT-S. There’s no doubt that these contribute to a more communicative and engaging car up a mountain road or on a track, though.
Safety and Technology
“The interior is a step up when compared to Subaru’s WRX STI. This is mostly down to the integrated, touch-screen satnav, which looks and feels modern.” - EVO
The Levorg shares the same structure as the Subaru WRX and so performed identically well in crash tests. ANCAP awards it with 5-stars, performing very well in the collision deformation and being praised for its generous suite of active safety features.
All grades come standard with seven airbags and Subaru’s EyeSight Driver Assist system that uses forward facing cameras to detect potential hazards and offer advanced pre-collision braking and steering assistance quicker than the driver can react. In addition, the Levorg also features blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, lane change assist, reversing camera and headlights with automatic high beam.
We’ve touched on the newer Starlink infotainment system in the Levorg but it’s worth mentioning again as it really is step up from what we used to with Subaru. Instead of feeling like an aftermarket screw-in, the unit here feels very integrated with the car’s interior.
Both the 6.2-inch and 7-inch panel are fairly responsive, resolution is good, and in general the interface is easy to navigate. However, we would have liked to see Subaru make a larger stride here with support for Apple CarPlay and/or Android Auto.
The Levorg is a rather complete package if you’re looking for a practical, stylish, decently quick, and agile estate. It’s also worth considering if you’re keen on exploring some unconventional options. But with rivals that out do it in some key areas, the Levorg stumbles by not having a clear advantage over, say, the Ford Mondeo wagon or Volvo V60.
It’s also quite a pricey option, and if practicality is your most pressing criteria, there are SUVs that will serve that need better. What those cars probably would fail at, though, is matching the Levorg’s unique merging of performance and function.
It’s a car that can be all things to all people where a similarly sized crossovers will be left for dead as the Levorg speeds away. For those pining for a next-generation Liberty GT wagon, though, the Levorg is indeed a worthy successor.
AutoExpress - 3/5 - “High running costs, a firm ride and a compromised powertrain count against it, but its eager and sporty nature offers something rivals do not.”
EVO - 3.5/5 - “The Levorg is a capable car, and if traversing slippy terrain was something you needed to do regularly, it would be a dependable machine. But its less than engaging drive, predominantly due to its gearbox,”
Wheels - Levorg makes sense as a grand tourer. Comfortable, powerful, sharp like a Zegna suit and with buckets of room behind the back seat, it’s ideal for a weekend escape. But it’s no WRX, however close to relationship.”
CarAdvice - 8/10 - “…the 2017 Subaru Levorg is a car that many have been asking for, but not many may buy. Preferring instead to forgo its performance credentials for the SUV character of models like the Forester.”
Motoring - 7.9/100 “…the Levorg is a very convincing package – especially for those who are already inclined to the Subaru brand. Compared with its three obvious competitors, the Levorg holds the advantage, whether in terms of pricing, packaging, performance or traction.”
CarsGuide - 4.5/5 - “You might not win too many drag races, but you’ll catch them in the corners. Then you’ll climb out of it and remember it’s a wagon. A wagon with better boot space and towing capacity than many small SUVs and a billion times more fun to drive.”