Sounds a bit like a new alien race from Star Trek, doesn’t it?

Subaru say the Levorg name is a combination of Legacy, Revolution and Touring, and that this new model – a sort of niche within a niche – is designed to take over where the old Legacy Tourer left off.

I’ve puzzled over this because… well, why not just produce a new Legacy Tourer, a wagon based on the rather handsome Legacy saloon that doesn’t currently make its way to our shores?

The answer – at least to my mind – lies in the way it drives. Because the Levorg must surely be one of the best handling estate cars on the market today.

The Levorg must be one of the best handling estate cars on the market today.

Sure, the Legacy was hardly limp when it came to road-holding, but in comparison to some of Subaru’s other offerings, it was definitely wearing chinos and a pair of sensible shoes.

The Levorg, by comparison, sits far closer to the balls-out WRX STI with which it shares much of the design of its front end – gaping bonnet scoop and all.

The interior, too, will be familiar to anyone who’s sat in a WRX recently, although Subaru say this is their most refined cabin yet.

It’s certainly home to some of the highest-grade materials we’ve seen from the Japanese manufacturer, particularly the well-bolstered leather seats finished with rather alluring contrasting blue stitching, and the chunky steering wheel that feels great in the hands.

Subaru’s latest touch-screen media and navigation system with its appealing single-sheet-of-glass look – reminiscent of high-end TVs and first seen in the Outback – makes a welcome appearance, complete with DAB digital radio, and although it can be a little slow at giving voice guidance on roundabouts, its traffic information functions are excellent.

Rear seat passengers get their own USB charging ports, as well as respectable amounts of foot- and head-room.

And this wouldn’t be a Subaru wagon without a practical cargo area; 522 litres of it, in fact, rising to 1,446 litres with the seats folded, a process that’s easy to accomplish thanks to switches in the boot walls that drop the seat backs in one, simple motion, leaving behind an almost totally flat load floor.

There’s also a pair of handy underfloor compartments, including a space to store the load cover when not in use, plus a multitude of hooks and tie-down points.

Power for all of this comes from a new turbocharged 1.6-litre ‘Boxer’ petrol engine developing 170PS and 250Nm of torque. Its other on-paper figures are respectable, too, with 0-62mph taken care of in 8.9 seconds, while emitting 164 g/km and achieving up to 39.8 mpg (although we averaged around 33 mpg during our time with it).

Subaru claims this is their most refined powertrain yet, and while we miss the characterful off-beat thrum of their other Boxer units, once up to speed noises from the engine bay are almost entirely absent.

The Levorg impresses with its insulation from both road and wind noise, too.

But endearing as all of this is, it’s the driving experience that has us sold on the Levorg.

Stuff the Levorg into a series of corners and you’ll be amazed at both the levels of grip from the all-wheel-drive chassis, and at how little body-roll there is.

Clearly the influence of the WRX extends beyond just the way it looks.

Clearly the influence of the WRX extends beyond just the way it looks.

Shame, then, that it’s only available with the company’s Lineartronic continuously-variable transmission.

We’re not fans of CVT units generally, and although Subaru’s is far better than most, it does rob the Levorg of much of its sporting character.

If the Levorg had a manual gearbox, and you were following one through a series of twisties in anything other than an STI, chances are you’d struggle to keep up, especially in the wet. It really is that good.

For an engineering-led company like Subaru, I’m surprised they haven’t come up with a dual-clutch transmission of their own. In one combined unit, the firm could provide a fully automatic mode for those that prefer it, plus a more engaging experience for the enthusiastic driver. All while still returning the efficiency gains that the company cites as part of their reason for clinging to the idea of CVT. It could be one gearbox to rule them all.

There is one other problem, however. While for the most part the suspension goes about its business quietly, transferring hardly any noises into the cabin, the damper settings are a long way from ideal for UK roads.

Large undulations cause the body control to get a bit wild, and there are some sections on one of our test routes where it feels like you might bounce right off the road.

This, I’m sure, is something Subaru will be able to sort out.

Because if you put our feelings about the Lineartronic transmission to one side, the Levorg represents all the best bits of Subaru, in one engaging package.

Tester’s Notes

  • Familiar cabin design but with welcome premium materials – soft leather, contrast stitching, etc.
  • Infotainment system has pleasing design and works well, although StarLink remains largely pointless
  • Practical cargo area – one-touch folding seats, underfloor compartments, space for cargo cover
  • 1.6-litre Boxer engine arrives just in time to capitalise on possible diesel backlash
  • Lineartronic only – robs Levorg of its considerable sporting character
  • Exceptional grip and handling prowess marred only by poor damping – hits bump-stops on some undulations, slow to recover
  • 33mpg on test
Entry-level Price £27,495 Price as tested £27,495
Engine 1.6-litre 4-cyl ‘Boxer’ petrol Transmission CVT Auto
Power 170ps @ 4,800-5,600rpm Torque 250Nm @ 1,800-4,800rpm
0-62 8.9 secs Top speed 130 mph
Economy 39.8 mpg CO2 164 g/km
Dimensions 4690 x 1795 x 1465 (LxWxH) Kerb Weight 1531 kg

Alex Kefford

Editor

Freelance journalist, ex-offroad driving instructor and long distance road-tripper. If you have any questions about this piece, feel free to hit me up on Twitter.