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2016 Subaru XV STI Edition
Reasons why I bought this car
As a sales person clocking about 25k-30k/ year, my preference has always been a medium hatch. Living in the Klang Valley with a permanent flood phobia is a reality. Although I get excited over fancy gadgets, end of the day, I am an old soul -I'm perfectly comfortable with something that's simple and sturdy.
I often commute between city, highway and winding trunks roads so after test-driving pretty much every car within my budget in about 5 months, I decided on the XV. My previous car was a Toyota Wish 1.8 which served us as a work/ play/ family car extremely well for 6 years. Due to changes in family dynamics, a smaller car would do.
From owning my first Proton Iswara, Wira, Hyundai Getz and driving family cars like the Nissan Cefiro, Mercedes C180, Honda Jazz, Freed, Civic and Insight (NO, WE DO NOT WORK IN HONDA) -I've pretty much driven most of the regular Malaysian cars every produced over the past 20 years.
A Subaru was never in my radar because it's simply not seen as an everyday car or is it ? I mean -me ?? A middle age ajumma in an Impreza on high heels??? Mana boleh?
It would be much easier to buy another Toyota or Honda -afterall one can't fault the durability of a Toyota or the way Honda cars seem to be extremely fuel efficient with pretty responsive engines and having a cold aircon never hurts in Malaysian weather. The only exception was the Honda Freed which my cousin called Honda Freak as it had the strangest handling and gear ratios that I found hard to manage.
Car selection process
- I had a budget of RM: Between RM120,000
- Models that I have considered include: Disclaimer: I chose to sit behind during test drives -reason being during our balik kampung trips, I like to stretch out behind so one of the points for consideration is the back seats must be firm and not make me car sick -I also like to listen for any strange rattlings when i sit alone while the salesman ignores me and talks to my husband instead. I shortlisted: Mazda CX5, Honda HRV/CRV, Nissan X trail, Toyota Altis and just for fun the VW Polo Hatch.
Reasons why I chose this car
- This was a car that almost never made it in my radar although I was a Subaru fan since I was 19. I suppose the WRX is and will always be known as a rally car so in the words of my husband who yelled WHO WOULD WANNA BUY A SUBARU??, I finally bought it in Feb 2016 as a CNY present to myself. As I was approaching 40, this is one thing that I can tick off my bucket list - can finally own a Subaru (although the colour was not WRX blue)
- I am a pretty fussy person -I cannot tolerate squishy seats and bouncy suspensions especially during long distance trips where I sleep a lot at the back seat. Surprisingly, this car was pretty firm both for the driver and passengers.
- As much as I hated the turtle looking shape (am I the only one that thinks the bumper and back tyres are NOT ALIGNED?? ) and mosquito trap black on black interior of the basic model, the STI model was heavily discounted by end of 2015 and they threw in a 5 year full service package, I did my ajumma-onomics math and figured it was a pretty good bargain for the specs. I spoke to a lot of people and did my research especially on long term ownership and with hubby's blessings, I went for it.
- With the STI version, the silver aircon knobs and red stiching on the seats made it look slightly more palatable instead of screaming "1985 Japanese car interior."
- But, the main reason was the handling of the car. Nothing else I have ever driven gave me this degree of confidence or happiness.
- I'm not looking for 0-100 in 6 seconds and for me, its a really fun and sturdy car for daily driving and the occasional adrenaline rush when life gets abit predictable.
I have already done 850,00 km.
EXHILARATING (WHEN YOU WANT IT TO BE)
Let's not get too excited -end of the day I call this car a poor man's Impreza -ordinary and gets the job done.
This car is still the same as it was from Day 1 -plus minus dustbin/ curb scratches - except for new tyres and Subaru Ipoh managed to get rid of this strange occasional rattling noise which the mechanic found out was coming from the bars -I lived with that noise for 2 years !!
I'm a mum, a wife, a salesperson, occasional uncivilised driver and bad parker. (this car has both reverse cam AND sensors -lottery for ladies)
My hyper-ensitive ears are rather spoiled by my Toyota Wish's beautiful sound-roofing and hubby's peaceful cars that my first time driving alone on the highway gave me a shock -it was raining and I recalled yelling WHAT'S THAT SOUND??
So far, except for noise and poor insulation (which I have learnt to accept -I changed the lousy stock tyres to Michelin Primacy and wheel bearing warranty by Subaru, I've had a positive experience with it. However, if I wanted a more refined and peaceful ride, the Mazda CX5 and Nissan X trail is better for sure.
All that being said, noise, refinement, cosy feeling is thrown out my common sense window the moment we hit any wet, winding, uneven roads -that's when the DNA of Subaru's AWD and flat- boxer engine truly comes to life. At that moment, I just have to work with the car and trust that it will keep me and my passengers safe .
Total Score: 4
Quality & Features: 4
Ride Comfort: 4
Fuel Economy: 4
Price & Cost: 4
Pros & Cons
- Superb handling and confidence in extreme weather conditions thanks to the AWD technology (but make sure your brakes and tyres are good too)
- Comfortable and firm seats for 4 passengers with good quality leather- 5 is a tight squeeze (no cracking or burst stitching even with 2 growing boys)
- Decent fuel consumption if one is light footed
- Has both reverse sensors and rear cameras
- Decent mileage with the 60 liter tank (480-520km on town)/ 550-00 on mix, and I usually get close to 800 plus on full highway
- Unimaginative design inside and outside
- The shoe box -I mean boot space is not for shopaholics (like my son once said -cannot even hide a dead body) -but the seats do fold flat and I have transported sofas before)
- Only 3 airbags while industry standard is 4-7
- Awful sound insulation-not surprising coming from Tan Chong Motors which is famous for that plus paper thin paint work. Either turn up your radio or use earbuds
- Lately, my ECU seems to be lagging causing slower pickup
- Potentially expensive parts once the warranty ends
- Not easily serviced outside from Subaru as there are only a handful of specialists
- No keyless/ push start
Some interesting events
Several times, the AWD traction kicked in when the car nearly slid off the road in heavy rain and huge puddles.
From scary drives along Karak highway in the pouring rain to carrying gigantic curry chicken buns from Lukut to Nilai on the trunk roads, I can't really decide which was more fun or crazy (screaming with my buddy while trying not to smash the buns)
My favourite would be driving downhill from Menora Tunnel and watching bigger cars braking really hard trying not to fly off the road (scary and stupid IMO)
I miss zooming up and down a short stretch in Bukit Putus in Kuala Pilah (as a WRX owner told me that's his sweet spot)
The winding and bumpy trails of Grik-eli and Gua Musang route and maybe drive past the beautiful Belum rainforest and take a breather at the resort is something I wish we can all do soon.
Our family loves road trips and so far, the XV has been one of my favourites. Sure, it has a host of short-omings but the heart wants what it wants and let's face it -there's no such thing as THE PERFECT CAR. As a regular work and play car, I really cannot ask for more.
But as hubby asked me the other day -what car would I want as my next car ? -without missing a beat -I said -"Subaru XV GT edition in dark blue please" -coming from a person that can eat chicken rice everyday -that's pretty loyal.
Thank you for reading and stay healthy wherever you are.
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