Photo credit Car & Driver

This is the XV concept, or “looks bin” to pull from for the next XV. Basically, its much wider, shorter and a little longer and aside from looking like a squashed concept version of the current RAV4 its a smart update to one of Subaru’s best selling little hatches. That being said, I think Subaru needs to be really careful here with the XV not to grow it up too much, the people who love the XV love that its the cheapest way to buy and run an AWD adventure machine and messing with that formula too much isn’t going to do sales the wonders that Subaru might think.

The XV buyer doesn’t need more car, more features, more style or more wheel (what are those...19's?) No, do you know what the XV really needs? It needs a new engine.

There are really only 2 complaints about the XV from loyal buyers:

1. Slow

2. Not that great of mileage for how slow it is. Did I mention slow?

I mean sure more space is nice and styling is important too but its the engine that’s the universal letdown in the current XV.

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Mazda ran into this problem with the CX3 with its launch on the single available 2.0 skyactive engine...that was immediately panned as being “okay but not great” in both power and economy departments. Mazda wisely ponied up and brought out a 2.5 that solved both issues and sales were improved. The trouble is that even light cars are getting heavy and they need the additional torque of a larger engine to get things moving.

Subaru could do the same thing, swapping out the inadequate FB20b 2.0 L which makes a so-so 148 hp way up at 6000 rpm and 145 lbs-ft or torque at an equally high 4200, and plop in the near identically sized FB25b 2.5 L with an extra 22 hp but more critically 29 more lbs-ft with no weight or packaging penalties. That would be the easy solution. The trouble with that is that it discourages people from looking at legacy based stuff or the forester a little higher up in the range and it also affect Subaru’s CAFE targets...or at least on paper it does.

The smart solution, in my mind, would be a totally new (the US shores) engine for their small cars that would deliver on the power, or more importantly the low end power, fuel economy and differentiate it from the others in the line; its called the FB16DIT.

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As you might guess its the same FB engine that’s in there now, only smaller...and with a turbo. Subaru’s LOVE turbos! This little 1.6 puts out a lovely 168 hp, on par with the bigger 2.5, but a nice meaty 184 lbs-ft of torque right down low where its needed. The best part? it doesn’t need anything special to fit, to the rest of the car its just a more powerful version of the FB that’s already in there, its plug and play (more or less).

The downside is that its going to cost more to make a turbo engine that a NA one and that will bring the price up which is counter to what I said earlier, but I think if you offer it as an only choice and built it in volume the price increase would be minimal but it would pay big dividends in emissions, mpg and consumer sentiment.

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People have been calling for a WRX XV for a while but lets be honest...that aint happening...however an XV with a 6 speed manual, and a turbo 1.6 might be just the right middle ground between the XV’s traditional buyers (read: people who used to buy outbacks before they became SUV’s) and Subaru’s more fun loving crowd.

Wow, that was more words than I thought I would need for this.