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To hill and back

With its Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive system, the Subaru XV showed excellent road adhesion even in the tightest of climbing turns


COOLING off at Fort San Pedro, Cebu’s No. 1 heritage site

It was around that time in my life when I was too young to drive but old enough to turn the pages of Playboy. Subaru was an ad, a brand. It was a car, a vehicle. It was something to, well, dream of someday owning.

But in a world dominated by Toyotas and Mitsubishis, and Saraos, it never stood much of a chance. There were practically no Subarus to be seen in real life and, in my consciousness, it competed with the other attractions of Playboy so…

How things have changed. If our trip down south to Cebu some days ago is any indication, Subaru is poised to become a very viable option on our list of choices of the cars we can bring into our lives.

With dealerships open and about to open in Cebu, Davao, Cagayan de Oro and Bacolod, the delivery and support system is being put into place. This, of course, is vital in keeping us assured that we won’t need to search the Internet or troll Banaue for spare parts when we need them.

CROSSING the Mactan Bridge

Hosting us are young entrepreneurs Lyndon Go and Brian Chua, who have brought Subaru to Cebu. They also happen to own the Suzuki dealership for the city, but this time it is the Subaru brand that has them all pepped up and so excited.

Who wouldn’t be? Subaru has always been one of the more respected and enduring among the Japanese car brands. But while it has carved for itself a niche market in the United States and elsewhere, it has been more like a novelty for us here in the country.

We actually know what we are missing. For years Subaru has been known for quality engineered cars that emphasized safety and superior handling. Any list that recommends what cars to buy in the United States always includes a Subaru.

This year it is the XV that is at the forefront and, traveling west, crossing the island of Cebu, gives us a chance to experience its raw power and responsive handling. The road to Balamban, Cebu, is a winding mountain road that traverses hills that didn’t quite grow up with the discipline of the Chocolate Hills of Bohol, so the ups and downs of life have been magnified quite a bit.

THE ENTOURAGE caught in the downtown Cebu traffic

It is the perfect venue to test and feel the Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive uniqueness of the XV. Subaru has never been big about the “front-wheel drive vs. rear-wheel drive” debate, so it resolved the issue by making all four wheels move the car. Always.

With all wheels engaging the road, the XV showed its excellent road adhesion that kept it stable and balanced even in the tightest of climbing turns. There is a heightened sense to acceleration as the distribution of power to all wheels obviously maximizes handling and traction.

The traditional Boxer engine is the powerplant that runs the XV, and the responsive power on demand that it delivers assures you of that surge in acceleration anytime you really need it. With tricycles hugging the road, impatience getting the better of you and jeepneys zooming past on the opposite lane, that is indeed a comforting thought.

DRIVING to tops for a glimpse of Cebu City

All these because the XV has been described as a crossover SUV, equally at home in the city and the highway as well as on any adventure drive that takes you to unpaved trails. The transmission effortlessly switches from manual to automatic and the paddle shifters give you a chance to “downshift” and “upshift” like you would with a manual transmission.

With the sporty features out of the way, there has to be something to be said about the safety features built into the XV. After all, the family jewels are not the only precious cargo that’s going to be driven around.

There is occupant protection through an energy-absorbing body structure—in short and simple language, that means the car collapses unto itself absorbing the force of the impact thus minimizing effects on the cabin. Although pretty much the standard safety concept followed by all car manufacturers today, it should be nice to know that the Subaru XV has a 5-star Euro NCAP rating which is the highest possible for a motor vehicle.

Car buffs will always be turned on by the technical mumbo jumbo specs that are more correct than appropriate, so if I lost you at “Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive” then Lyndon Go has this to say:

THE MEDIA drive participants visit the Pedro Calungsod church

“We don’t think the typical car buyer needs to get into the very technical details of the XV.”

“What we do is ask our buyers to take it out for a drive and feel the difference. We are confident that the car will sell itself through the experience.”

The talkers are done with the talking. Now the takers need to do the taking.

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Tags: Motoring , Subaru XV

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