Subaru XV Black, a 4x4 fit for a Duchess

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WINTER beckons and it is extremely unlikely it will be snow free like last winter so the thoughts of many motorists will now be about having a 4x4 in their garage as cover for keeping on the move when many two wheel drive cars are struggling to maintain traction writes Bryan Longworth.

I was extremely impressed by the all weather capabilities of Subaru shortly after they came to the UK some 40 years ago when they staged an off road Press driving day on mudddy Pennine hills and the vehicles kept going when even a Land Rover got stuck!

Now they are much more sophisticated with a formidable reputation - I know a Derbyshire Duchess who once owned a Scuby 4x4 - and one of their latest models the XV Black is a crossover vehicle based on the SE model and which now has a five year 100,000 mile warranty as standard to make it even more tempting.

The all Black XV four wheel drive is a limited edition available with either a 2.0-litre boxer diesel or petrol engine - my test car had the petrol engine with automatic transmission and was priced at £24,495 on the road.

Exclusively finished in black paintwork which looks rather smart the special edition car has a number of unique visual additions including front rear and side silver resin underguards, front and rear mudflaps, a cargo step panel and a foldable cargo tray with heavy duty rubber floor mats inside.

The extra kit costs the owner £1,000 over the SE model and if the extras were fitted seperately as options to other models in the range the total cost would be £1,600 so the XV Black represents good value for money.

Top speed is 116mph and zero to 62mph takes 10.7 seconds with the combined fuel consumption being 42.8mpg, CO2 emissions are 153g/km and the maximum towing capacity is 1200kg.

The XV Black has the highest ground clearance of any vehicle in its sector and lowest centre of gravity which helps to make it an ideal town and country car especially on muddy and snow covered roads for winter driving

Handling qualities were impressive especially on a bumpy and slippery off road track in the Peak District where there are numerous Subaru cars because owners in this part of the the world appreciate their ability to tackle severe driving conditions.

I found the interior to be rather sombre but roomy and comfortable with user friendly switchgear and instrumentation and it has a 90 per cent score for child occupant protection which Subaru say is one of the highest scores ever recorded making it ideal for young families.

Some drivers are not too keen on CVT automatic transmission but I had experience of CVT on a Qashqai I once owned and I found that on the test car it provided very smooth imperceptible changes which will make it tempting for potential owners wanting auto gears especially Motability owners.

The XV Black is a rather cool car for those wanting a distinctive Subaru and while black is not my favourite paintwork it is one of the most popular colours and this Scuby could be just the car for those looking for a 4x4 this winter.

Fact File

Model: Subaru XV Black.

Engine: 2.0-litre petrol Boxer.

Output: 150PS @ 6200rpm.

Transmission: Automatic.

Top speed: 116mph.

Acceleration: 0 to 62mph.

Fuel consumption: 42.8mpg.

CO2 emissions: 153g/km.

Price: £24,495.