Trek. An indigenous South African word now used worldwide. Besides describing a slow or arduous journey, hike, or trip, it also has another meaning when used as a verb in Afrikaans: To draw attention, or to be attracted to, and in the case of the new Subaru Crosstrek, all of the above holds true.

Until now, the Subaru XV and Crosstrek names were used separately in different markets around the world (South Africa somewhat surprisingly accepting the XV name), but the Crosstrek nomenclature – coined from the words Crossover and Trekking (to imply its versatility and capability in a variety of terrains) – has now been adopted worldwide.

The original concept for the Crosstrek dates back to the Outback Sport, based on the Impreza, that was available in the US nearly three decades ago. The vehicle was then redesigned as a dedicated model, and the XV/Crosstrek made its worldwide debut 12 years ago. The compact SUV proved a hit overseas, and locally the XV/Crosstrek quickly became the most popular Subaru model next to the Forester. 


With the third-generation Crosstrek, built on a revised version of the Subaru Global Platform, the Japanese manufacturer has taken a bold step forward in terms of safety, refinement, comfort, and capability. Yet, styling is evolutionary, and one must look hard for design features distinguishing the newcomer from its XV predecessor.

It has a new hexagonal 3D grille flanked by sharper headlight clusters and bolder wheel arches with larger wheel arch cladding – compared to the outgoing model – and rocker panels around the vehicle. The Crosstrek features attractive new diamond-cut, duo-tone alloy wheels and seen from the rear, apart from the new nameplate, the contours of the C-shaped taillight clusters are more pronounced.

However, the most significant are on the inside and under the skin. The compact crossover carries forward the latest interior design and operation architecture as used in the new Outback and WRX models. The large, 11.6” central HD display with portrait layout took pride of place in our Magnetite Grey Metallic flagship Crosstrek 2.0i S model. 


Using the latest Subaru infotainment software, the touchscreen system integrates several onboard functions, including Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration and Bluetooth connectivity for audio and phone call operation.

However, the biggest (and most important) change is the availability of the innovative Driver Monitoring System and the EyeSight Driver Assistance system in the Crosstrek. The monitoring system audibly and visually warns you when it detects signs of sleepiness or a lack of attention, and uses facial recognition software to store and configure up to five individual driver profiles.

While it complements the already comprehensive safety suite in the newcomer, it can become intrusive with its constant warnings, much like the advanced EyeSight system, when it sometimes interferes unexpectedly. However, its pros outweigh the cons and, in our view, is the best safety system now available.

Another positive aspect is the stop-start system that does not shut the engine down immediately when the vehicle comes to a standstill but allows for a short idling period. We found this much less irritating than when the engine shuts down instantly at traffic lights or crossings.

Interior quality has also improved, with better trim and materials used, and cabin noise is less than before. The newly designed leather seats (with eight-way adjustable power operation for the driver’s seat) are comfortable, also on long trips. Remote Keyless Access and dual-zone climate control are standard, and added features include a new tyre pressure monitoring system and steering responsive LED headlights with Auto High Beam function. 

Revisions to the packaging and storage areas within the cabin include variable use cupholders, and at the rear, split-folding 60:40 rear seats increase overall cabin size. Nifty touches in the boot area include a new luggage pad, a new diamond-pattern trim finish and the introduction of an anti-slip surface at the entrance to the cargo area.


The new Crosstrek is still powered by the 2.0-litre, four-cylinder boxer engine as used in the XV, producing 115 kW at 6,000 rpm and 196 Nm of torque at 4,000 rpm. While not overly powerful, its good low-down torque delivery makes it easy to drive. The Lineartronic CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission) now has longer ratios, making it quieter and more efficient. 

Paddle shifters for manual mode operation through eight pre-set ratios are included, but we rarely used them. The standard Symmetrical All-Wheel-Drive system, active torque vectoring, and SI-Drive driving mode management system have also been carried over, but the dual-pinion steering system from the Subaru WRX gives a more direct steering feel and overall greater dynamic responsiveness.

With the new chassis, torsional rigidity has been improved by 10%, and the re-engineered suspension and liquid-filled engine mounts ensured a more stable and refined ride quality, but during our test runs, wind noise from the roof rails still intruded into the cabin. However, it seems underbody sound insulation has been improved.

While we did not do any serious off-roading, the Crosstrek should retain the capability of the XV with its driver-selectable X-Mode off-road management system with pre-configured modes for Snow/Dirt, Deep Snow and Mud assist, as well as Hill Assist and Hill Descent Control.


Overall, the new Crosstrek represents a significant improvement over its predecessor in all aspects, particularly in terms of advanced safety systems and interior quality. Priced at R669,000 for the flagship 2.0i S model, the Crosstrek now represents a compelling alternative to rivals such as the Nissan Qashqai (R670,600 for Acenta Plus Xtronic CVT) and Hyundai Kona (R641 900 for the1.6 TGDI N-Line DCT), Volkswagen T-Roc, Honda HR-V, Kia Seltos, and Mazda CX-30.

Besides, the Crosstrek also offers all-wheel-drive as standard, outperforming its competitors with good ground clearance and off-road competence. It is a much-improved all-around package (it may even entice potential Forester buyers) and an attractive proposition if you are in the market for a compact and capable adventure-ready crossover.

(kW @ r/min)
(Nm @ r/min)
0-100 KM/H
(l/100 km)
Subaru Crosstrek 2.0i SBoxer 4-cyl, 1,995 cc115 @ 6,000196 @ 4,00019310.77.2R669,000
Nissan Qashqai Acenta Plus Xtronic CVT In-line 4-cyl; 1,332 cc turbo110 @ 5,500250 @ 1,800-4,0002068.96.1R670,600

Report by FERDI DE VOS | Images © Subaru Southern Africa




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