The big fella was halfway up a bank and among scrub when we stopped the car. He wandered down to check it out, looked back to see where we’d come from, then sauntered off to resume grazing.
No big deal – he’s probably used to seeing cars on the road that meanders for around 60km high and low through the Nevis Valley between Bannockburn and Gaston. Not at this time of the year though, because it’s closed from June until the end of September.
The Japanese carmaker is calling the Levorg GT–S the station wagon with the heart of a sports car. It’s the spiritual replacement for the Legacy GT, dropped from the New Zealand range in 2014.
It is priced at $56,990, offers 522 litres of cargo space, and is powered by the engine from the high-performance WRX. “It’s a driver’s car,” says Subaru NZ managing director Wallis Dumper.
As such, Subaru is aiming it at families that need the practicality and space of a dynamic wagon rather than an SUV. The name is a contraction of ‘Legacy … revolution … touring’ and will be used worldwide, unlike the Legacy.
Dumper expects to sell the entire 2016 allocation of 120 examples when Levorg goes on sale next month. It is Subaru’s first all-new model since the BRZ coupe landed in NZ three years ago.
It sits on a stretched version of the WRX platform and comes with the same suspension settings, wheelbase and mechanical layout: signature all-wheel drive with a boosted 2.0-litre boxer engine delivering 197kW at 5600rpm and 350Nm of torque between 2400-5200rpm.
That won’t be a handicap for Levorg – around 90 per cent of WRX buyers in NZ choose the car’s CVT unit over the six-speed manual.
Like the CVT in the WRX, Levorg has buttons on the steering wheel offering Sport or Sport Sharp modes. Running the car in its normal mode offers six pre-set ratios. So does Sport mode, although with a bit more urgency. But switching the CVT to Sport Sharp and using the shift paddles introduces eight ratios that tap into the engine’s performance.
Levorg is another admirable model from Subaru. Briefly, the car is comfortable and effortless around town. On the open road, the WRX characteristics appear – sharp turn-in from the well-weighted steering and sure-footed handling. Subaru claims town-and-around fuel use of 8.7 litres/100km.