We have returned from the Thailand International Motor Expo 2011, where Motor Image (MI), the Subaru distributor for our region and beyond, unveiled the Subaru XV at its stand.

This XV in question is made in Japan and will go to MI marktes such as Singapore, Taiwan and Hong Kong. Malaysia? We have a locally assembled XV to look forward to, scheduled for an October 2012 release.

If you remember, back in July this website broke the news of Subaru’s CKD plans for ASEAN, with Malaysia as the hub. We followed up by revealing the XV as the model to be locally assembled at Tan Chong Motor Assemblies in Segambut, KL. Extra details came in our exclusive interview with Motor Image boss Glenn Tan, where he revealed more about the ASEAN bound XV as well as MI’s big plans for Malaysia. Click here to read the interview.

The XV is powered by a 2.0-litre four-cylinder horizontally-opposed Boxer engine, which is Subaru’s trademark layout. This engine, tuned for good low to mid end torque, is a new unit featuring Dual Active Valve Control System (DAVCS), 150 PS and 196 Nm.

Another USP of the brand is Symmetrical AWD, and the XV feeds drive permanently to all four wheels. The sole transmission choice is a Lineartronic CVT with manual selection. Brakes are discs all round, with the fronts ventilated. The XV’s suspension consists of front MacPherson struts and rear double wishbones.

While the XV’s shape looks similar to the Impreza hatchback’s at a glance, its front and rear styling is unique. It measures 4,450 mm long and had a 2,635 mm wheelbase, figures that are 35 mm and 15 mm longer than the Impreza hatch, respectively. The concept of the XV is not new, but this time, Subaru has dropped the “Impreza” name from the model, like how the Outback doesn’t wear the Legacy name.

We were given a preview of the XV at Motor Image Thailand’s modern Khlongkum hub, modeled after the all-in-one Toa Payoh Subaru hub in Singapore.

The drive wasn’t much to write home about, consisting of only a straight and a slalom run in the centre’s compound, but it did reveal good response and pick up, while exhibiting less body roll and weight shift than I imagined, considering the raised stance. The driver’s seat feels right for me – it goes low enough and the steering adjusts for rake, too.

The XV should prove to be a pleasant drive, but one will first need to remove any image, idea and expectation of a loud turbo Subaru. Yes, those blue monsters wearing gold shoes that roam our streets :)

The pics I took are a good preview of our CKD model, but some details are to be ignored. The point of local assembly is to lower the price, so it makes sense to stay away from the unnecessary luxuries. The sunroof you see here won’t be present, as with the full colour display above the centre stack and HIDs.

The factory stereo is likely to be replaced by a 2-DIN touch screen unit (with possible options for reverse camera/GPS) linked to the original steering audio switches. The shift paddles for the CVT will be present.

Fancy display won’t be in CKD car, but a touch screen 2-DIN HU with GPS/reverse cam might

Exterior wise, this is pretty much it, including the 225/55 R17 wheel size and the distinctive design of the alloys. The XV’s identity hinges on the tough off-roader looks, so the black body cladding and roof rails are highlights of this C-segment crossover. Tangerine Orange Pearl, as seen here, is the car’s signature colour, but less flashy hues will of course be available. I’m sure there will be requests for WR Blue!

Price wise, MI isn’t committing a figure yet, but promised that the XV will be priced competitively with C-segment SUV rivals. A lot depends on the exchange rate, and the Ringgit isn’t exactly faring very well against the Yen, unfortunately.