After an unplanned leak by a Japanese magazine, the 2018 Subaru XV has finally been revealed at the on-going Geneva motor show. There’s nothing really surprising here, of course, as it’s essentially a jacked-up Impreza that we’re already familiar with. Still, it’s our first real look at the next-generation XV, an update to model that has been reasonably successful here in Malaysia.

Looks wise, the new version has all the XV’s trademark SUV-inspired add-ons, namely matte black plastic cladding over the base Impreza. The second-generation model brings on more shapely headlights, a bolder grille and a set of bigger, chunkier, dual-tone wheels (now 18-inch items).

It’s now based on the new Subaru Global Platform, which promises enhanced safety, ride comfort and agility compared to the original 2012 model. The new platform is 70-100% more rigid than before, and the new XV manages to have a lower centre of gravity despite maintaining the same ground clearance of 220 mm. Rear stabilisers that are now directly mounted to the body also reduce body roll by 50%.

Inside, the entire dashboard is new, fully adapted from the latest Impreza. As before, the XV’s “active” character is emphasised by the use of bright orange contrast stitching and varying shades of grey throughout the cabin. Subaru claims that refinement has been significantly improved too, while an electronic parking brake takes over from the old XV’s handbrake unit.

The steering wheel size has been reduced to for a more snappy feel, to go along with the quicker steering ratio (from 14:1 to 13:1). Active Torque Vectoring further enhances the XV’s driving dynamics, together with Subaru’s trademark Symmetrical AWD system. The latter is now equipped with X-Mode for better control in loose surfaces, bringing it in line with the larger Forester.

Under the hood is a revamped engine and gearbox combo. The engine remains a 2.0 litre naturally-aspirated flat-four unit, but Subaru says around 80% of its parts have been updated. The new direct injection motor makes 156 PS and 196 Nm of torque, and it’s said to be up to 12 kg lighter than before.

It’s a similar story with the Lineartronic CVT gearbox. While it sounds like a carry-over unit, it now has an expanded ratio coverage (from 6.28 to 7.03) for better acceleration and fuel economy, and it’s also lighter by 7.8 kg. The new transmission employs an auto-step shift control, plus a seven-speed manual mode.

On the safety front, the new XV boasts standard active and preventive safety technologies (in Europe, at least), including the Subaru EyeSight suite (Pre-Collision Braking Control, Adaptive Cruise Control, and Lane Keep Assist function). High Beam Assist, Steering Responsive Headlights and Subaru Rear Vehicle Detection are also offered.

Beyond that, Subaru claims that with its lower centre of gravity and improved suspension system, the vehicle now offers outstanding hazard avoidance capabilities “on a level with a high-performance sports car.” Increased use of high-tensile steel plates, including materials formed by hot press forming also improved the XV’s impact energy absorption by as much as 40% over the outgoing model.

Market-specific details will be announced soon, with Japan and the US (where it will continue to be called the Crosstrek) first in line. It’s expected to arrive in Malaysia before the end of the year. So, what do you think of this new Subaru XV, folks?