It can be easy to forget the first letter in SUV stands for sports when tall city crossovers are hampered by their high center of gravity, making them less agile and exciting than regular hatchbacks. Seemingly unconcerned by the basic principles of physics, Subaru's STI division has created the XV Hybrid tS, in attempt to turn an uninspiring, slow crossover into a slightly more inspiring, slow crossover.
If anyone is capable of turning a garden-variety XV into a slightly taller hot-hatch, it's Subaru Technica International. The WRX and WRX STI might not have evolved at quite the same pace as some of their new rivals, but nothing short of an actual rally car will slingshot you down a wet back road like a blue Subaru with gold wheels.
Unfortunately, the XV hasn't benefitted from the same level of attention as the legendary WRX. The Hybrid tS is fitted with new front suspension struts, revised rear dampers and fresh coil springs at all four corners. There's also a flexible tower bar up front, and the whole package sits on 17-inch aluminum wheels for a handy reduction in unsprung weight.
So far, so good, then. Combine that stiffer chassis with a punchy turbocharged engine and manual gearbox, and Subaru might be onto something.
Unfortunately, there's no punchy new engine or manual gearbox. Power comes from the same 110-kW (146-hp), 196-Nm (145-lb-ft) four-cylinder boxer you get in the standard car, albeit with an electric boost. Unfortunately, there's no information about how much extra power is provided by the hybrid system, although we're not expecting the combined output to set the world on fire. Compounding the tiny power output is a CVT transmission.
The relative lack of power hasn't stopped the designers from going crazy with the crayons. Outside, there's a unique white and orange combination, and the interior is also finished in the same lairy color scheme.
At the moment, the XV Hybrid tS is up for preorder in Japan. You'll pay JP¥3,326,400 (US$ 32,400) for the privilege of owning one, and there's no word on when and where it will see a release outside Japan.