My requirements were a sporty, reliable and family friendly 4x4 that did not force me in to the one-upmanship game associated with certain marques.
The XV won the SUV of the Year segment in 4x4 magazine's 2013 awards, and this was what drew it to my attention. In contrast the mainstream press's reviews were somewhat more mixed, but after a couple of test drives the XV 2.0D SE won me over with its styling, lusty drivetrain and solid character.
I opted for the diesel model just after the 2013 Summer price-drop kicked in, making an expensive proposition much more feasible. Wanted the fuel economy and torque that the diesel would give me, and have not been let down on either front. On A roads it is such a fun drive - responsive, glued to the road, gear-ratios that make you enjoy briskly working the notchy gearbox - yet on motorways it cruises effortlessly along and chews up the miles. Getting 45 MPG for mixed driving; 50 MPG for long motorway journeys at 2000 RPM or thereabouts.
The ride is definitely sports-car firm, bordering on the twitchy, although this is only notable at slower speeds (and then only to my passengers). Have driven a few muddy, potholed country tracks and it is a lusty, enthusiastic performer up hill and down-dale, engendering huge confidence in its AWD system, robust suspension and ground clearance. Corners very well with no body roll of note; the steering is precise, although feedback is a little late.
Inside, and even without a spare wheel - the boot is on the small side - enough for a family weekend away, but you'd need a roofbox if you were driving 4 adults for a week's skiing somewhere. Plenty of passenger space, though. Reports of the cabin being spartan are off the mark - it is comfortable, functional and hard-wearing, and I don't consider it a let down at all. The add-ons: Bluetooth, stereo, rear-view camera etc are all fine and do what they are supposed to with a minimum of fuss.
It's early days, but the more I drive this car, the more I enjoy it, and the more I look forward to driving it. The SUV market is certainly crowded, but if you are looking for a distinctive, capable vehicle with bags of personality - then check out the XV.