Sunday, 22 May 2022

Rugged performer lets you go your own way

I HAVE been to the “Outback” several times in recent years, so to speak, and

I HAVE been to the “Outback” several times in recent years, so to speak, and have always fared well while driving this truly rugged performer.

The irony is the latest Subaru Outback 2.0D SE Premium Manual I have been driving this week looks rather serene and suave — the kind of car ideal for the weekly supermarket shop.

But make no mistake, when its 2.0-litre boxer diesel engine fires up, Subaru’s unique AWD (all-wheel drive) powers this family estate with aplomb.

If there is another thing that always strikes me about the Subaru Outback it is that I think its Japanese makers could well give it yet another makeover to launch it into tip-top 21st century mode.

I suppose when it comes down to it, it’s all about how much money carmakers want to spend on research and development.

Some shell out a bomb and cannot do enough to keep ahead of the game.

Whether this is ultimately beneficial is another question.

After all, there are only so many gizmos and gadgets one welcomes when climbing into a new car’s cabin these days.

I like a touch of tradition and I always find, in a good way, that once inside the Subaru Outback I feel immediately at home.

Give the accelerator a tweak and that boxer-diesel engine kicks in and, even with just two litres at its disposal, gives you your money’s worth.

The Outback, now in its fifth generation, was launched in the UK in 1995. It is acknowledged as being the world’s first crossover.

Thus it successfully combines the attraction of owning a passenger estate car with the all-road capabilities of an SUV (sports utility vehicle).

This new version appeared in 2015 — the Outback being Subaru’s flagship model in the UK for the previous two decades.

In 2015 it came with an all-new look, a higher quality interior and new safety technology.

There are two engines available in the UK — a pair of horizontally-opposed (hence the name) four-cylinder boxer engines, fitted deep in the engine bay to ensure a low centre of gravity for improved handling, despite the car’s raised ground clearance.

Buyers can choose between a 2.0-litre turbo-diesel, or a 2.5-litre petrol unit.

Diesel engines are paired with either a six-speed manual transmission or Subaru’s Lineartronic (CVT) transmission; the 2.5-litre petrol engine is sold exclusively with Lineartronic.

Reading the car’s specifications, I noticed that when the fifth generation appeared it did so with better steering. This is very noticeable.

Indeed, the steering ratio had been “quickened” in the new model, resulting in a “more accurate and linear steering response” according to Subaru. So handling is smooth and rather silky, which is a good word to describe this car’s “slow-burn” attraction.

There are two trim levels available on the Outback — SE and SE Premium — both of which offer good standard equipment.

The SE models’ standard equipment includes automatic LED headlamps and headlamp washers, cruise control, 17-inch alloy wheels, heated front seats, electrically-adjustable driver’s seat and privacy glass, as well as a 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system, incorporating satellite navigation, audio, smartphone connectivity and a rear view parking camera.

Petrol SE models also feature an emissions-reducing start-stop system and Subaru Intelligent Drive, which allows drivers to select different engine modes according to road conditions for improved economy and performance.

SE Premium models like the test car add a sunroof, keyless entry and push-button start, 18-inch alloy wheels, leather seats and a powered rear tailgate for added functionality.

At the end of the day I may climb out of the Subaru Outback and find myself looking forward to a sixth generation.

But I am never disappointed with the current drive (and have always liked the Subaru’s starry brand logo).

I really like this car’s individuality and find myself admiring Subaru for continuing to go its own sweet way in the world.

Test model: Subaru  Outback 2.0D SE Premium Manual

• Prices from around £28,000

• All-new exterior design and significantly upgraded cabin for Subaru’s flagship

• ‘A second pair of eyes’ — introduction of new EyeSight safety assist technology

• 2.0-litre diesel and 2.5-litre boxer engines with greater fuel  economy

• Manual and Lineartronic CVT transmissions cater for all tastes

• All-Wheel Drive with Active Torque Vectoring and X-Mode all-terrain system

• More comfortable ride and improved handling

• Good standard  equipment with two trim levels

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