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Outback is a shapely Subaru that’s stronger, too
10:31am Thursday 21st June 2012 in Road Tests
REFINED and beautifully built, Subaru’s latest Outback is well and truly up there with the best of the bunch.
Fitted with a free-revving 2.0-litre boxer diesel motor, it is a fine all-rounder and a rural favourite, offering comfort and practicality in abundance.
Its flat-four unit gives excellent economy of around 45mpg during everyday driving.
While the Outback looks distinctive, particularly with its prominent bonnet scoop, some motorists have in the past overlooked it in favour of more shapely but less talented estates. This is a pity as the Outback oozes sophistication.
Nowadays it comes in a shapelier guise. It is taller and longer and sits on a new platform with a wheelbase which makes for improved cabin space and better ride quality.
The design also adds more strength to the car and brings crash benefits.
It’s not a cheap vehicle but it is generously equipped and very competitively priced against rivals.
In diesel form it costs from £26,870 to £30,370.
The Outback gives a relaxing drive and with its wellspaced six-speed manual gearbox it is a smooth and quiet operator.
The layout of the 148bhp motor ensures a lower centre of gravity and while revving easily it produces plenty of torque or pulling power for quick and safe overtaking.
Road holding is first-rate with the advanced symmetrical all-wheel-drive ensuring good grip and traction in all weathers to make it an excellent vehicle for those who live deep in the country.
However, the Outback does not have the mudplugging ability of the bigger 4x4s but offers a healthy 258lb ft of torque, sufficient to tow your horse trailer with ease and prevent you getting stuck off the tarmac.
On and off the road, the estate’s control is very good. Push the Outback on an open and winding road and it is easy to see that this is a vehicle from the same school as the legendary Impreza.
It soaks up road imperfections so well that rough roads pose no problems and the estate remains surprisingly well composed.
The driving dynamics are matched by the high quality of the interior which has undoubtedly gone upmarket compared to older Subaru vehicles.
The cabin is spacious and airy with an attractive new dash layout and a large display screen at the top where a DVD satellite navigation system is fitted to leading-specification cars.
Soft leather upholstery adds to the ambience of the interior.
It is easy to find a comfortable driving position with steering column and electric seat adjustments.
There is plenty of cabin and rear space with seating for five and a large wellconsidered load area which can be increased greatly by folding the rear seats.
You’ll find the keyless entry and push-button stop and start system very convenient.
There is also a rear-view camera to help the driver reversing and parking.
Other kit includes cruise control, alloy wheels, climate control, stability and traction control and air bags galore.
There is an electric parking brake which works well but may not find favour will some motorists.