If Subaru had the marketing spend of some of its rivals, it would be able to make a bigger song and dance about its excellent EyeSight technology. Itís standard on Outback Lineartronic models and uses two cameras mounted at the top of the windscreen to monitor the road ahead. The four main functions are: adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, pre-collision steering and throttle management, plus pre-collision braking. Itís the little things that stand out, like the way it refuses to move if you accidentally engage forward instead of reverse and thereís a car or other obstacle in front of you. Or the way it alerts you if the car ahead has moved away when waiting in traffic and you havenít reacted in time.
One thing you find when driving a number of different cars is that not all adaptive cruise controls are created equal. Subaruís EyeSight is one of the better systems, proving to be almost faultless at reading the road ahead. It slows down smoothly if a car looms into view, accelerating with the same smoothness when moving to overtake or if the car in front turns off. Crucially, itíll also slow down all the way to a stop, which is handy when travelling on Britainís congested motorways!
As for the lane departure warning system, letís just say the jury is out. On a motorway or dual carriageway ñ its natural habit ñ itís perfectly fine, alerting you if you drift out of lane without using the indicators. Itís only once you leave the main roads that it becomes an irritant. Drive along typical Devon backroads or through a town and the incessant beep-beep-beep-beep-beep-beep can become annoying. Move across to avoid a pothole, parked car or cyclist and itíll warn you that youíre going astray. Using the indicators will override the system, but you donít want to be doing that on empty roads, or every time you manoeuvre around a parked car or obstacle. There is an override button ñ which resets itself when you switch the engine off ñ but then youíre left with a distracting orange warning light in the centre of the dials. My solution is to leave it on and simply turn the radio up. Yes, even Steve Wright is preferable to the beep-beep-beep-beep-beep-beep.
This month, we had a chance to test the flexibility of the Outback. A pair of bedside cabinets shouldnít provide too much of a challenge to a self-respecting estate car, but with four people and a dog in tow, the 60:40 split folding rear seat was called into action. Being able to pull a lever to fold each seat from the tailgate is a neat touch and Iím pleased to say that the Outback handled the Tetris-like packing puzzle without breaking sweat. Plenty of room for the children and ample space for the dog. Sorted.
Date arrived 20th October 2016
Fuel economy 46.3mpg (combined) 35.3mpg (on test)
Being able to fold the rear seats via a lever in the tailgate is a very neat touch.
The lane departure warning system is an irritant when driving in towns or rural roads.