COMPETENT CROSSOVER Launched at the same time as the Legacy Tourer is the all-new Outback – Subaru’s take on a 4×4 crossover model, designed to meet the needs of those seeking something that little bit tougher, with an off-road appetite, serious towing ability and more frugal engines than your average 4×4. And all of that is wrapped up in a package that is more car-like than the majority of burly SUVs on the road.
Subaru is boldly pitching its new Outback against established rivals like the Audi A4 Allroad, Skoda Octavia Scout and Volvo XC70. But at £28,295, it isn’t cheap. Instead of a rock bottom price tag, the Japanese firm is relying on a combination of a decent engine, acres of space, good equipment levels and its famed all-wheel-drive technology to lure buyers away from the opposition. Built on an all-new platform, the new Outback is larger than its predecessor, s0 there’s plenty of space, while the cabin is a comfortable and airy place to be. As demonstrated with the Legacy, Subaru has paid close attention to criticism it received in the past for its use of cheap looking cabin materials, meaning the Outback has a more upmarket, quality feel. Standard equipment includes 17-inch alloy wheels, xenon headlamps, electric sunroof, electric and heated leather seats, dualzone climate control and Bluetooth hands-free connectivity. In top spec SE NavPlus trim, there’s also the addition of a DVD satellite navigation system, smart entry with a stop/start button and a reversing camera.
Despite Subaru’s Boxer 2.0-litre 150bhp diesel being a relatively smooth runner, out on the road when pushed hard, the Outback lacks poke and requires some enthusiastic gear work to keep the pace up – but that’s hampered by the notchy six-speed gearbox. There’s loads of traction, just as you’d expect from Subaru’s all-wheel drive pedigree and body roll is minimal when you’re tackling bends. It’s not the most engaging of estates to drive, but far from the worst. We weren’t able to put the Outback’s four-wheel drive technology through a serious off-road test, but its strong capability and plentiful grip bode well for tackling the rough stuff. With its list price of over £28,000, for the top spec diesel Outback tested here, there’s no denying that it’s a pricey thing. Subaru reckons it’s taking steps to restrict supply and keep residuals high for the Outback, by restricting supply to fewer than 2,500 examples in the UK, so it’s likely to be a relatively rare sight on UK roads.
RIVALS: AUDI A4 ALLROAD 2.0 TDI, SKODA OCTAVIA SCOUT 2.0 TDI PD, SUBARU LEGACY TOURER 2.0D SE NAVPLUS
- Engine: 1998cc, 4-cylinder, turbodiesel
- Gearbox: 6-speed manual
- Max power: 148bhp at 3,600rpm
- Max torque: 258lb ft at 1,800 to 2,400rpm
- Max towing weight: 1,700kg
- Max speed: 120mph
- 0-62mph: 9.7secs
- Combined consumption: 44.1mpg
- CO2 emissions (taxband): 167g/km (H)
- Boot space: 526/1677litres
- Insurance group: 12