TWENTY years after being launched as the world’s first crossover the fifth generation of the Subaru Outback has gone on sale and now with the Japanese company firmly established in the UK as a very credible 4x4 manufacturer the impressive new Outback is set to continue as the firm’s flagship model writes Bryan Longworth.
Following the appearance of the first Outback in 1995 the model has become a prestigeous vehicle for Subaru as the company has become a highly respected producer of four wheel drive vehicles that are much appreciated particularly by owners in rural, farming and horsey communities who need a reliable 4x4.
However, since the launch of the original Outback this market sector has become very crowded with some formidable rivals and life is much tougher for this latest Subaru but the company has done a good job in making sure their latest flagship car is very competitive.
The new rugged styling especially at the front really suits the Outback - one admirer said he liked it so much he might even buy one - and the upgraded cabin has improved the interior along with the more comfortable ride and improved handling plus generous standard kit that includes the aptly named “Eye Sight” safety assist technology.
“Eye Sight” comprises two colour cameras next to the rear view mirror which monitor the road and traffic ahead for potential hazards such as vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists and warns the driver if there is a problem automatically applying the brakes to avoid an accident.
On test was the most expensive model the Outback 2.0D SE Premium Lineartronic costing £32,995 which was powered by a 2.0-litre “Boxer” diesel engine with automatic transmission that produced a top speed of 124mph and a zero to 62mph time of 9.9 seconds with a combined fuel consumption of 46.3mpg and CO2 emissions of 145g/km.
Manual gear changing was also possible through steering wheel paddles but I used the automatic system most of the time because it worked so well and I found the diesel engine was so poky that quite sporty motoring was possible for such a vehicle.
I have always been an admirer of Subaru’s formidable four wheel drive off road capabilities since the brand first came to the UK nearly 40 years ago and some steep muddy tracks and slippery grass slopes which can be quite treacherous were no problem for the test car and it was more effective than some premium rivals with 4x4 systems.
The spacious and comfortable cabin with its leather seating had a premium feel about it with the touchscreen and manual controls offering a good mix of controlling the various functions and the automatic LED headlights provided excellent illumination that was extremely effective especially on bendy Pennine roads.
The power operated tailgate was much appreciated and it provided access to the large load area which had considerable space underneath that was useful for storing more private and expensive baggage - it also housed a puncture repair kit as there was no spare wheel.
There is no doubt that the new Outback is a considerable overall improvement on the previous model and the changes to styling and the interior have given it more appeal to a wider market.
This could well result in a sales boost because while the competition from similar rival 4x4 cars from manufacturers such as Volvo, Audi and VW is formidable the latest Outback offers a reputation for being an excellent all weather car with impressive towing abilities and more street appeal.
Verdict: An impressive new flagship.
Model: New Subaru Outback 2.0D SE Premium Lineartronic.
Engine: Four cylinder Boxer diesel.
Output: 150 ps.
Top Speed: 124mph.
Acceleration: 0 to 62mph 9.9 seconds.
Fuel consumption: 46.3mpg combined.
CO2 emissions: 145g/km.