JAPANESE car maker Subaru was rather late introducing a diesel engine to their vehicle range but when it arrived their distinctive Boxer diesel gave the company a big sales boost and now they have introduced the power unit to the re-styled Outback which pioneered the Crossover concept when first launched in 1996 writes Bryan Longworth.
Hitherto the Outback which is closely related to the Legacy was only available with a petrol engine and now the new-look model can only be purchased with the Boxer diesel in which the four cylinders operate horizontally instead of vertically like most engines which is why it is so named.
The visually refreshed Outback which has the Subaru 4x4 system has also created a world record for it is the first time a Boxer diesel engine has been paired with an automatic transmission which Subaru call Lineartronic CVT.
On the outside the visual refresh includes body coloured cladding which makes the car look more rugged and the upgraded cabin now has better and clearer instrumentation making them more user friendly and there are also improvements to the ride and handling.
The 148bhp diesel engine has a top speed of 121mph a zero to 62mph time of 9.7 seconds with a combined fuel consumption of 44.6mpg and CO2 emissions of 166g/km.
I was immediately impressed as I started driving the Outback 2.0D SX Lineartronic test car priced at £31,495 for it had a nice precise feel about the steering and handling and the new interior especially the instruments improves the overall ambience of the cabin.
The CVT transmission is the best I have encountered providing a very smooth drive especially under acceleration unlike some other makes with their own versions of CVT which can be a bit jerky.
New Outback is really loaded with standard equipment that includes a sliding glass sunroof, electrically operated driving seat with both front seats heated, traction control, hill hold assist, rear vision camera and an electronic parking brake although some drivers still prefer an old fashioned handbrake.
However, as there is only one trim level available on a car costing over £31,000 I am sure some owners would expect satellite navigation to have been standard and not an optional extra as one admirer commented to me.
The new Outback with its good ground clearance is an ideal car especially for owners in rural areas because while it not a serious mud plugging off roader it has the 4x4 traction capability for winter weather conditions or for when encountering slippery off road conditions when towing trailers or caravans - towing capacity is 1,700kg for a braked trailer.
The rear suspension has a self levelling feature and the load area above has a 526 litre capacity with the rear seats upright and this increases to a massive 1,677 litres with the rear seats folded but there is no spare wheel.
New Outback is a much more tempting vehicle now that it has the diesel engine and it links so well with the automatic transmission it is well worth the extra £1,500 or so to be able to sit back and enjoy a very relaxing drive.
My Verdict: Refreshed Outback is the one to go for.
Model: Subaru Outback 2.0D SX Lineartronic.
Engine: Output 148bhp.
Transmission: CVT automatic.
Top speed: 121mph.
Acceleration: 0 to 62mph 9.7 seconds.
Fuel consumption: 44.8mpg combined.
CO2 emissions: 166g/km.
Price: £31,495 on the road.