SEARCHING FOR THE “OUTBACK”
A Subaru trip to the Never Never
Take it somewhere that resembles the Australian Outback. That was the brief when we recently received the updated Subaru Outback. No problem, Paul van Gass and Jim Freeman thought, as they knew a road through parched farmland close to Riebeek Kasteel akin to the area the Aussies call the Never Never. But then, it started to rain.
Four months ago, we travelled the Riebeeksrivier Road; it branches off to the left just before the Bothmaskloof Pass entrance into Riebeek Kasteel – and encountered long stretches of road carving through parched farmland that resembles the desolate, deserted area in Australia called the Outback. There was no better place to take the updated Outback from Subaru, released locally earlier this year.
First introduced in 1994, the station wagon-like Outback was one of the first cars equipped with all-wheel drive, deeming it the original crossover. Now in its fifth incarnation, the most significant Outback design updates is a revised bumper design with sharper edges and less accentuated fog lamp surrounds, while more front cladding enhances offroad protection.
Its signature hexagonal grille with three blades now only has the first blade finished in chrome (the two below are now matte black), giving the Outback a more rugged look, but more importantly it now also incorporates a camera lens for the new Front View Monitor that forms part of the
award-winning Eyesight driver assist and safety system of Subaru. Other revisions include small changes to the C-shaped headlights and new mirror housings with integrated LED turn signals and new side camera, as well as new two-tone designs for the 18-inch wheels.
The interior has also received a significant makeover with new panel inserts in piano black and silver surround contrasts, a new centre stack, front air vents, and new climate control panel with soft-touch materials, new controls, and new graphics. Refreshed it may be, but the dash still looks quite old-school and staid compared to its class contenders.
The leather steering wheel, now with multi-function buttons, has also been revised, but the most noticeable difference is the new seven-inch infotainment system with touch-sensitive panel. While faster and more intuitive with smartphone connectivity and voice-control, the new navigation system went completely haywire during our trip … taking us to some imaginary Never Never.
According to the system we were sharkwatching in False Bay, Southeast of Seal