A Subaru trip to the Never Never

Road Trip - - CONTENTS - Story by Paul van Gass and Jim Free­man | Im­ages © Jim Free­man

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

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