BADGE AP­PEAL

Belfast Telegraph - NI Carfinder - - News -

What’s in a name? In the world of cars, the name is worth a lot. Con­sider Volk­swa­gen Group - the A4 Audi com­mands a higher pre­mium than the Golf, which in turn fetches more than the Skoda Oc­tavia and Seat Leon. Es­sen­tially the same plat­form, with cos­metic tweaks to the ex­te­rior and in­te­ri­ors. At grandly dif­fer­ent price points. It’s not just the Ger­mans, many mod­els from the French, Ital­ians and else­where are badge ma­nip­u­lated. It re­duces costs – on re­search and devel­op­ment, plus the economies of up­scal­ing pro­duc­tion. Whether the end buyer ac­tu­ally re­ceives ben­e­fits in re­duced show­room prices is an­other mat­ter.

A real down­side is that af­ford­able mod­ern cars with char­ac­ter are few and far be­tween. There is “much of a much­ness” amongst many of today’s show­room of­fer­ings. A Brand that stands apart from the bland, how­ever, is Subaru. Man­u­fac­tured in Ja­pan they have stuck to their prin­ci­ples and build ve­hi­cles that ooze char­ac­ter thanks to their core DNA – lowslung hor­i­zon­tally op­posed Boxer en­gines driv­ing sym­met­ri­cal All Wheel Drive. It’s quite a mouth­ful, but when you press the start but­ton and move off you know im­me­di­ately you’re driv­ing some­thing spe­cial.

The ex­cep­tion­ally low cen­tre of grav­ity and per­fect bal­ance and grip of Subaru’s sym­met­ri­cal all wheel drive is breath­tak­ing in corners and on greasy, treach­er­ous round­abouts. All wheel drive is not just for win­ter – hit stand­ing pud­dles of water in lesser cars at speed and very quickly con­trol is ceded to the forces of physics. A Subaru sim­ply shrugs, and gets on with it. Subarus ex­cel of­froad. They are the car of choice for North­ern Ire­land’s vets and farm­ers and will go places Land Rover driv­ers would stop and think about. The XV cross­over, Forester, Levorg and Out­back ranges are supremely ca­pa­ble and com­fort­able on the M2 com­mute, and an of­froad de­light.

The Eye­sight safety sys­tem fit­ted on Lin­eartronic Out­back es­tates is a rev­o­lu­tion­ary stereo­scopic cam­era sys­tem that lit­er­ally “sees” the road ahead and acts as a sec­ond pair of eyes to aid the driver, able to brake in­de­pen­dently and min­imise col­li­sions. In­sur­ance pre­mi­ums on Eye­sight equipped Out­back have tum­bled and the Amer­i­can In­sur­ance As­so­ci­a­tion have de­clared it “best in class” driver as­sist safety sys­tem.

Lin­eartronic gear­boxes are, like ev­ery­thing Subaru do, de­vel­oped by them for their own ve­hi­cles. The step­less steel belt driven Lin­eartron­ics re­turns close to what the six speed man­u­als de­liver, across the range of Subaru diesel and petrol en­gines. Pleas­antly free of surges or rac­ing en­gine revs, it qui­etly gets on mak­ing jour­neys en­joy­able and af­ford­able. The joy of own­ing a Subaru is ev­i­dent from the ex­tra­or­di­nary length of own­er­ship – most Subarus re­main with their buy­ers for ten years up­wards. With a five year war­ranty stan­dard (ex­cept the racy WRX Sti) it’s not hard to see why resid­ual val­ues hold up so well.

With OTR prices in North­ern Ire­land start­ing from just £17,495 we’d cer­tainly rec­om­mend check­ing out the mo­tor­ing de­lights of driv­ing Subaru. Deal­ers in Lis­burn, En­niskillen and Dun­gan­non, see more at www.subaru-Ni.com.

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