No rough­ing it in the Out­back

Macclesfield Express - - MOTORING -

THERE was praise in­deed for this week’s test car as – for the first time I can re­mem­ber – the supreme be­ing (a.k.a Her In­doors) made un­prompted pos­i­tive noises upon spot­ting the 2015 Subaru Out­back on our drive­way.

Now that sur­prised me be­cause I had al­ways had the ground-break­ing cross­over (which be­gan a genre in 1995 many other man­u­fac­turer have since fol­lowed) as a bit of a mas­cu­line mo­tor.

How­ever, quite as­tutely, she had spot­ted that Subaru have gone more up­mar­ket with this latest, fifth-gen­er­a­tion model, which boasts a re­vamped in­te­rior for 2015 with higher-qual­ity ma­te­ri­als used through­out.

On the out­side Subaru’s de­sign­ers have made the new 4x4 more dy­namic, while keep­ing true to its rugged cross­over roots.

From the front the bumper, in­te­grated hexag­o­nal grille and hawk-eye head­lights main­tain the Subaru fam­ily look, while the pro­file is a sub­tle evo­lu­tion of the pre­vi­ous Out­back.

Our test model was the top-of-the-range 2.0 DIESEL SE Pre­mium CVT (£32,995) which proved more than equal to a busy week that in­cluded a pic­nic with friends at the Amer­i­can Clas­sic Car Show at Tat­ton Park, mov­ing fur­ni­ture for Num­ber One Son’s new flat plus a hec­tic work sched­ule.

The flat-four Boxer diesel en­gine has lots of power and was sur­pris­ingly quiet when on the move, if a lit­tle noisy on tick over. The 2.0-litre turbo pro­duces 148bhp and there is a non-turbo, 2.5-litre petrol unit with 165bhp.

Both have that un­usual, hor­i­zon­tally-op­posed flat-four cylin­der lay­out which sits deep be­neath the bon­net giv­ing a low cen­tre of grav­ity and im­proved han­dling, de­spite the car’s raised ground clear­ance for off-road work.

There are two trim lev­els – SE and SE Pre­mium – which both of­fer a gen­er­ous level of stan­dard equip­ment. SE mod­els have au­to­matic LED head­lamps and head­lamp wash­ers, cruise con­trol, Ac­tive Torque Vec­tor­ing, 17-inch al­loy wheels, heated front seats, elec­tri­cally-ad­justable driver’s seat and pri­vacy glass, as well as a seven-inch touch­screen in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem in­cor­po­rat­ing satel­lite nav­i­ga­tion, au­dio, smart­phone con­nec­tiv­ity and a rear-view park­ing cam­era.

Petrol SE mod­els also fea­ture emis­sion­sre­duc­ing start-stop and Subaru In­tel­li­gent Drive, which al­lows you to se­lect dif­fer­ent en­gine modes depend­ing on road con­di­tions for im­proved econ­omy and per­for­mance. SE Pre­mium mod­els add a power sun­roof, key­less en­try and push-but­ton start, 18-inch al­loy wheels, leather seats and a pow­ered rear tailgate.

New on the latest model is Eye­Sight, Subaru’s ad­vanced col­li­sion avoid­ance tech­nol­ogy which acts as a ‘sec­ond pair of eyes’ for driv­ers, mon­i­tor­ing the road and traf­fic ahead for po­ten­tial haz­ards. It is the first time the tech­nol­ogy has been made avail­able in Europe.

Two cam­eras in front of the rear view mir­ror de­tect ve­hi­cles, pedes­tri­ans, cy­clists and other haz­ards. Un­like ri­val sys­tems it can dif­fer­en­ti­ate be­tween these ob­jects and even iden­tify brake lights to pre­pare the car for an emer­gency stop. Subaru say it can ac­tively pre­vent an ac­ci­dent at speeds of up to 31mph.

Eye­Sight is fit­ted as stan­dard to ev­ery Out­back with Subaru’s Lin­eartronic (CVT) auto trans­mis­sion, and in­cludes au­ton­o­mous pre-col­li­sion brak­ing con­trol and pre-col­li­sion throt­tle man­age­ment, adap­tive cruise con­trol and lane de­par­ture plus sway warn­ing (for tow­ing).

Our diesel ver­sion has a re­spectable 0-62 time of 9.9 sec­onds and a top speed of 124mph. Subaru say it can re­turn over 46mpg over­all and I man­aged a shade over 40 dur­ing my time with the Out­back, which is good con­sid­er­ing this is a big car able to swal­low a 2,000-litre load. Our car also had that power tailgate, which proved par­tic­u­larly handy.

Mi­nor nig­gles – I was sur­prised there was no DAB ra­dio and the time clock is tiny on the oth­er­wise well laid-out dash­board... oh, and the sat nav/com­mand screen not very fat fin­ger friendly, but that is more down to ‘op­er­a­tor er­ror’.

Only on sale in the UK since April, we have yet to see the new Out­back in any num­bers on our roads, but with the range start­ing from £27,995 (the same as the out­go­ing model) I ex­pect this prac­ti­cal es­tate car with im­pres­sive 4x4 off-road abil­ity will prove very pop­u­lar.

And I was gen­uinely sorry to see our test car go… un­til I saw what those nice peo­ple at Subaru had brought in its place – see next week’s Mo­tors for the full story.

More in­for­ma­tion about the new Subaru Out­back is at www.subaru.

●» The new Subaru Out­back has a more dy­namic look

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