No roughing it in the Outback
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