OUTBACK TO ITS BEST
Subaru’s Outback never went away, but it’s sometimes forgotten in the SUV race. But how has it kept pace with a big capacity flat-cylinder!?
Subaru’s 3.6-litre Outback is a smooth and silky drive, and always has been.
THREE-POINT-SIX-LITRES OF PETROL-powered horizontally opposed six-cylinder engine has been an iconic part of the Subaru Outback for almost two decades. It’s an engine layout used in Porsche’s venerable 911 for good reason, with power, torque and a warbling sound that’s full of character.
As one of the original crossover/suvs, Subaru’s best-selling Outback has seen its engine capacity grow from 3.0-litres to the current 3.6-litres, and it’s always been the better, stronger and driver’s choice for the big wagon, as well as the Legacy - the big-six often being a better choice than twin-turbo four-cylinders. And in an increasingly efficient motoring landscape where engines are downsizing, it’s a mild relief to realise the longevity and lifespan of the 3.6-litre petrol engine. It’s not without its own refinement, either, with Subaru claiming 9.9l/100km for the combined fuel cycle, a good improvement over previous iterations and theoretically good for around 550km from its 60-litre tank. We saw 10.5/100km.
It’s an engine that produces a strong but relatively unstressed 191kw and 350Nm, at least when compared to a 2002 911’s 3.6-litre engine that made 235kw/370nm and used 12.1l/100km.
Hardly slow either, and while Subaru spruiks a 0-100km/h time of 7.6 seconds, it did not take much to demolish that claim and record 7.0 seconds by simply loading up brake against throttle and releasing. Subaru’s iconic all-wheel drive system and active torque split eliminates tyre slip, and though the continuously variable transmission ‘Subaru Lineartronic Transmission’ is fine for producing those numbers at the drags, during normal use, it’s sometimes caught out of its happy zone.
Subaru does compensate for this somewhat with its manual paddle-shift override, and Si-drive mode, which alters the aggressiveness of responses in three modes.
But the Outback is largely about the comfort and space, and it serves up in both
While Subaru spruiks a 0-100km/h time of 7.6 seconds, it didn’t take much to demolish that claim and record a time of 7.0 seconds.
areas, especially in the Premium models, available in this six, and also the fourcylinder 2.5i. Ride quality is superb and it’s a supremely comfortable, well-equipped and spacious cabin.
Large eight-inch touchscreens feature Carplay/android Auto, plus Front and Side View Monitors which helps nosing it into the garage each night, aided by the button that allows manual activation. Another button sets the power tailgate’s maximum height, for lower garages. Subaru also fits a Tomtom based navigation system with live traffic updates.
Black or ivory leather with heated eightway electric seats add to the premium feel, as does keyless go and an epic 12-speaker Harman Kardon audio system. There’s also Subaru’s third gen Eyesight system which adds lane change assist, along with an improved system of collision avoidance and adaptive cruise control and speed sign recognition.
Exterior for-2018 changes are minimal but include new LED/DRL adaptive cornering headlights, new grille, bumpers and wheels, with the 3.6R also getting silver fold-out roof racks. And identifying not just the 2018 model, but the 3.6R model becomes almost its own problem. There isn’t enough visual difference between the new 3.6R and the 2.5i and as good as it is, the 2.5i offers up quite an appealing and $10,000 cheaper option. It may only get 129kw/235nm, but it’s 7.3l/100km does sound more appealing, though there is a sizeable performance gap, with 0-100km/h served up in 10.2 seconds. And if budget is an issue, there’s always the 2.5i Sport at $44,990, with all three Outback variants offering good value for money.
Of course for the effortless power delivery and smoothness, it’s hard to ignore Subaru’s sweet six-cylinder. Enjoy it, because with the way engines capacities and cylinders are reducing, it may not be around forever.
1. Premium interior offers lots of space, comfort and tech.2. Eight-inch touchscreen uses Tomtom guidance for navigation, and the option of Apple Carplay/android Auto, plus dual-zone climate and heated seats.3-4-5. Plenty of tech onboard the 3.6 Premium, such as adaptive cruise control, and Si-drive, with the ability to choose between three driving modes. Blind spot warning, adjustable power tailgate height, lane assist and autonomous braking add to the menu, along with Hill Hold, off-road X-mode, manual camera activation and electric park brake.6. A hallmark of Outback, boot space is cavernous, with sliding cover, seat-folding handles, and optional cargo dish tray.
Premium 3.6 is identified by its wheels, and silver roof racks, which fold-out across the roof.