SUBARU’S Outback model is a robust crossover estate which offers the refinement of a road car with the extra assurance and grip of an all-wheel drive.
Revised and enhanced last year, the Outback has a more purposeful frontal design, and significant equipment and technology upgrades.
There are two models in the line-up, both using a proven 2.5 litre petrol engine, which is installed lower down and further back than a conventional engine. This results in a lower centre of gravity and moves beneath the passenger compartment in the event of a collision, providing added safety for occupants. Prices start at €33,771 (£29,995) for the well-kitted SE, with the higher-spec SE Premium Lineartronic from €37,166 (£33,010).
It was the latter model I tested, with its 173 hp engine mated to CVT automatic transmission with paddle-shifters if you want to make the gear changes yourself. With top speed of 198 kph (123 mph) and 0-100 kph time of 10.2 seconds, this version offers average fuel economy of 13.7 kpl (38.7 mpg) and emissions of 166 g/km.
For a large car, the Outback is surprisingly nimble with nicely-weighted steering for easier parking and poised cornering. The engine is smooth, quiet and responsive and overall, the driving dynamics really impress.
The cabin upgrade delivers a classy look, with gloss black and silver detailing and standard leather seats. Five adults can be comfortably seated and the generous boot-space of 559 litres can be boosted to a massive 1,848 litres with the rear seats folded. The load floor is flat and has no obstructive lip, so loading is very easy.
Standard features are extensive and include auto lights and wipers, sunroof, rear spoiler, roof rails, powered and heated front seats, powered tailgate, adaptive cruise control, dual-zone air-conditioning, multi-function touch-screen with digital radio, sat-nav, connectivity features, and hill-descent control. Safety features have been enhanced and include pre-collision braking, lane keep assist, steering-responsive LED headlights, rear, side and front cameras, and rear cross-traffic alert.
The Outback is a big seller in America, though is perhaps a little under-rated in some European markets. Yet it is a very strong contender in a niche market sector which includes the Volvo V90 Cross Country and the Audi A6 Allroad which are both significantly more expensive.
This latest restyled Outback has plenty of potent visual charisma and is exceptionally well-equipped for the money. With Subaru’s noted reputation for dependability and backed by a five-year warranty, the Outback should attract wider attention and significantly increase its sales.
Facts at a glance
Model: Subaru Outback Premium
Engine: 2.5 litre petrol
Transmission: CVT Automatic
Performance: 0-100 mph 10.2 seconds, top speed 198 kph (123 mph)
Economy: 13.7 kpl (38.7 mpg)
Emissions: 166 g/km
Model tested was UK-specification and equipment levels and prices may vary in other markets.