Road test by Mark Slack: Subaru Outback – The thinking driver’s choice

Image - Subaru

Subaru have not had much luck with sales of late despite arguably having one of the most interesting ranges of cars. Having reinvented themselves as an SUV brand, their sales have improved considerably with new dealers also added to the network. In addition to a new all-EV shortly, Subaru have two well established self-charging hybrids with XV and Forester.

My particular focus is on the Outback that is essentially a large estate car with raised ride height and all-wheel-drive. Even the lead-in model of the three trims on offer is loaded with standard equipment and prices start from €41,037/£35,995.

Power comes from a 2.5-litre, 4-cylinder petrol boxer engine that is a well-known Subaru powertrain and delivers good performance via a CVT automatic transmission. While, as with all CVT gearboxes, the characteristic high revs while the gearbox and speed catch up is present, the Subaru box is one of the best of this type that I have driven. The Outback’s, premium build quality means you are well insulated from the outside world but nonetheless the CVT characteristic engine revs are still heard.

The equipment levels, even for a car at this price point, puts many others to shame with everything you might expect, from keyless entry and start and dual zone air conditioning, through to things you might not expect, such as heated rear seats and steering adaptive lighting. Three trim levels – Limited, Field and Touring – offer an increasing range of features as standard but in all honesty most people would find the lead-in model more than acceptable.

Apart from an excellent load space the biggest plus point of the Outback is practicality. With increased ride height, and protection on the wheel arches and bumpers, it is capable of much more than rutted tracks and fields. Space is plentiful inside the car and fold the rear seats and it becomes a mobile dance hall. There are plenty of nooks and crannies to store your in-car detritus and the smart phone integration is quick and easy, something that isn’t always the case.

Subaru have always been a sophisticated, thinking drivers’ choice, in a similar manner to that which applied to Saab, but they have started gaining back some of the mass market appeal they had when the Impreza ruled the rally stages. Long may it continue because Subaru is a brand with real character in an automotive landscape that seems all too similar.

Facts at a Glance 

Model: Subaru Outback Touring

Price: €47,304/£41,495

Engine: 2.5-litre, 4-cylinder, Boxer, petrol

Gears: CVT automatic 

Performance: 0-100 kmh (62 mph) 10.2 seconds/Maximum Speed 193 kmh (120 mph) 

Economy: 7.17l/100km (32.8mpg) Combined driving (WLTP) 

Emissions: 193 g/km (WLTP) 

Model tested was UK-specification and equipment levels and prices may vary in other markets. 


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