SUBARU claims to have pioneered the Crossover concept with the Outback’s arrival in Europe in 1996, writes Allan McIntyre.
This was a model that was built to combine comfort, interior space and the on-road handling of an estate with the off-road capability of a sports utility vehicle.
So has this latest model - the fourth-generation Outback - managed to keep pace in this ever-growing Crossover sector?
I reckon the answer is yes, although I can only vouch for the All Wheel Drive model’s on-road abilities as I didn’t manage to venture off the tarmac during my test drive.
The new Outback is longer, wider and taller than its predecessor and has a spacious interior as well as a very substantial loading area.
I didn’t think the interior finish matched Subaru’s ‘premium-quality feel’ description but it was tasty enough and all models feature a high standard spec, which includes cruise control, electric sunroof, dual-zone, fully automatic air-conditioning, audio system with six speakers, a Bluetooth hands-free system, automatic lights and wipers, and a powered driver’s seat that offered excellent comfort.
There is a seven-model range available in the UK, including a choice of one diesel or two petrol engines and three trim levels, starting with the £26,795 2.0-litre diesel S model and rising to the £35,795 petrol 3.6R.
The test vehicle was a 2.0D SE, which I reckoned at just under £28,000, was great value.
The 148bhp diesel unit produced lots of power throughout the range and it was remarkably quiet at cruising speeds
With a zero to 62mph time of 9.7 seconds and a top speed of 120mph it was no slouch and was responsive enough going up and down the smooth six-speed manual gearbox. It isn’t thirsty either as you will get 44.1mpg on combined cycle.
Despite its height and a ground clearance of 200mm, the Outback handled well with surprising agility on cornering and ride quality, even over some uneven surfaces, was good.
The Outback has a new bolder look with its upright front grille sharing the Subaru family ‘wing’ motif, new headlamps and fog lamps and muscular wheelarches above the standard 17-inch alloys.
If you like the look of it this model has lots to offer - much more than some higher-priced Crossovers.