Subaru shows the way forward with Outback

outback 10
outback 10

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.