Subaru Outback Road Test 2016

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ESTATE MANAGEMENT


As each new Outback makes its appearance it can take quite a while to work out the difference. For Subaru it’s a case of subtle evolution over radical replacement. But whilst the Outback’s understated upgrades may not announce their presence, it’s the entire package that continues to make an impression. One of Subaru’s most successful models as the model’s name implies it’s the Australian market that has taken these versatile estates to its heart. And it’s because this Subaru treats ‘down under’ with contempt, the Symmetrical all-wheel drive system able to dismiss most off-road situations with disdain that it enjoys an almost unique position in the UK.


Where Subaru’s Outback differs in comparison to others is that in conception, design and final production it steadfastly remains a family estate car. The fact it’s also one of the most capable SUV’s available seems at times to be almost secondary a fact borne out by the fact the latest version’s rugged looks have been toned down. Apart from the front and rear over moulds and sill protection the new Outback has shrugged off most of its off-roading visuals, the new grille and slightly reprofiled lighting now more conventional car orientated, even the 18” alloys and 225/60 rubber more conservative in appearance. That said protection where it’s needed is still in place as is the increased ride height, wide opening doors and full depth tailgate, the effect now making the Outback more appealing to a greater cross section of buyers.     


The cabin is still overtly Subaru’s almost unique take on a car’s interior. Featuring gloss black piano inserts a 7” Starlink screen that incorporates full connectivity, car monitoring programs and satnav. Trimmed with black leather whilst the quality is without question there’s still the overwhelming feel of keep clean functionality and durability that at times can make the cabin feel maybe a little austere. Switchgear is conveniently located whilst the instrumentation is clear, concise and informative. Comfortable enough to ensure even the longest journeys are covered with ease for up to four other passengers, drop the rear 60:40 split rear seats and a maximum of 1,848 litres of cargo space reveals itself. And should the light commercial space still not be enough you can hook an additional 2,000kg max onto the tow hitch.


Beneath the bonnet there still remains the petrol options, these boxer units still an example of just how potent Subaru’s engines actually are. But for most buyers it will be the 1,998cc flat-4 turbo diesel that will attract most buyers. Delivering 150hp and 350Nm of torque the 316 mixed test miles returned a more than acceptable 42.3mpg which in turn means just short of 500 miles per 60 tank of standard diesel. Mated to a 6-speed manual gearbox although Subaru’s Lineartronic CVT-style automatic is optional, the engine effortlessly delivers a well balanced mix of power and performance exactly when needed, 0-62mph coming up in 9.7 seconds with a top speed of 124mph, the independent suspension keeping the Outback noticeably level on all but the most inhospitable locations.


On or off road the Outback remains remarkably the same, the car’s ability to travel along rough tracks, fields and other less than hospitable surfaces having little effect on the internal composure. The handling in the main is neutral and balanced the car’s dynamics and symmetrical AWD system pulling the front in under most conditions only intense provocation tempting the car to hint at understeer. The 2.7 turns lock-to-lock power steering is well weighted the disc all-round ABS brakes offering precise, even retardation irrespective of what’s beneath the tyres. And when the need to venture off-road presents itself all the driver’s has to do nothing more demanding than keep on steering, the Outback’s 4x4 system taking care of everything else. Choose your path wisely and the Outback will do the rest, this estate capable of far more than its family values appearance would have you believe.   


A style of multi-practical SUV that various other manufacturers are now trying to follow, the Outback range starts at £27,995 for the SE Manual, £30,995 for the SE Premium as tested and £31,495 for the Premium Lineartronic. Add Subaru’s reliability and quality into the package and the prices seem even more attractive irrespective of the type of road you’re traveling.  



By; Mark Stone




Subaru Outback Road Test