Subaru Outback Review
Auto Reviews
Quick Facts
Model spec: Outback, 2.0D SE Price: £27,995.00 Engine: 2.0-litre, Turbocharged, 4-cylinder-Boxer
BHP / Torque: 148 / 350 Max Speed: 124 CO2: 145g/km 0-62mph: 9.7 seconds
Economy/Range: 54mpg combined Tax: £141/year

This is the all new Subaru Outback crossover estate in its 5th gen guise. On the surface the changes between the previous generation’s exterior design look slight but in reality there is more to it than meets the eye.  To some it looks plain, but as I always say if a car is well proportioned it can look stylish and from any angle and the new Outback looks quietly determined. 

But it’s the interior which has received the biggest changes, there is a new 7.0-inch touch screen infotainment system dominating the central console. And the hard-plastic shod interior of the previous gen has been replaced by more soft-touch surfaces and even the odd piano-black finish, or shiny black plastic to you and I.

And you can feel the changes without having to tap on the surfaces, it’s a significant step up in terms of quality for sure, it feels more refined and you feel that Subaru are now offering you a better quality of life, it isn’t more premium its just a lot better.

The interior design is no-nonsense smart but welcoming, it doesn’t offer the carefully structured and rather stern environment of an Audi but its solidly put together in much the same way as an Audi is both on the inside and out.

Standard levels of kit are good, electric windows rather good sound system that sort of thing. The the 2.0D SE on test also comes fitted with 17-inch alloys, Subaru’s symmetrical all-wheeldrive, Hill Descent Control, a rearview camera but oddly no rear parking sensors. Only then do you realise how big the Outback really is.

The Outback measures nearly 5 metres in length and just under 2 meters in width. To some those sort of figures are meaningless. But it does mean something because the Subaru is spaciously accommodating. The driver’s seats are wide and offer plenty of support and rear seat passengers aren’t left short changed either.

Naturally, a big estate will offer a big boot space and so it is the case for the Outback and naturally its going to be bigger than the previous generation. Lets just get the measurements out of the way, 559-litres with the seats up and 1850 litre with the seat folded very nearly flat. That’s good by any car boot measuring standard, if you require more we suggest you hire an LGV for the day.

The Outback is available in six trim levels, the 148bhp, 350Nm 2.0D SE Manual on test is the entry level version and starts at £27k. The Outback only gets two engines for the UK market, a 2.0-litre diesel boxer engine, and for the more adventurous a 2.5-litre, 175 bhp petrol unit. But of course the diesel offers well over 100 more Nm of torques and let’s be honest here, UK drivers really are tight-wads when it comes to the great MPG debate.

The 2.0-litre diesel is a fine enough engine, just a little more noisy at idle than some of its competitors but displays non of that overly harsh diesel clatter. Once you get behind the wheel and up to speed the noise soon dissipates. The engine performs strongly shifting the 1.6 tones of weight with not so much of a fuss. Low and mid-range torque means you have excellent sprinting capabilities and enough ommph for those motorway overtakes. Only the notchy 6-speed manual gearbox lets the side down.

If you are lazy then you can opt for the 6-speed lineartronic auto, but as the next model up in the range its an additional £2k extra. I am not ashamed to say I like diesel’s and like a good mpg score even better and the Outback managed 54mpg on a combined cycle.

So what is it like to drive? Well let me start by saying Subaru have made significant changes to suspension geometry, steering rack and fitted a new set of dampers. Low speed ride is comfortable, the suspension soaks up pot holes and rides over rough surfaces with ease. Its when you decide to ‘attack’ a corner that you suddenly begin to realise the overall set up is geared towards comfort. And you know what? I don’t mind that at all.

On entry into tight corners body roll is present, not enough to make the Outback unbalanced or unsettled but enough to make you realise that its best driven with less intensity. Its perfectly fine on twisty country lanes and relaxing on a long motorway cruise, the Outback isn’t an Pentathlete it’s a long-distance runner.

Subaru has said this is what we’re going to do with the Outback’s ride and handling either accept it or don’t. Take for example those cars which have been specially adapted for UK driving styles and when you drive them the handling is all over the place. Here with the Outback Subaru says this is what we do and this is how we do it. And I like that approach. And I like the Outback.

The Outback’s natural territory is… the outback that Australia term for this sun-bleached and pleasant land. Subaru’s symmetrical All-Wheel-Drive is standard throughout the range so going off-road to the strawberry farm shouldn’t be too difficult, even though the Outback is a little bit more capable than that.

The Subaru has some fierce rivals to contend with, the Skoda Superb Scout, the Passat Alltrack, Volvo XC70. Its a tough call to make, if you really want all-wheel-drive you should go for the entry-level Outback. By doing so you undercut the others by at least £5k but sacrifice leather seats and unnecessary optional extras. It’s your choice at the end of the day.

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