Tony Rowen road tests the Subaru Outback 2.0D SE Premium
DRIVING a new car is always exhilarating, but driving a make I haven't driven before makes it a doubly enjoyable experience. This was the scenario last month when I was handed the keys to the Subaru Outback at Maple Leaf Garage in Daventry, which has been a Subaru dealership for three years.
The Tungsten metallic, crossover model was sitting on the forecourt with just nine miles on the clock and I was grateful to Dealer Principal Nick Hill for giving me a quick rundown on the control and instrument functions before I took it out on the road.
Japanese manufacturer Subaru claims to have pioneered the crossover segment with the launch of the original Outback model more than two decades ago. Now in its fifth generation, Subaru has stuck to the tried and tested formula for the latest Outback model but with refinements to appeal to buyers in 2017 with sharpened looks, an interior upgrade and the inclusion of new technology.
My first impressions: the Outback is an attractive looking model. It sits high off the road (200mm of ground clearance), the interior is smart with excellent leg and head space for the driver and passengers, while the standard boot space of 512 litres converts to a cavernous 2,000-litre area with the 60/40 split rear seats folded completely flat. The neat dashboard incorporates easy-to-read instruments and there is an easy-to-use infotainment system. All the instruments are well laid out and fall readily to the touch, allowing the driver to keep their eyes on the road.
My test drive model - the 148bhp 2.0D SE Premium automatic version - is 4.8m long, 1.8m wide and 1.6m high with the Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive system and the tried and trusted Boxer engine, which provides a smooth and progressive power delivery, 17-inch alloy wheels with sensible tyres which offer balance and stability on the road. Standard equipment includes heated leather seats with memory function for both front seats, sat nav and cruise control as well as a pre-collision braking system, a lane departure system and cruise control. The official fuel consumption figure comes in at 50.4mpg and the all-important emission figure is 145g/km of CO2. The cost to put this model on the road is £30,995.
Although my route didn't include any off-road work, I gave it a good work-out on a motorway, dual carriageways, A roads and some single track lanes which provided a good test of the car and afforded me a smooth and relaxing drive despite the poor state of the surfaces of some of the roads. The impression I got was that the Outback would be in its element whatever the weather or road conditions.
The steering has a consistent weight to it and is light enough at low speeds to make parking, even in tight spaces, reasonably simple.
The increased ride height of the car offers good all-round visibility while the lane departure system and adaptive cruise control come into their own on long motorway trips.
Previous Outback owners, who have come to rely on the rugged off-road capability, won't be disappointed by the changes Subaru have made to this latest version, with the addition of on-road ability, and it is likely to win over others who have previously opted for competitors' crossover models.
Subaru has always had a reputation for good reliability, and this latest Outback has the Subaru five-year/100,000 mile warranty. It is, however, highly unlikely that owners will have to use this facility. Nick Hill informed me that warranty work in the Maple Leaf service department is minimal. Normally, the only reason a visit to the dealership will be required is for a service every 12 months or 9,000 miles.
Subaru predict that the 2.0-litre 148bhp diesel automatic version will account for the majority of Outback sales in the UK, but there is also a manual version for those who prefer a little bit more involvement in their driving.
My introduction to Subaru was a very pleasant experience. My lifestyle these days doesn't require a car with the Outback's capabilities, but if it did, it would certainly be one for serious consideration. It has a good, proven engine, is well equipped, is roomy and comfortable and its good looks give it a presence on the road while I am reliability informed that its off-road performance takes a lot of beating.
Maple Leaf Garage stocks a range of new and used Subaru models and is open 9am to 6pm Monday to Friday and from 9am to 5pm on Saturday. It is closed on Sunday.
To view, arrange a test drive or for further information about the Subaru Outback, contact Maple Leaf Garage, Braunston Road, Daventry, NN11 9DY. Telephone 01327 272708 or visit the website www.mapleleafgarage.co.uk