Subaru Outback a real winner

By Ben Selby

Subaru's got it right with style and price, says Ben Selby

The Outback is a mix of tested technology and innovations in technology and style.
The Outback is a mix of tested technology and innovations in technology and style.

It is always the middle child in the family who feels left out. The eldest gets the freedom and the youngest gets all the attention. With it's newer brothers and sisters vying for attention in the marketplace, the same could be said about the Subaru Outback.

But the launch of facelift Outback shows it is still able to cut the mustard, especially given the price.

The release of the new Outback 2.5i Sport kicks things off at $49,990, the same as it's entry level predeccesor, but comes with an extra $6,000 of extra kit.

The 2.5-liter boxer four cylinder is unchanged, still sending 127kW/235Nm to all four wheels via Subaru's proven all-wheel-drive-system.

Good news for lovers of frugal motoring, for the 2.0-litre diesel entry with 110kW/350Nm and 6.0L/100km for the manual and 6.3L/100km for the SLT auto. Buyers can now have premium spec available like its petrol counterparts.

The premium diesel now includesfull leather trim and an electric sunroof and seats for $59,990.

The entry level diesel was $59,990, but has been reduced to $54,990. The grunt of the litter has to be the 3.6R. With 191kW/350Nm thanks to its flat six, it is the most powerful in the range and at $59,990 - or $64,990 for premium spec cars fitted with new roof rails and more rugged looking door sills - At $64,990 it tops things out with pomp and circumstance.

All models in the range feature 213mm of ground clearance and a reversing camera is standard.

Sport, premium sport and 3.6R Premium variants come with Subaru's "eyesight preventative safety system." The system allows the car to detect incoming objects and alert a driver if you wander out of your lane.

Subaru's satelite navigation system also makes an appearance on all models.

Hopping in, it is business as usual in the Outback office, with plenty of head and leg room. The interior is easy to fathom, but the use of hard materials in the premium cars is a letdown though.

A test-drive session with the Outback 2.5i Sport and 3.6R started with the Sport. Straight away, there was a noticeable feeling of solidity.

The new 18 inch alloys certainly look the business but seem rather pointless on a cross-over wagon. The steering is communicative and the weight shifts well in the bends, keeping body roll to a minimum.

On to the 3.6R, the extra oomph from the six sits you up like a startled meerkat. Give it some welly and you don't really notice the lack of a sixth cog, and despite the extra get up and go, at 10.3l/100km, it is hardly a sipper.

As we snaked through the twisty stuff, the all-wheel-drive system came into force as expected, especially when the going got rough.

The even torque spilt on both cars means little effort is required from the driver to get the best out of the vehicles.

After our quick spin, the Outback still presents itself to be a credible package and it is refreshing to see Subaru is packing its long-lived workhorse with equipment and value that it deserves.

*A few errors crept into our Legacy story in Wednesday's print issue. The Legacy GT is not a new model and the 2.5i Premium model does not have adaptive cruise control.

- NZ Herald

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