Outback 2.0D SE NavPlus
four-wheel drive estates are
enjoying a boom, and the latest
Outback from Subaru is not only
suitably sizeable but has the vital
ingredient diesel power...
A HIGH-RIDING MID-SIZE ESTATE, the Outback dresses smarter these days although
there remains a discernible edge of toughness about it hinted
at by the thrusting nose, bonnet air scoop and muscular wheel arches.
In spite of having the off-road capability and ground clearance to tackle rough
ground with ease, much like Volvo's V70 XC and Audi's A6 Allroad, Subaru's 'toughened-up'
crossover estate is most likely to serve more on metalled roads than muddy,
Which explains the executive-look cabin and its fully-loaded equipment list.
Standard kit on the SE NavPlus includes 'must have' items such as leather upholstery,
power sunroof with sunshade, on-demand powerfold heated door mirrors, electric
windows, rear-view camera, 10-way power driver's seat with a two-setting memory
function, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated front seats, push button
engine Start/Stop with keyless entry and locking, and a Bluetooth hands-free
open a door and there's a touch of Texican about it everything is big:
big seats with big open spaces around them. This bolder-looking Outback is longer,
wider and taller and its 75mm-longer wheelbase provides increased cabin space
and it sure shows. To state the obvious, all those travelling 'Outback'
class, whatever their seat allocation, will enjoy plenty of personal space.
Outback is longer, wider
and taller and its
cabin space and it
To state the obvious,
all those travelling
whatever their seat
allocation, will enjoy
plenty of personal
And masses of light, too, courtesy of the large greenhouse and deep windows.
Like the sun? Good, because above your head there's a large tilt 'n' slide glass
sunroof with a sunblind and one-shot operation.
The well-shaped leather-upholstered and heated front seats are supportive and
enhanced by large outer armrests on the doors and their long seat bases provide
good under-knee support for extra comfort on longer journeys. The Outback driver
fares particularly well: along with a grippy reach-and-rake-adjustable leather-wrapped
three-spoke steering wheel, power lumbar support, and two memory settings for
the multi-adjustable seat, he (or she) can be sure of sitting pretty.
And there are plenty of other features that make life behind the Outback's wheel
as stress free as possible, including a smooth-working electronic push/pull
handbrake with hill hold on demand; cruise control (a fingertip away on the
steering wheel, along with voice activation for making phone calls, specifying
navigation destinations and operating the audio), auto lights and wipers, glasses
holder, an ergonomic dash and smart, crystal clear white-on-black instruments
outlined with aluminium rings.
And that other daily essential climate control. The Outback's is a fully-automatic
dual-zone set-up and it blasts out all the hot or cold air you'll need.
Also appreciated was the matt black fascia top so no annoying in-screen
reflections on a sunny day. And much liked, too, was the full-postcode SatNav
with an eight-inch touchscreen monitor that's dead easy to set and use, as well
as the reversing camera with in-screen guide lines to take the hassle out of
reverse parking. Naturally there's iPod and video inputs and a 12-volt power
feed in the centre armrest box, plus generous space around the cabin to stow
all the 'stuff' that seems to find its way into a family car.
is well-specified too: height-adjustable front belts, active front head-restraints,
dual-stage front airbags, head and chest-protecting side airbags, curtain airbags,
an electronic stability control programme, traction control, front projector
foglamps, high-intensity headlamps with pop-up washers, and windscreen wiper
Entry and exit is easy; the doors shutting with little effort and that well-engineered
thunk that says 'quality'. In the rear cabin it's like a limo; six inches
of headroom and back-seat passengers can seriously stretch out lounging,
the average person will still have eight inches between their knees and the
wide, well-padded centre armrest is sure to bring out your selfish side
while three can sit very amicably side-by-side with no crowding, you'd really
rather they didn't.
In the rear cabin its
a limo; six inches of
passengers can seriously
lounging, the average
person will still
have eight inches
between their knees and
the front seatback...
But the best is still to come: the rear seatbacks are reclinable over a 20-degree
range, so if you want to snooze until it's time to disembark, then just take
it down and let yourself drift off. Large door pockets as in the front
hold a bottle to keep you refreshed when you're not sleeping.
all the family's luggage along is not a problem the full-width tailgate
makes for hassle-free loading of cases or cargo; pull the release levers in
the boot and the 60:40 split-fold rear seats drop down to form a totally flat
cargo floor with more than enough room to move house the already practical
526-litre boot expanding into a usefully long and flat 1,677-litre loadbay measuring
42 x 78 inches.
And, as throughout the main cabin, the fit and finish of the boot is also A1.
Nice touches are the user-friendly roller luggage blind, pop-out bag hooks and,
below the boot floor (conveniently with a proper stay), a deep storage tray
as well as a 'Tyre Mobility' kit.
Externally, the Outback's tail treatment is in keeping with it's lifestyle appeal;
topped by a roof spoiler, large arrow-shaped (seen from the side) taillights
and large bore tailpipes (one set at each side of the rear bumper) mark it out.
Owners already acquainted with the brand will know that the 'AWD' badge on the
tailgate stands for Subaru's Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive. Although the variable
AWD is able to send 100% of the torque to either the front or the back whenever
necessary, generally the torque-split is set up with a rear-wheel drive bias
for added handling agility.
all of this is done out of sight and out of mind; all the driver is aware of
is the Outback's unwavering stability. On the road this guarantees all-weather
composure with 'all-weather' meaning exactly that: snow and ice as well
as mud and wet grass.
days, unless you drive a Ferrari or V10 Audi R8, few people will want to look
under your bonnet. But that doesn't mean they don't want to know what lurks
there. In the Outback's case it's a flat-four horizontally-opposed 'boxer' engine.
Mounted low to optimise the car's centre of gravity (which in turn makes for
a better-balanced drive), this compact 2.0-litre turboed diesel is as smooth
as one that drinks fuel from the 'green' unleaded pump.
with gusto or with a lazy right foot, this 148bhp 'boxer' 'four-four-two' (four-cylinders;
four valves per cylinder; and double overhead cams per bank) performed willingly,
helped by easy gear selection from the foolproof and deliberate-action gear
with all diesels, the more important figure, that of the engine's torque, is
considerably higher than the brake horsepower: 258lb ft is on tap from 1,800rpm
serving up gutsy pulling power from low down and endowing the Outback with an
obliging character for both town and country driving.
More important is the
recorded during our full
an impressive 44.6mpg
over mixed roads.
should match the official
combined figure of
For many, more important still will be the 'real world' average consumption
figure recorded during our full week's unforgiving roadtest an impressive
44.6mpg over mixed roads. Lighter-footed owners should match the official combined
figure of 47.8mpg.
Top speed is 120mph with 0-62mph done and dusted in 9.7 seconds. Particularly
handy for family holiday trips and seriously long journeys, the 14.3-gallon
tank means 600+ miles between forecourt fill-ups.
You'll find motorway trips relaxing thanks to the legal limit calling for just
over 2,000 revs be warned, though, that 80mph feels more like 45mph.
And the miles are made even more agreeable by the decent ride quality.
Despite its 200mm ground clearance, the Outback handles reassuringly; cornering
with minimal body lean on fast, twisty country roads and gripping as only a
four-wheel drive vehicle can. And it helps immensely that this big estate is
so easy to place accurately on the road. The self-levelling rear suspension
is a boon, making sure its roads manners remain consistent even when fully laden
in workhorse mode.
With its impressive road presence, limo-sized interior and multi-purpose versatility
(not forgetting the permanent all-wheel drive) this latest Outback is just the
job for economy-minded hedonists who want to take their estate where many others
Outback 2.0D SE NavPlus | £30,370
Maximum speed: 120mph | 0-62mph: 9.7 seconds | Overall test MPG: 44.6mpg
Power: 147bhp | Torque: 258lb ft | CO2 155g/km