Launched in the UK in 1995 and spawning a whole new vehicle segment, the Outback was the world’s first crossover, say Subaru, successfully combining the benefits of a passenger estate car with the all-road capabilities of an SUV. For twenty years, the Outback has acted as Subaru’s flagship model in the UK, winning praise for its practical, all-road nature and long distance capabilities.The new, fifth generation Outback has just arrived on the forecourts, sporting an all-new exterior design, a significantly higher quality interior and a raft of new safety technology compared to the outgoing model.
During the development of the new model, Subaru looked to build on the Outback’s reputation as a vehicle that can go anywhere and do anything – qualities that have appealed to Outback buyers for over two decades. The new Outback has been developed to offer space and practicality; world-class safety; all-conditions and all-terrain versatility; a higher quality cabin; a more contemporary yet timeless exterior and interior styling; and improved environmental performance to meet changing customer and regulatory demands.
While clearly maintaining the distinctive Subaru Outback identity, Subaru’s designers strove to make the new model more dynamic while keeping true to its rugged crossover roots. From the front, the bumper-integrated hexagonal grille and hawk-eye headlights maintain consistency with other models in the Subaru family, while the profile is a subtle evolution of the existing Outback.
More significant changes can be found on the inside. The new model’s revamped interior uses a range of higher quality materials throughout for a more premium fit and finish, complemented by a new 7.0-inch touchscreen factory-fit infotainment and sat nav system. The latest upgrades have made the new Outback more practical than ever before, with more storage and cabin space, and greater room for all occupants. The boot capacity has increased 4.5 per cent against the outgoing model to 559 litres, with a new Smart Power Tailgate for greater ease-of-use, while a new side sill footstep makes for easier access to the car’s standard-fit roof rails.
New to the latest model, EyeSight is Subaru’s advanced collision avoidance technology which acts as a ‘second pair of eyes’ for drivers, employing stereo colour camera technology to monitor the road and traffic ahead for potential hazards. This is the first time the technology has been made available in the UK and Europe, contributing to the Outback’s maximum five-star Euro NCAP crash test safety rating. The system’s two cameras are located either side of the rear view mirror to detect the presence of vehicles, pedestrians, cyclists and other potential hazards. EyeSight is fitted as standard to every Outback fitted with Subaru’s Lineartronic (CVT) transmission, and includes six features: Pre-collision Braking, Pre-collision Throttle Management, Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Departure & Sway Warning, Pre-collision Steering Assist and Lead Vehicle Start Alert.
With the addition of Eyesight and Subaru’s active and passive safety features, the new Subaru Outback benefits from lower insurance ratings, amongst the most competitive in its class.
There are two engines available in the UK – a pair of horizontally-opposed four-cylinder ‘Boxer’ engines, fitted deep in the engine bay to ensure a low centre of gravity for improved handling, despite the car’s raised ground clearance. Buyers can choose between a 2.0-litre turbo-diesel, producing 150 PS and 350 Nm torque, or a naturally-aspirated 2.5-litre petrol unit, with power and torque outputs of 175 PS and 235 Nm, respectively. Diesel engines will be offered with either a six-speed manual transmission or Subaru’s Lineartronic (CVT) transmission; the 2.5-litre petrol engine is sold exclusively with Lineartronic.
Handling and ride quality have improved over the outgoing Outback through the adoption of new, stiffer front struts, which cut roll, and revised spring and damper rates for a more flexible reaction to bumps. The steering ratio has been quickened in the new model, resulting in more accurate and linear steering response. A more natural steering feel is aided by the steering wheel, now 13 per cent stiffer with a new metal core.
To ensure best-in-class on-road handling, every new Outback model is fitted with Active Torque Vectoring – effectively braking the inside wheels under cornering, quelling understeer and oversteer and allowing a more predictable course through corners. The Outback is now even more capable off-road, with the addition of the new X-Mode control feature on Lineartronic models and carry-over 200 mm ground clearance.
There are two trim levels available on the Outback for UK buyers – SE and SE Premium – which both offer a generous level of standard equipment. SE models are equipped as standard with automatic LED headlamps and headlamp washers, cruise control, Active Torque Vectoring, 17-inch alloy wheels, heated front seats, electrically-adjustable driver’s seat and privacy glass, as well as a 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system, incorporating satellite navigation, audio, smartphone connectivity and a rear view parking camera.
Petrol SE models also feature an emissions-reducing start-stop system and Subaru Intelligent Drive, which allows drivers to select different engine modes according to road conditions for improved economy and performance. SE Premium models add a sunroof, keyless entry and push-button start, 18-inch alloy wheels, leather seats and a powered rear tailgate for added functionality. Prices start at £28,995 which, for a go-anywhere family or business vehicle, is not unreasonable.