Brian Joss –
The fifth generation Subaru Outback is now available with three models to choose from.
Each one offers a different Boxer® powerplant, but the same drivetrain: the latest version of Subaru’s Symmetrical All Wheel Drive™ system mated to the Lineartronic™ CVT. Another common thread is the level of cabin sophistication, ambience, and roominess. Sleeker styling, a more assertive grille and bigger wheels convey the message on the outside.
A key objective with the latest Outback was to move further upmarket in terms of material quality but retain the Outback’s rugged nature and genuine on-road/off-road ability, Subaru said.
A more rigid superstructure has benefits for refinement (as well as safety), with noise levels lowered and unwanted vibrations banished. Improved powertrains also contribute to this. Steering now reacts faster thanks to revised gearing, and crisper handling is a welcome by-product of a torsionally stiff body, which also has new shock absorbers, and revised suspension settings.
The Outback has achieved 5-star ratings for both Euro NCAP and ANCAP testing, and its body has been carefully resigned to place high tensile steel at critical points, further enhancing the crash structures. This has resulted in minimal increases in weight.
The CVT has been further refined for smoother shifting and a more linear feel. Using the paddle shifters, drivers have the option of using six ‘steps’, the turbodiesel having an additional one, to take its torque characteristics into account.
Additional cabin space is gained by moving the base of the windscreen forward by 50mm while the body is 20 mm wider than before. There’s more hip and shoulder room, and an increase in the distance between front and rear seats. Luggage space is up from 490 to 512 litres and there’s a generous 1 801 litres of utility space when the split rear seat is folded.
More sumptuous seating both front and rear (leather-trimmed on all models), Standard features are a sunroof and reverse camera, dual-zone climate control and comprehensive steering wheel controls.
Meeting the needs of the gadget generation has been high on the priority list, and there is a lidded pocket ahead of the shift lever, which contains 2 x USB, Aux and 12 Volt ports. Petrol-engined versions are equipped with 12-speaker Harmon Kardon audio.
Voice control allows the driver to control audio, climate control and telephone systems through a single steering wheel control button.
There is a new 6.2-inch touch screen with an interface reminiscent of smartphones and tablets; which acts as a command centre for functions such as audio, telephony, and vehicle-related settings and systems.