By Wayne Gorrett
➤ New exterior design and upgraded interior.
➤ 6-speed manual & Lineartronic (CVT) transmissions.
➤ 4WD with torque vectoring and X-Mode all-terrain system.
➤ Priced from £27,995 to £31,495.
The original Subaru Outback caused a few industry ripples when it arrived on our shores a little over twenty years ago. So many in fact, that it created an entirely new segment by fusing the benefits of a sizeable family estate with some clever off-road technical wizardry.
Its gravitas in the UK has altered little during the intervening years and the Outback remains Subaru’s UK flagship model.
Earlier this month, the new fifth-generation Outback went on sale in the UK sporting an all-new exterior design and a higher quality interior, coupled with a raft of new safety kit.
More evolution than revolution, Subaru’s designers have enhanced the Outback’s identity while staying true to its rugged roots. In front, the hex grille and hawkish headlights integrate with the bumper, following other current Subaru family models.
But it’s on the inside where the more tangible changes will be found. The use of higher quality materials offer a more premium fit and finish with a seven-inch touchscreen infotainment and navigation system taking centre stage.
There’s more storage and overall cabin space than before and boot capacity has increased to a practical 559 litres, accessed via a powered tailgate. There’s a new side-sill footstep for easier access to the standard-fit roof rails, too.
Subaru’s EyeSight CAS
The new Outback retains its five-star Euro NCAP safety rating thanks to the introduction of ‘EyeSight’, Subaru’s advanced collision avoidance system which acts as a second pair of eyes for the driver.
Deployed for the first time on European and UK-bound Outback models, the system uses stereo colour camera technology to monitor both road and traffic ahead for hazards. The system’s two colour cameras are located either side of the rear view mirror to detect the presence of vehicles, pedestrians, cyclists and other potential hazards.
EyeSight comes standard with every Outback fitted with Subaru’s Lineartronic (CVT) transmission and comprises six separate features: Pre-collision braking, pre-collision throttle management, adaptive cruise control, lane departure and sway warning, pre-collision steering assist and lead vehicle start alert. With EyeSight comes the additional benefit of lower insurance ratings, too.
The Outback uses an active grille shutter on the front of the car to improve fuel consumption. It closes to warm up the engine faster and, while driving, it closes to reduce wind resistance and cold airflow. When the engine gets hotter, it opens to cool off the engine.
Engines and transmissions
The engine line-up for UK-bound Outback models remains unchanged with a pair of four-cylinder horizontally-opposed Boxer units, mounted deep in the engine bay for a lower centre of gravity, which translates into improved vehicle handling.
Outback buyers can choose between a 2.0-litre turbo-diesel, producing 149bhp and 350Nm of torque, or a naturally-aspirated 2.5-litre petrol unit offering 174bhp and 235Nm of torque.
The 2.0-litre diesel engine will be offered with either a six-speed manual transmission or Subaru’s Lineartronic (CVT) transmission, while the 2.5-litre petrol engine is paired only with Lineartronic.
On and off road
Subaru’s team of chassis engineers have been hard at work improving the handling quality and ride dynamics with the adoption of new, stiffer front struts which reduce body roll, along with 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.
To enhance on-road handling, all new Outback models are fitted with active torque vectoring which brake the inside wheels under cornering, quelling understeer and oversteer and allowing a more predictable course through the twisty bits.
The off-road capabilities of Outback Lineartronic models are further improved by the addition of the new X-Mode which, working in tandem with hill-descent control, takes command of the engine, transmission, AWD, brakes and other components to better handle steep inclines and harsh terrain. All Outback models enjoy a useful 200mm ground clearance.
Trims and equipment
UK buyers are offered only two trim levels on the new Outback – SE and SE Premium, but both are quite generous with the toys.
Standard SE models are equipped with automatic LED headlamps (and washers), cruise control, active torque vectoring, 17-inch alloys, 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 start-stop and Subaru ‘Intelligent Drive’, which allows drivers to select different engine modes according to road conditions.
SE Premium models add a sunroof, keyless entry and push-button start, 18-inch alloys, leather seats and a powered rear tailgate.
2.0d SE 6-speed manual £27,995
2.0d SE Lineartronic £29,995
2.0d SE 6-speed manual Premium £30,995
2.0d SE Premium Lineartronic £32,995
2.5i SE Lineartronic £28,495
2.5i SE Premium Lineartronic £31,495.
I hope to bring you a ‘first-drive’ report of the new Subaru Outback in the coming weeks. Until then – and because you have been – thanks for reading. ^WG.