Subaru. Goodness, what a few years they’ve had. They were riding high with the Impreza performance car and a raft of sturdy off-roaders. They had a small but ultra-loyal army of followers.
You were either ‘for’ or ‘against’ Subaru. There was no middle-ground, but enough people ‘got’ the Subaru philosophy to make it a successful business.
Then the yen rose in value against the pound making it virtually impossible for the UK Subaru firm to buy cars from the Japanese business at reasonable prices. Subaru crashed with a thud in the UK.
But now the firm is bouncing back. The pound-yen has reached a better rate and Subaru is unleashing new models. First, Forester was unveiled earlier this year and now the Outback is being tickled and titivated.
Outback gains a new CVT (continuously variable transmission), which is essentially a stepless transmission system. CVTs used to be loud and clumsy but not this one. It’s smooth, efficient and adept at handling the surge of power from a 2.0 litre diesel engine.
Add some style touches and a keen price (from just under £30,000) and you can see why Subaru people have a spring in their step again.
The Outback is a good car. It’s a crossover between an estate and an SUV (sports utility vehicle) and was indeed one of the first such crossovers. It isn’t one of the largely fashion-led models, like Nissan Juke or Vauxhall Mokka. Rather it’s a muck-or-nettles model aimed at farmers and country-types. There’s nothing fancy here. Everything, from the chunky style and solid but simple cabin, is built for a purpose.
Outback was first launched in 1996. It took Subaru into a new market and quickly became a familiar model, appealing to people who wanted an estate which could also handle rough stuff.
The new Outback tested here has a 2.0-litre Boxer diesel engine linked to a CVT system called Lineartronic.
It is surprisingly responsive to drive and pretty economical with 44.8mpg on a combined route. It emits 166g/km which compares well with rivals.
The Outback also receives a freshening up inside and out while comfort, interior space and ride and handling are improved.
Upgraded for the 2014 model year, Subaru engineers have now enhanced the car’s handling characteristics with better suspension and the latest version of Subaru’s Vehicle Dynamics Control. The model also features a revised design for both the interior and exterior.
However the main change is the new powertrain pairing.
A world first, Subaru engineers have combined the popular 2.0-litre Boxer diesel engine with the CVT which brings improvements in driveability, fuel economy and emissions while also widening the car’s appeal immensely.
Emphasising the Outback’s sense of toughness and its ability to tackle all roads and conditions, the latest model features body-coloured cladding in place of the previous version’s black plastic.
Larger fog lamps and the addition of a gloss black finish to the front headlamps give the car greater road presence than before. The alloy wheels now have a gunmetal finish as standard.
The upgraded cabin features clearer and more modern instruments.
The 2014 Subaru Outback 2.0D Lineartronic variant will feature a new trim level, the SX with new 17in gunmetal alloy wheels, along with body-coloured bumpers, body-coloured power folding door mirrors and matching colour-coded door handles.
Self-levelling automatic HID headlamps and rain sensing wipers add convenience for the driver. Further highlights include front fog lights, pop-up headlight washers, heated mirrors, rear window defogger with timer, front and side window defrosters, and a windscreen wiper de-icer function.
Inside, the new SX provides the Outback with useful equipment. Audio and cruise control functions are present on the leather-trimmed steering wheel, while new sports seats at the front are heated to provide extra comfort when the weather turns cold. For further comfort and convenience of driver and passengers, air-conditioning, Bluetooth hands-free system, audio system with USB and a display with rear vision camera.
Subaru Outback 2.0D SX Lineartronic PRICE: £31,495. Outback starts at £28,870. You can add leather upholstery and satellite navigation ENGINE: A 1,998cc four-cylinder Boxer engine (horizontally opposed flat-four) emitting 150ps via all-wheel-drive PERFORMANCE: Top speed COSTS: 44.8mpg average INSURANCE: To be decided EMISSIONS: 166g/km WARRANTY: Three years, 60,000 miles