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Subaru Outback Review

Subaru Outback – You’ve got it all…  luxury, comfort, performance and smart technology

Surprisingly, I found I needed a larger car, as my retirement is now spent travelling for holidays with a need for luggage space, transporting grandchildren and dogs.

Sadly, long gone are my two-seater convertible days. A two-seater would not have accommodated any of these, as the dog cage alone took up all the boot space in my Mini Countryman. What to buy was the question?

I have to admit I’m a Petrolhead, to such a serious degree that I had a string of Alfa’s where every journey was an exciting adventure. Also, I’ve driven most of the Mitsubishi range, always slightly quirky but much more reliable than the Alfa’s!

So, I embarked on test driving the German Estates, Audi, BMW, and Mercedes; all were interesting but had flaws, more worryingly they had a hint of the poser about them. I know that many very sensible people own them but a few of the owners are the ones who tailgate you on the motorway and were the type of people who had ‘brick’ sized phones in the 1980’s.

Then I went off-piste!  I borrowed a Subaru Outback Estate from Livery Dole in Exeter for a weekend. The first strange thing that happened was that my Partner, who believes that anything without a Golf badge on it is the work of the Devil, actually enjoyed driving the Outback. She enthusiastically drove it all the way to Bristol and was won over.

Subarus have had several incarnations, all with 4WD and all with unique Boxer engines. The earliest was as the type of cars that farmers drove or rural hunting, shooting, fishing types. These early Subaru’s were ultra reliable but suffered from a certain agricultural feel, especially in their interiors which appeared to be hewn from blocks of very shiny black plastic. Incarnation number two was the high performance WRX route, all very impressive with gold wheels and in some cases very lairy accessories.

The latest incarnation of Subaru still centres around 4WD and Boxer engines, only now their range covers SUV’s and Estates. The biggest change across the range is the quality of their interiors, smart technology to aid driving and safety and the overall quietness and smoothness of these cars.

Having done my shopping around, I was amazed when I first sat in the Outback to be surrounded with an interior which is actually of a higher quality than it’s more expensive German rivals. The dashboard materials are soft to touch, the seating is supremely comfortable, and the steering wheel has a delightful tactile quality.

The exterior has a lovely, understated degree of style. It’s not flashy and the doors close with a soft clunk, just the kind of security you expect from the door of a bank vault.

So, I bought myself an Outback and joined a small but select band of enthusiasts sharing the secret of their classy cars.  At first the numerous safety systems were a bit of an annoyance. There seemed to be lights and warnings everywhere! As I drive the car more, I am used to them and they are proving invaluable. For example, on long journeys the camera system picks up my eyes wandering and warns me. The seating arrangement automatically adjusts for each driver as the car identifies you.  The small warning lights and slight difference in the weight of the steering tells me when I am crossing the white line, but this is deactivated if I am indicating. The most useful one of all is the small flasher on the door mirror alerting an overtaking vehicle which is particularly helpful for the small blind spot on all cars.

Driving my Subaru Outback is a real pleasure; the Boxer engine gave more than adequate performance and its design means the weight of the engine is lower down in the car which improves the handling as well as allowing a deeper windscreen giving amazing visibility. All of this combined with the symmetrical 4WD makes me even more convinced I’ve bought the right car.

Finally, Subaru have won many awards recently plus much to my delight the Subaru brand appeared in a recent National paper as being a tasteful requirement for ‘Posh’; that’s understated Posh of course!

Nigel Clegg

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