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First drive: Subaru Outback 2.0D 150 SE car review

Subaru

Review

The Subaru Outback is a game changer according to the Japanese company. Subaru’s marketing director Haydn Davies, “The new Outback is the key to unlock the fleet door. We believe this car will fare well in the contract hire sector of the market, as the residuals are good.”

Subaru has spent the past two years rebuilding its dealer network and its aim is to have a range of SUVs that people want alongside the STi. The strategy of filling key open points within the dealer network while re-establishing its rural customer base is crucial for Subaru to expand and reach 5,000 sales a year.

First introduced in the UK in 1995, the Outback has retained its all-wheel drive prowess but is now much more elegant to look at. It features a hexagonal grille and hawk-eye headlights, while the side profile retains many of the previous model’s characteristics.

The most significant changes have been on the interior: the plastics are of better quality and the cabin is a vast improvement on what went before. There’s also a new seven-inch touchscreen infotainment and sat-nav system.

On a quest to grow the brand and with eyes on the fleet sector, Subaru has fitted its latest technology as standard to its flagship car with the Lineartronic (CVT) transmission – it is called EyeSight and is the Japanese maker’s own advanced collision avoidance technology.

Monitoring road and traffic conditions ahead for potential hazards, EyeSight acts as a ‘second pair of eyes’ for drivers and has contributed to the Outback’s maximum five-star Euro NCAP crash test safety rating. This has helped to keep insurance levels down, while at the same time this kit should appeal to safety conscious fleets.

Two engines are available in the UK, a 2.0-litre turbo-diesel, producing 148bhp and 350lb-ft torque, and a naturally-aspirated 2.5-litre petrol unit, with power and torque outputs of 175hp and 235lb-ft, respectively.

When driving the new outback, the first thing that stands out is how quiet the 2.0-litre diesel engine is – more refined than some of its more premium rivals. The only downside is that, at times, the 148bhp made the car feel a little underpowered. We drove the car with the CVT automatic transmission, so our advice is that you will need to work the box when overtaking.

When it comes to practicality, the Outback’s capacity has grown by 4.5% compared to the outgoing model. The Outback now stands at 559 litres, with the seats in place. This stands against the VW Tiguan, with 400 litres capacity, while Volvo’s XC60 has 490 litres of luggage space.

Subaru is aiming high with this model and has cars such as the Audi A6 Allroad and the VW Tiguan in its sights.

Growing the brand with its flagship car in fleet is key for Subaru and, with a list price starting from £28,995, it may well find a few niche fleets that need good off-roading ability combined with a decent amount of comfort.

Simon McBride

CO2 emissions and fuel consumption data correct at time of writing. The latest figures are available in the Fleet News fuel cost calculator and the company car tax calculator.

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