Subaru's Outback Diesel A Compete Package
Subaru's first application of its flat boxer diesel engine in the talented Outback wagon completes a hard-to-beat all-round package of Outback models.
We reckon the all-new Outback is a handy crossover wagon and addition of the diesel powerplant is a smart move by Subaru - one that's right for the times.
What You Get
The new Outback is very highly regarded by the Car Showroom team. Larger all-round than its predecessor, the new package has addressed the rear seat legroom and tight interior space which were our only real criticisms of its predecessor.
Nicely styled, handily priced and exuding Subaru’s overall engineering excellence – and naturally that trademark all-wheel-drive ability – the Outback diesel is the complete package for families and weekend adventurers.
Under The Hood
Subaru says the 2.0-litre engine is the world’s first flat boxer diesel engine. Maximum power is 110kW at 3600 rpm and torque peaks at 350Nm between 1800-2400 rpm with some 300Nm available at 1600 rpm.
Fuel consumption is impressive at 6.4l/100km and with a 65-litre tank, Subaru says a freeway range of 1100km is possible between refills. CO2 emissions are 160g/km.
Drive is to all four wheels via a six-speed manual transmission.
The diesel boxer is intriguing – an engineering masterpiece really. It’s a double overhead camshaft design with a closed loop Diesel Particulate Filter (DPF) and common rail direct injection. All that means very efficient combustion and low exhaust emissions – with the usual small dimensions of the horizontally opposed boxer layout.
We tested the Outback Premium model, which gains leather seats, an electric sunroof and rear vents for the dual-zone climate control air-conditioning. Our test car was fitted with clean, contemporary 'metallic' trim (woodgrain is optional).
And we must say the new Outback interior is a standout. The extra space is quickly apparent particularly in the rear - in fact space between the front and rear seats is up by 68mm and in both front and rear seats, there is considerably more legroom and hip room.
Previous Outback owners will notice the front seats are bigger and have longer slide rails - for lanky drivers. Even the use of an electric park brake has provided extra space between the driver and front seat passenger.
And the doors are 280mm larger for easier rear seat access and installation of child seats.
We liked the leather-wrapped three-spoke leather steering wheel with adjustment for rake and reach. The eight-way power adjustment for the front seats in the Premium model tested provided an excellent driving position. Cruise control adjustment is well done via buttons on the right-side steering wheel spoke.
The Kenwood Sound Master audio is a six-stacker in-dash CD system, MP3/WMA compatible with an AUX jack in the center console. Cupholders and odds-n-ends storage crannies are plentiful (including two cupholders in the fold-down center console for rear seat passengers).
Instrumentation consists of conventional dials with an 'ECO' gauge on the left side and a gearshift indicator light which tells you when to change gears for optimum fuel consumption.
Exterior & Styling
Subaru has taken a huge leap with the new Outback's styling. For starters, the side windows are a framed sash design (safer and less wind noise).
It has considerably more on-road presence with modern, flowing looks, flared wheel arches and a nicely sculptured front end, grille and bonnet.
Visually it doesn't hide its extra size compared to the previous model - 65mm longer, 50mm wider, 70mm higher and a wheelbase that's 75mm longer.
On The Road
We put the Outback Diesel through an extended test - our usual procedures plus a long weekend family road trip. And the stylish Subaru came up trumps.
The latest Outback has a 60:40 split rear seat with seat folding levers in the cargo area - very handy for our surfing gear.
Chassis balance is a feature of all Subarus and this was again evident in the Outback Diesel. Over our mountain roads test route, turn-in was precise and the 2.0-litre diesel was nicely responsive thanks to clever ratios in the six-speed transmission.
At freeway speeds in top gear the Outback cruises nicely with a slick change back to fifth or fourth gear for overtaking.
Around town we did notice some suspension harshness over Melbourne's tram/train track crossings and we would have liked the reversing camera (it comes as part of the optional satellite navigation package) to assist parking in city car parks.
The boxer diesel is a competent powerplant with a nice torque spread, however when cold and under full acceleration it is a little noisier than the latest European diesels. And the clutch on our test car had very little take-up, which meant you had to be very precise when changing gear.
We rate the Outback Diesel very highly. It's a standout package for size and practicality that is ideal for families who don't want to stretch to vehicles like the Toyota Prado.
And everywhere you look, the usual Subaru virtues such as quality and world-class engineering are evident.
Availability of the diesel engine and sharp pricing has the Outback very nicely positioned in this segment.
If all-wheel-drive isn't a factor, Ford's Mondeo wagon is a beauty.
Nice styling; roomy interior; all-wheel-drive; well-built
Diesel can be noisy; some suspension noise over bumps