Subaru Outback for

the good times

Subaru Outback, front, action
Subaru Outback, front
Subaru Outback, side, action
Subaru Outback, rear, action
Subaru Outback, rear
Subaru Outback, interior
Subaru Outback, boot

ONE of the problems with this job is that it is easy for time to do a vanishing act well worthy of Paul Daniels' hair.

Just this week I found myself held hostage by the village barber who, assuming anyone who had haircut time to while away on a Monday was a pensioner, chatted for hours and then charged me the concessionary rate. And no, I didn't argue. Such upset comes at a cost.

Later I was asked to reach deep into my lexicon of English jambalaya in order to fulfil a commission of such literary magnitude Melvyn Bragg has asked for an interview. A slogan for the side of a bin lorry. As they say around many a cathedral, where there's muck there's brass rubbing.

So you see, between a heavy workload and the days when you are simply blind drunk, road testing can easily be overlooked. Which is how I came to be panicking about the imminent departure of Subaru's new Outback.

The solution at such times is to dump the dog in the back and head for a planet far, far away. Or Wales. There are many virtues in this. It is tax efficient. Interesting events unfold: why had the police pulled over a line painting wagon on the A55? Had he been writing rude things at junctions? And there are pleasing lunches.

Other things are less enjoyable.

Like the Home Counties gob-on-a-stick who thought the entire beer garden needed to know he was instrumental in fitting Merlin engines with a prejudicial percentage satsuma to the '49 Spatchcock Rotaboat. Sir, for some time I thought you were a champion pearl diver, so little did you come up for air. Here is a tip. It is not normal for your fellow diners to be attempting to drown themselves in the soup.

Of course, I could have put him in the Outback and driven him over a cliff but the car is so effortless and refined at low speed every detail of how regrind a Titchmarch shuttle would have been clearly audible.

This was the petrol 2.5i SE Premium CVT, so I can't speak for the diesel although I have Forester oiler outside and it is quiet enough. It is only available with the automatic gearbox and is hardly what you would call hot. But then do you really want more than 10 seconds to 60mph out of a car which exists for purposes of practicality and flexibility?

Outback, Allroad, Cross Country, they are all names which indicate multiple surface use and beefy build. The Subaru's four-wheel-drive system offers effective traction on medium terrain and sand. If you tow this has to be on the must-see list.

Obviously more time will be spent unhitched on the road and refinement matches the best; quiet on the motorway with steering light enough for easy town parking.

There is nothing dramatic about handling but if you are daft enough to want the Outback for slingability you probably need more time in a lift with a man who knows everything about the fractional quadrangle fluxater valve.

Right let's get in and dodge more ripping yarns. Subaru does not turn out the most exciting cabins and instruments but the Outback is well put together with good quality materials. All models come with an electric driver's seat. In the case of the Premium upholstery is leather to which is added a sunroof, keyless everything and a powered tailgate.

That is over and above the generous SE spec which includes sat-nav climate and cruise control, touch screen infotainment centre, rear-view camera auto this and that and heated seats. There is no DAB radio and some say this is a drawback. If you live somewhere with poor reception it is a godsend.

Space is not any sort of frontier for the Outback. Masses of head and leg room for all passengers and the boot is big. Rear seats drop via a lever inside the hatch. Very handy.

What, then, is the damage? The Outback is not the cheapest around, £31,495 for the Premium. It is good on fuel, 40mpg. However you do get some interesting technology for the money, EyeSight is an auto braking system linked to cameras at the front and rear of the car. There's a lot for the money here.

Right, job done. Now what sounds catchy on the side of a skip?

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