Subaru Outback

Estate 2.0D SE

Lineartronic

Subaru Outback, front
Subaru Outback, front, static
Subaru Outback 2015 front action
Subaru Outback, rear, action
Subaru Outback, rear
Subaru Outback, boot open
Subaru Outback, interior
Subaru Outback, boot
Subaru Outback

IT'S more than estate, but not quite as full-blown as an SUV. It will go most places a mountain goat can, yet it is quiet, refined and has more than a hint of sophistication.

So, what vehicle am I talking about? One final clue - it would suit a country vet right down to his or her muddy wellies.

The answer is the Subaru Outback, a ramped up estate with the sort of off-road credentials that could shame many soft-roaders and the carrying capacity of a decent sized van.

Manufactured with either a 148bhp, 2.0-litre diesel engine or a 2.5-litre petrol, it is the former which makes most sense on both economic and practical grounds and the one I chose to sample.

The punchy turbocharged flat four is characterful and eager and with 350Nm of torque offers more low down guts than the petrol, despite being 15bhp less powerful, and squeezes more miles out of a litre of fuel.

With CO2 emissions of 145g/km it manages around the 40mpg mark in a mix of cross country and motorway driving. The official combined figure is a creditable 50mpg.

Never a firm to chase design trends for the sake of it, Subaru has nevertheless produced in the current Outback a practical family holdall with genuine on-road presence. It stands taller than most rivals, boasts muscular lines and has distinguished LED headlights.

The cabin is also much smarter than past Subarus with more soft-touch plastic and a sizeable touchscreen infotainment system. Shame, though, that the reflection from the screen is so pronounced.

Standard fitment is a six-speed manual gearbox, but the test car was equipped with Subaru's Lineatronic automatic gearbox, a CVT system which manages to avoid the usual pitfall of similar transmissions which tend to endlessly ‘drone' as the revs rise.

It's a relaxed and reasonably refined combination that makes the Outback a genuine mile-eater. Performance is par for the course rather than outstanding with 62mph coming up in 9.7 seconds and a top speed of 124mph.

There's more than average body roll during hasty cornering but the rubber stays firmly and confidently in touch with the road. A plus-side is the ride remains absorbent and comfortable over pock-marked surfaces and even deep ruts.

There is a huge amount of passenger space within the upright Outback and luggage space is generous too. Before the rear seats are folded the boot can swallow 559 litres of luggage. Pull a lever in the boot and the rear seats folded nearly flat expanding cargo capacity to a massive 2,000 litres, making it one of the roomiest vehicles in its class.

Within the cabin, there are plenty places to store bits and pieces - a big glovebox, door pockers and cubbies.

The SE version comes generously equipped. Cruise control, 17-inch alloys, sat nav. Bluetooth, rear view camera and seven-inch touch screen are all standard. Pay a bit more for the SE Premium and you get sunroof, leather and powered rear tailgate.

FAST FACTS

Subaru Outback Estate 2.0D SE Lineartronic

Price: £29,995

Mechanical:148bhp, 1,998cc, 4cyl diesel engine driving 4-wheels via automatic gearbox

Max Speed: 124mph

0-62mph: 9.7 seconds

Combined MPG: 50.4

Insurance Group: 22

C02 emissions: 145g/km

Bik rating: 25%

Warranty: 5yrs/ 100,000 miles

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