Subaru Outback

Lineatronic

Subaru Outback, 2021, side
Subaru Outback, 2021, front
Subaru Outback, 2021, rear
Subaru Outback, 2021, dashboard
Subaru Outback, 2021, interior

IF script writers were to create a current day series of All Creatures Great and Small, vet James Herriot could well be cast driving around in a Subaru Outback.

It's that sort of car - tough and rugged but definitely not flashy. Probably a better choice than a Range Rover or a Disco, both somehow hijacked by the trendy townie brigade with a penchant for green wellies and inbred labradors.

Recently reborn in Mk 6 form - the Outback model has been around in various guises for a quarter of a century - it follows a well-trod formula in bridging the gap between estate car and off-roader.

In fact, in reality it's both...and as such could claim to one of the very first true crossovers.

Its styling is hardly cutting edge. Rather upright and quite staid, it's nevertheless easier on the eye than the outgoing version but uses a similar 2.5litre petrol engine that drives all four wheels. It's coupled to a Lineartronic, continuously variable automatic transmission.

Now built on a new much stiffer platform, cornering is less roly-poly and noise levels are pleasantly hushed even when the CVT gearbox is straining at the leash.

Noticeably improvements to the suspension system have also aided the ride quality, easily ironing out minor road irregularities and largely suppressing the worst ruts and potholes. Cornering roll is present but much reduced while the light power steering offers greater feedback.

Obviously it has no hot hatch pretensions, but handling is perfectly acceptable by SUV or crossover standards.

The Subaru is fully at home over the rough stuff with various modes to cope with snow, mud or gravel. High ground clearance ensures there's minimal chance of damage.

The 2.5-litre engine pulls strongly, though standing start acceleration is unlikely to provoke too much excitement - 62mph comes up in a leisurely 10.2 seconds.

Tall, with easy entry and exit, the cabin is spacious and airy if a little conservative thanks to a considerably expanse of dark plastic. It does, however, promise to be tough and hard wearing and the quality and fit of materials used can't be criticised. Seats, front and back, are comfortable and generously proportioned and there are large storage bins and door pockets.

The boot, too, is roomy being capable of carrying 520litres of luggage which expands to 2,140 litres with the rear seats folded down. It's accessed via a powered tailgate.

Safety is high on Subaru's priority list. It comes with EyeSight Driver Assist technology which is made up of a host of automatic measures including sign recognition, lane departure prevention, pre-collision braking and driver monitoring system that detects when the person behind the wheel is showing signs of tiredness.

No sign yet of hybrid power on this Subaru, so economy doesn't quite match that of many of its rivals. Nevertheless, our average of 32mpg was by no means an embarrassment during some fast cross country running. This is confirmed by emissions of 161g/km.

FAST FACTS

Subaru Outback Lineatronic

Price: £39,495

Mechanical: 2.5litre, 169bhp, 4 cyl petrol engine driving 4 wheels via automatic gearbox

Max Speed: 120mph

0-62mph: 10.2 sec

Combined MPG: 39.8

Insurance Group: 37A

C02 emissions: 161

Bik rating: 35%

Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles

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