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Subaru breaks out new Outback

2009-10-20 13:05
Vehicle Specs
Manufacturer Subaru
Model Outback
Engine 2.5l flat-four
Power 123kW @ 5 600r/min
Torque 229Nm @ 4 000r/min
Transmission Six-speed manual, CVT
Zero To Hundred 9.6-, 10.4 sec
Top Speed 201km/h, 198km/h
Fuel Tank 65l
Fuel Consumption 9.1l/100km
Weight 1512-, 1552kg
Boot Size 490l
ABS Yes, with EBD
Airbags Seven
Tyres 225/60/17
Front Suspension McPherson strut, lower wishbone
Rear Suspension Double wishbone
Warranty 3 year/100 000km

Lance Branquinho

Are you an ardent weekend traveller? Got kids? Not keen on a stability compromised soft-roader? How about the new Outback then?

The ride height elevated wagon version of Subaru’s latest Legacy sedan is now available locally with a single engine derivate driving either a six-speed manual for CVT transmission.

Subaru’s latest Outback (the fourth generation) styles most of its design cues off the rather uninspiring Legacy. A striking car it most definitely is not, especially the lopsided and oversized grille treatment.

Bigger, better?

In terms of dimensions the new Outback measures 4.77m bumper-to-bumper (95mm larger), whilst the car is now 50mm wider and 70mm taller than its predecessor too.

Axle spacing increases by 75mm (rendering better legroom), whilst front and rear overhangs shrink by 10- and 20mm respectively, which marginally improves approach and departure angles.

Sports 213mm of ground clearance and a viscous locking centre diff, which should ensure enough traction to get you to some scenic vanatge points...

Although Outback shares Legacy’s all-round independent suspension (McPherson strut front, double-wishbone rear wheel attachment) dampers have been recalibrated to cope with its greater ground clearance and subsequently higher centre of gravity.

The 213mm worth of ground clearance is impressive in absolute terms, yet this is an independently suspended car, so it’s all relative.

If you rush it over rough terrain it will bottom out though, rendering the theoretical 213mm worth of clearance theoretically inconsequential, which is true (in mitigation) of any independently suspended all-wheel drive vehicle without off-road biased air suspension.

Not quick, but application specific - allegedly

Stirring the new Outback along is Subaru’s single-overhead (or is that on the side?) camshaft 2.5l 16v flat-four.

Sharing its internal architecture with the Forester engine of similar capacity, the 2.5l flat-four features tailored camshaft lift characteristics and porting design, specifically adapted for the Outback application.

In short, it’s not powerful, but should prove utterly reliable.

Power factors to 123kW at 5 600r/min and peak rotational force runs 229Nm at 4 000r/min, which means the 1.5t Outback is not the swiftest all-wheel drive five-door around.

Between the two transmissions Subaru claims a 0-100km/h sprint time of 9.6 seconds for the six-speed manual and 10.4 seconds for the CVT. Consumption for both transmission derivatives averages out to 9.1l/100km.

Subaru says the Outback can tow 1.5t. With only 229Nm of torque don't expect your boat to be getting to the slipway swiftly is there's plenty of heavy transport traffic to be overtaken ahead...

Drive is distributed via Subaru’s symmetrical all-wheel drive system, which features a viscous coupling limited-slip centre differential.

I would hardly recommend attempting a grade five off-road trail in the Outback, yet the slippy centre diff should ensure a high level of traction security on dirt roads, especially if one of the four wheels passes over a particularly treacherous undulation.

Outback rides on Yokohama Geolander tyres, measuring 225/60 and mounted on 17-inch alloys, which are an apt compromise between low-intrusion highway speed accoutics and dirtroad capability.

With fully independent suspension at each wheel corner (and dampers set accordingly for the increase in ride height over its Legacy platform sibling) dynamics are superb.

Wagon practicality

Staying true to its utility billing Outback’s cabin has a surfeit of stowage spaces and uncluttered ergonomics.

With the additional of an electrically actuated parking brake utility space between the front seats has been opened up which also contains a 12v power outlet and auxiliary infotainment input.

Both Outback models are serviced by a Kenwood Sound Meister tuner/6-CD changer as standard.

Loadbay swallows 490l with the rear seats in place. Cabin comfort for passengers buoyed by an increase in legroom.

Passenger comfort is outstanding with low levels of noise and vibration intrusion and first class (like in air-travel) legroom.

Outback’s loadability increases by 31l over the outgoing model, now tallying at an impressive 490l.

The functional 60/40 split/fold seating arrangement can be actuated via a lever in the cargo bay. This nullifies the irritation of having to walk around to the second row seating each time you’re at the load bay with a bulky item and need to fold the seats flat for increased loadspace.

Perhaps the Outback’s most appealing feature is the decrease in price over the version it replaces.

The six-speed manual retails at R345 000 (R14 000 cheaper) and CVT at R358 000 (R11 000 cheaper).


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