Tag Archive | "4×4"

The Subaru Outback – Sit Back And Enjoy


The Subaru Outback is, essentially, a big, jacked up estate car that seems capable of anything. Take the badges off and the keen-eyed viewer would still say ‘Subaru’. This is a car that wants to be seen as determinedly rugged and outdoorsy and will have no truck (in both senses) with the idea of urban lifestyle.

The surprising thing is the power-train. This is a big, heavy car which you might think would be underpowered with just a 2L four pot Boxer turbo-diesel (148bhp/258lb/ft) mated to Subaru’s own Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT). However, throughout the rev-range the Boxer engine delivers immediate, responsive power smoothly, in a refined manner and without effort. Performance is deceptive and this relaxed attitude eventually made itself felt on the way I drove the car.

Kick down hard and, after a moment’s thought, the CVT box downshifts and the big beast takes off up the road; but I only tried this once or twice by way of evaluation because it simply isn’t the way to use the Outback. It is way too laid-back for that. The same goes for the paddles manually operating the seven speed ‘box. You can do it and it works fine, but hey, why bother? Relax.

There is no point in going into the now legendary Subaru symmetrical all-wheel drive because basically the same kit is used across the range, with the obvious exception of the BRZ sports car Motor Blogger reported on a while back.

MB11 The Subaru Outback   Sit Back And EnjoyThe chassis settings are quite firm which makes the Outback a little fidgety over some of our more blighted roads (i.e. most of them) but, considering its bulk, roll on corners is apparent but well contained. I did like the steering which I found to be direct and communicative. This is an easy car to drive.

Inside, the Outback is typically unfussy. The dashboard is neat and uncluttered although the screen is way too small for this day and age and, in this model, lacked any navigation. There’s a perfectly adequate reversing camera although, for such a big vehicle, it is easy to park anyway. The seats were fine although I could have used a little more side-bolster support, otherwise the interior is utilitarian with some leather and soft but robust looking plastics. The boot is huge and usefully shaped.

CO² is, for these days, a just about acceptable 166g/km and Subaru reckon that 44mpg is possible. Well yes, maybe, if you drive like a parsimonious bank manager, but in the real world 35mpg plus ought to be achievable. There’s only the one engine available with either the CVT or a manual gearbox. You want the CVT, absolutely.

The Outback certainly has off-road potential with 200mm of ground clearance available. It will certainly see off the pretend off-roaders and most of the suburban 4×4’s on the market on our muddy tracks and trails but if you want something for when the going gets really gnarly then look elsewhere. This updated 2014 car is dependable, a good drive and is really practical. At just shy of £32k for the model tested it’s good value. Highly recommended.

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The Latest Subaru Forester


The Forester has been with us since 1997 and has since gone through four incarnations. Starting life as, effectively, a pumped up estate car beloved of country folk, it has morphed over the years through the early stages of life in the SUV world until finally reaching maturity in 2012. That’s the latest version in the photos and it is now a fully fledged adult SUV.

The car in the pictures is an XC version with a 2.0L turbo-diesel boxer engine developing 147bhp. The punch comes from 350lb/ft of torque which comes in low and easy making for a sprightly turn of pace – the traffic light sprint to 62mph is a perfectly acceptable 10.2 seconds and speed tops out just shy of 120.

The first thing to say is that it is physically big yet doesn’t seem so when driving. This may be due to its Impreza DNA. There’s a huge amount of grip on offer from the 50:50 drive distribution and rear Limited Slip Diff.  The boot is vast and well shaped with an easy load base. It’s an easy car to drive. Subaru reckon the Forester XC diesel will average 47mpg and that’s not far off what can be expected in the real world.

The latest Forester offers lots of space and equipment. It is solidly built with a functional if unexciting interior. It’s a much better looking car than its predecessor with smoother, sleeker lines. As a Subaru it has a certain reputation to uphold; one that suggests ruggedness and reliability rather than trendy design tweaks or urban pretensions.FOR1 The Latest Subaru Forester

On twisting roads the Forester belies its size and cracks along with decent in-gear acceleration. For a car designed to be content to go down green lanes as well as motorways there has always got to be a compromise in handling but overall, body roll is controlled and the ride comfortable.

Inside, the functionality continues. The dashboard is uncluttered and the usual controls make an appearance on the steering wheel. Overall, we liked it. The rear view camera screen is too small and a bit distant. The system works well enough and, curiously for such a big car, the Forester is very easy to park, but I‘d like the bigger picture. The driving position is good. There’s plenty of adjustment and the driver sits, enthroned, with a lofty command of the surroundings.

This is the ideal ride for the outdoorsy family but this car will always be a niche choice. Subaru have taken care to leave the bling to others and stuck to their guns. This is a good thing. There are petrol models and an option for them is a couple of  ‘sport’ modes but we’d suggest that this diesel is the one that buyers will go for. The Forester is worth the money, around £27k, and will, we believe, provide long-term reliable transport. Recommended.

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Range Rover Sport & The Pikes Peak Challenge


On the 20th March Motor Blogger reported that the new Range Rover Sport was to be officially announced at the New York Show on the 26th of that month and, as if by magic, it was. Since then it has been gathering plaudits from all sides as being all things to all men and doing those things very well indeed.

Land Rover engineers have pulled off something a bit special. This car is apparently terrific off-road as you’d expect whilst being smooth and calm when ferrying the ankle-biters around town yet still manages to be a great drive. Obviously it’s no sports car but, for a vehicle this size, it makes for very rapid progress with handling characteristics you’d expect from a smaller motor. It’s even the perfect car for driving mud-splattered Labradors up and down motorways.

To prove the merits of the Sport still further Land Rover have decided that it will undertake various challenges around the world in the toughest of environments. The first of these challenges was to pit the car against the might of the Pikes Peak hill-climb in Colorado – ‘The Race To The Clouds’.

This is an event that has been going on now for some 91 years and has shown itself to be the ultimate test of man and machine. It is 12.42 miles of snaking road with 156 corners that clings to the side of a mountain. The actual challenge takes place on June 30th and a host of vehicles are taking part. Even World Champion rally driver Seb Loeb is having a go in a Peugeot 208 T16 with a massive wing and a front spoiler the size of a giant’s snow shovel.

To test the driving merits of the Range Rover Sport an ace American racer and stunt driver called Paul Dallenbach set a new record for a production standard SUV by piloting the thing up the hill in just 12 minutes 35.61 seconds; that’s an average speed of 59.17mph on a highly tortuous and dangerous route.RR2 Range Rover Sport & The Pikes Peak Challenge

Dallenbach used the version with the 5.0L supercharged V8 engine, obviously. A roll cage and full harness was fitted (look for Pikes Peak videos to find out why) but otherwise it’s the car you and I would buy if we had the £51k plus that is needed at the bottom of the price list. Most drivers will probably settle for the V6 diesel. Fortunately that’s no slouch either.

This new Range Rover benefits from the lighter underpinnings of its big brother and a mostly aluminium construction meaning it tips the scales by 800lbs less than its predecessor. No wonder it’s fast.

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Frugal Four By Fours


Four wheel drive vehicles have taken a bit of a pasting in the reputation department historically. They have been pilloried for being ‘gas guzzlers’ and ‘huge’ and generally a scourge to the greening of our planet. Yet they are also very handy when the going gets rough which is why there is still a healthy demand for them and manufacturers have made great inroads into answering the complaints. That’s right – buyers can now purchase small but perfectly formed 4×4’s that also offer great fuel economy coupled with low emissions.

For most users, four wheel drive and a raised ride height are all that is needed as most of these vehicles will never do any serious mud-plugging. Agricultural users need not apply. Thanks to the wonders of modern automotive technology you can have your green cake and eat it too.

A case in point is the FIAT Panda 4×4. We’re quite keen on this car here at Motor Blogger and reviewed it a while back. It’s small certainly but is a handy choice for the rural school run or for just pottering in the countryside. The small size belies its ability off road. Not a huge amount of ground clearance obviously but otherwise this is a very competent vehicle indeed. It only coughs out 114g/km of CO² and should achieve nearly 60mpg from its TwinAir petrol engine.

MINI1 Frugal Four By FoursMINI’s largest car to date, the Countryman D-ALL4 (shown), offers five seats, comfortable seating for four and room for a small one, although boot space is slightly compromised for space. Really it is a crossover rather than a proper four by four but it is stylish and does have that extra on-road safety feature. Figures are similar to the FIAT but with a little more in the way of emissions from the bigger diesel engine.

The Vauxhall Mokka (pictured) might not seem to be the first choice when it comes to 4×4 but it does make for an interesting alternative. It is a surprisingly good drive and has a spacious interior. Again the figures are similar to the previous cars. Then of course there’s the new kid on the block, the Dacia Duster, which is winning plaudits at the least expensive end of the all-wheel drive consumer market. It’s emissions are a little higher as you’d expect from a more basic engine but it is still low compared to the 4×4’s of old. Fuel consumption is about the same though.MOKKA1 Frugal Four By Fours

With alternatives from Nissan, Mitsubishi, Suzuki and Mazda the modern 4×4 market offers excellent choice of these versatile vehicles but they can’t be called ‘gas guzzlers’ any more. Maybe we should call them ‘fuel-sippers’.

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Most Wanted Cars For WAGS


For those of you who haven’t been on this planet for the last few years, a WAG is the female partner of a footballer and stands for “Wives And Girlfriends”.  These WAG’s are famous for their choice of luxury cars and often their choices influence many of the public.

The most infamous WAG’s choice of car is the Range Rover Sport.  It’s chunky looks, brutish power and beautiful interior make it the perfect choice for these young and rich ladies to cruise around in style.  There is also plenty of room for the school run while still looking ultra cool and being protected in a big cocoon of safety and class.

The thing that WAG’s love about the Range Rover Sport is the “Bling” factor.  Lots of shiny chrome, beefed up body parts and flashy lights is everything that a WAG looks for in a car and the Range Rover Sport does it all with ease.  They are also very easily “kitted up” with lots of little extras and can easily accommodate some huge alloy wheels.

Other cars that WAG’s love include Bentley’s for similar reasons but the Toyota Prius is also a favourite for the WAG that likes to show off the fact that she is “economically minded”.  As more and more people have begun to complain about how wasteful a 4×4 is with the planets resources, it has become more and more fashionable to drive around in a hybrid and show that you really care!

However, there is now the perfect compromise with the new member of the Range Rover family.  The Range Rover Evoque was released in 2011 and unbelievably looked as good as it did in its original concept stages.  The Range rover Evoque has all the class and bling factor of its bigger brother, the Range Rover Sport, but it is smaller and more economical.

The beauty of the Range Rover Evoque is that it is a 4×4 but its emissions and petrol consumption is very similar to a standard family saloon, meaning that the argument of being wasteful with the planets resources doesn’t really stand up.  However, the benefit of still having a stunning car with big wheels and lots of shiny chrome remains.  The interior of the car as well is truly amazing.  The levels of comfort and quality inside make this a car that you will just love to be in and that is why WAG’s are now quickly adopting this as their new car of choice.  Wait for this to be “the next big thing”!

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