Tag Archive | "Subaru"

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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No Longer Impressed By Impreza

With a sense of loss to real car enthusiasts, Subaru have confirmed that they are dropping the Impreza model and the high performance WRX-STI version (pictured – now identified separately from the other derivation) in the UK. Although the Japanese and the Americans love these cars and buy them in droves we don’t have the same affection for them. This is undoubtedly not so much because of a lack of ardour for them but rather – being old school – they are becoming simply too expensive to insure and run. Our American cousins may complain about the cost of petrol in the USA but frankly they have no idea, do they? We should be so lucky.

In their earlier incarnations they excelled on the rally circuit, especially in the hands of the late, great Colin McRae. At one time they dominated the scene but as rules changed and cars became more technical and fuel efficient so the Subaru’s dropped out of favour. Nevertheless, they are still out there in the hands of privateers on the world rally circus.

The company have been evaluating the new Impreza in Britain but they have failed to realise any demand so it won’t be coming here. Fans of these cars should buy now whilst stocks last, as they say. The sad truth is that these performance cars can no longer compete with modern opposition like the VW Golf R and the Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X, especially in terms of design and emissions. Obviously the dealers will still maintain all servicing schedules and parts supply as you would expect well into the future.

Subaru are looking to the future and are pinning their UK hopes on the brilliant new sports car, the BRZ and the recently released and rather good crossover called the XV (featured a while ago on Motor Blogger). There are also new versions of the sturdy Forester and Outback SUV’s. There is no confirmation of the fate of the ageing Legacy which continues for the moment but seems to be under threat.

Subaru have a small if firm following in Great Britain. Their vehicles are seen to be reliable with a tried and tested four-wheel drive system. They are especially beloved of people who like to ferry Labrador dogs across fields. Unfortunately time moves on and nostalgia not being what it used to be, the public has moved on with it. Hopefully this refreshed look to the range will bring them fully back into focus.

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Surprising Subaru

Just when it seems that the automotive industry is all getting a bit dull and the usual vehicles are taking on the usual roles, a little ray of sunshine sometimes breaks through to illuminate something a bit different.

Subaru have obviously been building cars for years but they’ve never really broken through into the major league. Certainly they have a reputation for quality and class leading four wheel drives but they have never been seen to feature in the mass market, appealing more to the country set with cars like the Legacy and Forester. They do however, have a long and proud association within the world of rallying.

Well, now things are changing. The Subaru XV has been named SUV of the year by at least one set of judges. This move into the mainstream market may be as a result of the company’s tie-up with Toyota that has so far produced the stunningly good BRZ/GT86 sports car. Whatever, they seem to be onto a winner.

The experts reckon that in the highly contested sector of ‘crossover’ 4×4’s the new Subaru XV beats the more accepted offerings from Kia, Mazda and even mighty Audi. The car provides a mix of an enjoyable and involving on-road drive with real off-road ability. Fuel economy was also considered good for this sector.

One of the aspects of the product that really tipped the balance in Subaru’s favour was the company’s terrific customer care deal ‘Everything Taken Care Of’. The list of aftercare offerings in this package has to be seen to be believed and it is at no extra cost!

Lucky buyers will get minor dent and scratch repairs to body and alloys along with a monthly wash and an annual valet. How much is that worth in aggravation alone? An annual wheel alignment check, service collection and delivery and lost key replacement also feature. All this and more is in addition to the usual warranty. The dealer will even store your winter wheels and tyres for you and arrange a contribution to your insurance excess. How good is that?

So; an attractive all-rounder that starts at around £21k and is good to drive on and off road; has a range of decent engines and is good looking to boot has got to be worth considering. Subaru is apparently the Japanese word for the Pleiades cluster of celestial bodies, hence the badge. Why have the mundane when you can reach for the stars?

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