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Subaru boxes clever with its load-lugging Outback 

THE Subaru Out-back has been around for some time now and a recent makeover has made it a whole lot better.

It arrived in Europe in 1996 and was one of the first crossover vehicles – combining family estate features with off-road capabilities.

The Outback rivalled SUVs with its loading space and high ground clearance, ideal for motorists who needed to venture off the beaten track.

And the upgraded model has certainly added to the model’s appeal.

Engineers have made signifi-cant changes to the front and rear suspension and this has resulted in much improved ride and handling.

Comfort for driver and front and rear passengers is excellent in this spacious big estate with lots of elbow, leg, and headroom.

The cabin has been upgraded and features clearer instrumen-tation with a liquid crystal cluster display.

But the interior still falls a bit short of the quality you would expect in a car costing £31,495.

One thing you don’t fall short on in this Outback is space for lugging lots of baggage or large items.

The loading area is huge – 526 litres with the rear seats upright and this extends to a flat area of 1,677 litres with rear seatbacks folded.

The boot also benefits from a low loading sill and there is a concealed storage area.

If you fancy an Outback you won’t have to spend too much time on deciding which model to choose from.

It only comes in SX spec with the one engine and the only choice you will have to make is on transmission.

There’s a manual version but the test model featured a world first for Subaru.

This is the combination of its renowned 2-litre Boxer diesel engine with a Linea-rtronic CVT (continuously variable transmission).

There’s plenty of power in this 148bhp unit and it delivered this smoothly but quickly enough when required through the auto box.

It can reach 62mph in a respectable time of 9.7 seconds and, with a top speed of 121mph, cruised along quietly at motorway speeds.

Fuel economy and emission figures are improved in the new model with 44.8mpg combined for the auto and CO2 of 166g/km.

For a car of its size, the four-wheel drive Outback was surprisingly agile on cornering with super grip under wet conditions.

The six-speed manual version is just £5 short of £30,000 but the list of standard equipment for the pair is impressive.

It includes a power-sliding glass sunroof, self-levelling auto HID headlamps with rain sensing wipers, audio and cruise control functions on the leather-trimmed steering wheel, and heated front seats.

There’s also dual-zone auto air conditioning, Bluetooth hands free, audio system with USB connectivity and VGA centre display with rear vision camera.

The Outback’s off-road capabilities are emphasised with new body-coloured cladding and other exterior changes include larger fog lamps, 17-inch gunmetal alloy wheels, body- coloured bumpers and power folding door mirrors with integrated LED indicators, matching colour-coded door handles, silver roof rails and a roof spoiler.

Subaru’s load-lugging Outback offers motorists an alternative to SUVs and although it looks a bit on the pricey side this is a big estate that is tough enough to tackle all conditions – on and off-road.