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Outback’s at home on and off road 

THE Subaru Outback was something of a pioneer when it arrived on our roads back in 1995.

This was an estate car that also had the capabilities of an SUV – and it quickly became a favourite for motorists who were going off-road daily.

The Outback was just as likely to feature in a Countryside magazine as a motoring publication.

It would be pictured pulling a horsebox from a field and there would be reports of its rising popularity with country vets and docs.

The vehicle has evolved since then but still possesses all of its go anywhere and do anything qualities.

The fifth-generation Outback takes on a more stylish look, brings a higher quality interior and a raft of new safety technology.

This includes EyeSight – Subaru’s advanced collision avoidance technology which acts as a second pair of eyes for drivers and is available in the UK and Europe for the first time.

Two stereo colour cameras – on either side of the rear view mirror – detect ve-hicles, pedestrians, cyclists and other potential ha-zards.

It is standard on all Out-backs with CVT and includes pre-collision braking and throttle mana-gement, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning and sway warning.

The revamped, spacious cabin features a 7-inch touchscreen and there are lots of little storage places.

It is roomy upfront and in the rear where three adults can sit comfortably.

The large boot space is increased by 4.5 per cent to 559 litres and there are handy concealed spaces under the boot floor.

The Outback arrived on UK roads in April and there are two trims – SE and SE Premium – with a choice of two ‘Boxer’ engines.

There’s a 2-litre 148bhp turbo diesel that will be the more popular choice and a 2.5-litre 173bhp petrol unit.

The diesel engines come with either six-speed manual transmission or a Lineartronic CVT with the petrol only available with CVT.

A long list of standard equipment on entry models includes automatic LED headlamps and headlamp washers, cruise control, active torque vectoring, 17-inch alloy wheels, heated front seats, electrically-adjustable driver’s seat and privacy glass, as well as a 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system, incorporating satellite navigation, audio, smartphone connectivity and a rear view parking camera.

The 2.5i SE Premium test model’s additional standard spec included sun-roof, keyless entry and push-button start, 18-inch alloys, leather seats and a handy powered rear tailgate.

I sampled early versions of CVT – continuously variable transmission – and found they struggled to react quickly enough when required.

But the technology has im-proved massively and the system works well in the Outback with power co-ming through on demand.

It also helps the petrol-engine Outback achieve fuel economy figures of 40.4mpg combined, 47.1mpg extra urban and 32.5mpg urban.

The petrol engine was quiet and didn’t lack power with a zero to 62mph time of 10.2 seconds and 130mph top speed.

There was also little engine or wind noise at motorway speeds and the Outback would be ideal for long journeys with excellent comfort.

New stiffer suspension brings improved handling and road grip didn’t disappoint on some country roads.

The active torque vectoring system helps to prevent understeer and oversteer by braking the inside wheels while cornering.

The all-wheel drive Outback is a fine on-road performer but is still just as capable and rugged for off-the-tarmac followers with features including X-Mode with hill descent which distributes power to all four wheels to maximise traction and a 200mm ground clearance.

On-the-road prices start at £27,995 rising to £32,995, with the test model costing £31,495.