Driving Report: Subaru Outback: safety instead of sportiness

Japanese often have a different view of things. Even with the nightly view of the sky. In the Land of Smiles, in the famous Star Cluster called Seven Star, you count only six celestial bodies. Pleiadians call the astronomers the constellation, in Japanese Subaru, The original Japanese car manufacturer with the same name has accordingly only six stars in the company logo and often represents a different view of things. Almost always it has to be all-wheel, always a boxer engine and in the case of the new outback with each generation a bit bigger. As of the end of March, number five of the five-door crossover model will also live in Europe.

In the USA, the new edition of the Outback is already a hit and contributes significantly to the fact that Subaru sold 513.000 more cars there last year than the much larger Volkswagen brand. The Americans love powerful bodies. With a length of over 4,81 meters (plus 2 centimeters), the outback is not one of the very big ones in the car paradise, but it is definitely one of the larger ones in its trade, and that could be a disadvantage in Europe, especially in Germany. Because the class of such powerful SUV, which includes the Subaru, has lost fans in favor of the smaller models such as Porsche Macan, VW Tiguan or Mazda CX-5.

But the new outback also differs significantly from the tall, boxy SUV. It is more of a jacked-up station wagon and sees rivals for the Audi A 6 Allroad quattro or the Volvo XC 70 AWD, both also with all-wheel drive. A family and leisure car that can be used to bypass traffic jams on a muddy forest path. Such a hostile underground was also the terrain for the first kilometers of the test route in Slovenia. Thanks to its long legs (20 centimeters of ground clearance), the 1,6-ton ship does not touch the center even when the 17-inch wheels have to dig through deep, softened furrows. The bottom line is not a pure-bred off-road vehicle, but at least a station wagon that thanks to all-wheel drive and electronic helpers can free itself from critical situations.

Under the long hood is a two-liter boxer diesel, the only one of its kind by the way and already known from the Subaru bestseller Forester. The performance of 110 kW / 150 PS initially appears on paper as slightly weak as the pulling power (360 Newtonmeter). In addition, the use of a continuously variable automatic (CVT) is not exactly a guarantee for sporty progress. In practice, however, the engine is completely sufficient. Off the beaten track anyway, but also on country roads or highways leave the available "horses" the Outback contemporary Mittraben. Its owners in Spe are of the more relaxed type, squinting more at comfort than at speed records. But if you are in a hurry, the promised top of 200 km / h is always sufficient. The boxing diesel, however, acknowledged the all too impetuous step on the right pedal with audible acoustic discomfort. The Japanese feels most comfortable in medium speed ranges. Then he thanks him with tolerable consumption (around 8,5 liters in 100 kilometers in the test), an excess of comfort and remarkable suitability for long distances.

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Product chief Masayuki Uchida is particularly proud of a safety system that is also being offered in Europe for the first time and is standard on outback versions with CVT. The two front cameras of the "Eyesight" enable various functions: automatic distance and cruise control, brake assist when danger is detected, warning when leaving the lane, or even the driver's notification when the vehicle is in the traffic jam. "The cameras form from their images an 3d view, can recognize pedestrians, cyclists, the lane boundary or obstacles up to a distance of 110 meters, ”explains Uchida. Similar systems in Europe have been able to do all this for a long time, but due to the use of radar sensors, ultrasound or infrared, they are considerably more complex and expensive than Subaru's own development.

Unfortunately, there is a risk that future outback owners will quickly switch off the system that was very effective in the test due to the constant beeping. As soon as the camera eyes have recognized a car in front, they report this with a beep, which means almost continuously on a busy highway. The on-board warning job reacts hectically when the center line is touched or overrun by the wheels. On narrow country roads, where the middle marker is almost always streaked, the single beeping turns into the excited concert of a flock of birds. Here the technicians should lend a hand again and really only raise the alarm if the on-board computer thinks it recognizes a real danger. There are many examples of this on the market.

The visually sharpened, but still quite conservative styled Outback will still give the German governors much pleasure. Praiseworthy standard equipment at fair prices, the uncomplicated driving experience, the aforementioned excellent comfort and the good name of Subaru as a four-wheel drive specialist should attract more customers than the now retired pre-model succeeded. The prices start at 36.440 Euro (for the 2,5 liter petrol engine with 129 kW / 175 PS) and extend to 43.440 Euro for the tested diesel with full equipment.

Author: Peter Maahn / SP-X

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