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Driven: Subaru drops prices for new-gen Outback

Out and about: The new Subaru Outback carries price reductions of up to $10,000, depending on the variant, when compared with the model it replaces.

Range-wide reductions for 2015 Subaru Outback priced from $35,490 plus ORCs

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Subaru logo16 Dec 2014

By DANIEL GARDNER

SUBARU'S fifth-generation Outback has touched down on Australian turf with a fresh equipment list, more frugal engines and price reductions of between $2000 and $10,000 across the range.

All variants now have a more approachable price-tag as Subaru prepares to take the fight to obvious Outback competitors such as the Volkswagen Passat Alltrack and forthcoming Skoda Octavia Scout in the niche segment.

While Subaru's high-riding Liberty-based mid-sizer only has a handful of direct competitors, the Japanese-built Outback will be shopped against more traditional-looking SUVs including the Kia Sorento and Hyundai Sante Fe, both of which the Subaru undercuts.

Earlier this year the Japanese car-maker launched its fourth-generation WRX performance sedan at a significantly shaved back starting price that undercut both the outgoing version and 1994 original, and the latest round of price squeezing will put the brand on yet more shopping lists.

As with the previous range, the new Outback will be available in a choice of two petrol engines or a diesel, with a 2.5-litre boxer four-cylinder under the bonnet of entry-level versions, a 3.6-litre horizontally opposed six powering the R variant, while a turbocharged 2.0-litre four-pot powers the diesel.

Base variants kick off with the six-speed manual 2.0-litre diesel at $35,490 before on-road costs – a $5000 drop over the outgoing model – or $37,490 with the CVT (continuously variable transmission), while kit-boosted Premium versions add $6000 to the asking price of both manual and auto oilers.

Petrol Outbacks are only available in automatic CVT trim, with 2.5-litre variants costing $35,990 in base guise or $41,490 for the more generously equipped 2.5 Premium.

Sitting at the top of the pack is the 3.6R which represents the high-performance offering of the Outback line-up with a 3.6-litre flat-six engine for $47,990.

The 2.5-litre boxer engine is normally aspirated and produces 129kW and 235Nm of torque and returns combined fuel consumption of 7.3 litres per 100km, representing an improvement of 0.7L/100km over the outgoing 2.5.

Six-cylinder variants have also been given a more frugal engine with the 191kW/350Nm 3.6-litre now using 9.9L/100km, compared with the 10.3L/100km of the previous 3.6R.

The 2.0-litre diesel engine also goes further on a tank with manual versions using 5.7L/100km and autos drinking 6.3L/100km – an improvement of 0.3L/100km for the manual and 0.2L/100km for the CVT.

As with all Subaru vehicles, except for the BRZ sportscar, all four wheels are driven by a permanent symmetrical all-wheel drive system with 60 per cent of torque sent to the front wheels until traction is compromised when the centre differential biases more to the rear wheels.

The combination of all-paw grip, Subaru's X-Mode drive settings and a 213mm ground clearance gives the Outback genuine off-road ability, the company says.

A dedicated torque map alters throttle sensitivity for optimum control during low-range crawling and negotiating rough roads, while a quarter more clutch locking pressure has improved traction.

Vehicle Dynamics Control (VDC) hill descent takes the work out of descending steep slopes on loose surfaces by taking over the steering wheel and engine braking automatically.

Subaru's SI-Drive mode switch allows the driver to flick between two pre-determined vehicle settings of the petrol variants. The 2.5 versions have Sports and Intelligent to chose from while 3.6R variants add an extra Sports Sharp choice.

In 'I' mode the smoothest and most economical driving is promoted, while 'S' mode alters the transmission behaviour and throttle response for more enthusiastic motoring and 'S#' uses maximum engine performance and response.

On the outside the new Outback has grown slightly compared with the outgoing version with length up by 25mm to 4815mm, width by 20mm to 1840mm and height by 25mm to 1675mm.

Those extra few millimeters have resulted in an interior space boost in almost all areas with front- and rear-seat space increased and 22 extra litres of boot volume at the back, but the 512 litre boot is expandable with 60/40 split rear seats.

Subaru deliberately kept exterior styling similar to the superseded Outback with the company previously stating “you should never mess with success”, but significant aerodynamic changes have reduced drag without upsetting the looks.

The 2.5L Outback gets a number of driver assistance features with cruise control, reversing camera, brake assistance, curtain airbags in addition to driver knee-bags and dual front and side bags, Isofix child seat anchors and all the usual ESC electronics.

Subaru says the new information and entertainment system is more intuitive to use with more smartphone like operation of the various systems, which includes Bluetooth connectivity, navigation, air-conditioning and telephone connections all accessed through the 6.2-inch touchscreen (7.0-inches in the Premium).

Entry level vehicles have a touch-sensitive panel for accessing functions, while Premium-spec cars have higher quality Harman Kardon sound system and Pandora app connectivity.

All variants have voice control for accessing the various vehicle functions hands-free.

The new Outback in petrol guise only also gets Subaru's EyeSight system which uses a stereo camera to monitor the area in front of the car. The technology allows functions such as brake light recognition, pre-collision steering assistance, pre-collision braking, lane-departure warning and active cruise control.

2.5 and 2.0 diesel variants feature rain-sensing wipers, automatic headlights, two-way adjustable steering column, leather steering wheel, folding and reclining rear seats, and a smattering of leather trims.

Entry level variants are distinguishable by a 17-inch diameter alloy wheel on oil-burning versions, and a larger 18-inch rim on the 2.5 variant.

Moving up to the Premium versions of both 2.0D and 2.5 brings extra kit including electric adjustable and heated leather front seats, sunroof, folding mirrors, keyless entry and start, gloss black interior trims and LED dipped beam headlights.

Top spec 3.6R variants get all of the above equipment plus a 12 speaker sound-system, silver roof rails and defining chrome-look sill decorations.

Subaru is holding a media launch of the Outback and Liberty twins in regional Victoria this week, with all information relating to the Liberty released on Wednesday morning.

Keep an eye on GoAuto on Wednesday for details on the Liberty and for our drive impressions.

Subaru Outback pricing*
2.5i (a)$35,990 (-$3000)
2.5i Premium (a)$41,490 (-$2000)
2.0D$35,490 (-$5500)
2.0D (a)$37,490 ($5500)
2.0D Premium$41,490 (-$2000)
2.0D Premium (a)$43,490 (-$2500)
3.6R (a)$47,990 (-$10,000)
*Excludes on-road costs.

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