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Subaru Outback

Mk5 Outback

1 Sep 2009

SUBARU’S original modern crossover scored the same physical, technical, efficiency, safety and refinement gains as the Mk5 Liberty range that begat it did in September 2009.

The Mk4 Outback employs the revised 2.5-litre horizontally opposed four-cylinder ‘boxer’ engine as its sister car, as well as the 3.0R-usurping 3.6-litre boxer six-cylinder 3.6R unit from the larger Tribeca SUV.

But the really big news is reserved for the four-cylinder powerplant, as it gains an all-new stepless CVT transmission called Lineartronic, replacing the outmoded four-speed automatic gearbox and serves as an option above the redesigned six-speed manual that usurps the old five-speed manual unit.

The upshot is an 11.6 per cent carbon dioxide emissions improvement for the single-overhead-cam normally aspirated horizontally opposed four-cylinder petrol engine.

A more efficient operator, the 2.5i releases 123kW of power at 5600rpm and 229Nm of torque at 4000rpm – representing a 4kW drop and a 2Nm increase over the old Mk3 Outback 2.5i.

Meanwhile, the 3.6R – delivering 191kW at 5600rpm and 350Nm at 4400rpm – sees an 8.7 per cent drop in CO2 emissions.

Like the latest turbocharged Liberty 2.5i GT – it inherits the Subaru Intelligent Drive (SI-Drive) system, delivering a trio of driving experience choices in the same car.

Subaru says SI-Drive can “…optimise fuel efficiency and ride comfort in stop-start city traffic, produce a lively response in flowing freeway or town traffic, or a rapid sporty drive on the open road” – all via a knob to the left of the driver.

The Outback 3.6R continues to employ the old five-speed automatic gearbox.

On the safety front, a driver’s knee airbag is part of the Outback’s seven-airbag protection system, helping it to achieve a five-star ANCAP crash-test rating.

Aiding this feat is a cabin that has been strengthened in key areas, as well as an engine cradle that folds to better-absorb impact energy, while an energy absorbing steel bonnet area plays a big part in the Outback and Liberty’s competitive three-star pedestrian ANCAP result.

Adding to strength and safety as well as refinement and practicality is the abolition of Subaru’s one-time trademark frameless door-glass construction, for conventional sash-frame glass.

Also to that end, the engineers have installed a new single-cradle engine bay – with the motor mounted to it – that is also said to benefit ride and stability properties.

Nevertheless, the new car’s chassis is actually lighter than before despite this as well as the increased measurements of the all-new platform.

Outback prototypes were sent (where else!) to Australia for testing and retuning – mainly to the suspension and involving the damper and spring rates as well as anti-roll bar size – to make the latest Subarus better suited to local buyer taste.

The front suspension uses a MacPherson strut-type construction that’s mounted to the cradle, while a new compact double-wishbone rear suspension set-up similar to that found on the latest Impreza small car is mounted to the sub-frame.

Besides a higher ride height – up 63mm to 213mm (itself a 13mm rise compared to the previous model), the Mk4 Outback differs from its Liberty stablemate with its self-levelling rear suspension system.

A electronic park brake has been incorporated, replacing the old mechanical item. It is automatically released when the driver moves off the line. There is also a Hill Holder System that kicks in if the Outback is stopped on a hill with a gradient of over five per cent.

The long-awaited 2.0D diesel finally arrived in late 2009.

Calling it the world’s first boxer diesel, Subaru says it expects rural buyers to be the most loyal customers, particularly as there is no automatic gearbox.

Three Outback diesel models are offered in Oz – 2.0D, 2.0D Premium and 2.0D Premium SatNav, with each costing $2500 more than the 2.5i four-cylinder petrol-powered equivalent.

Meeting upcoming Euro V emissions standards now thanks partly to the common rail direct injection, variable vane turbo and particulate filter technology fitted, the Outback’s 2.0D is actually the second-generation version, with cleaner outputs compared to the earlier iteration introduced last year on the last of the previous-generation Liberty and Outback. Australia’s 2.0D remains a Euro IV unit, though.

A 1998cc 2.0-litre twin cam boxer four-cylinder turbo-diesel unit, it delivers 110kW of power at 3600rpm and 350Nm of torque from 1800 to 2400rpm. 300Nm is on offer from 1600rpm.

The official combined fuel consumption average is 6.4 litres per 100 kilometres, for a potential range of about 1100km from the 65L tank, while the carbon dioxide emissions rating is 160 grams/km.

The diesel Outback’s urban and extra urban results are 7.7L/100km (202g/km) and 5.6L/100km (149g/km) respectively.

Top speed for overseas versions of the 2.0D is 195km/h, while the 0-100km/h-sprint time takes 9.7 seconds – that’s 0.1s slower than the 2.5i petrol manual but 0.7s sprightlier than the 2.5i petrol CVT.

As with all other 2010 Outback models, the 2.0D comes with an ‘ECO’ gauge and gear shift up/down indicator to assist with more efficient driving habits.

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