The Subaru Outback

More than just a family car

The Subaru Outback is neither a family car nor a business sedan, but when you find yourself behind the wheel of one, you can’t help but think that it’s both. We recently tested the Outback on a trip down to Durban on the north coast. Absolutely nothing compromised our comfort as passengers and, on a long journey, only safety is more important than this.

As we loaded up the boot, what impressed most was how much space there was – our entire luggage, including the golf clubs – didn’t make a dent in the massive boot space. You have peace of mind when travelling with your family in the Outback as everything has been thought of:  the car has a driver and passenger airbag, side and rear head airbags, four-wheel ABS braking delivered from four-wheel disc brakes... Not to mention its five-star overall rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in America. Everything is controlled by the traction control and regardless of the conditions under-tyre, you feel like you’re the master of your wheels.

All these safety elements would mean very little if the car didn’t drive well. Normally it is hard to contain the ruggedness of a Subaru, but the Outback seems to have a tamed sophistication to the way it moves. This may seem “un-Subaru-like”, but in a world where traffic is more prevalent than an open road, having a smooth and easy drive is so much more appealing. The 2.5-litre petrol engine is not completely controlled, and every now and then it does bite, but this is no caged lion. The automatic gearbox did sometimes struggle to get the right gear on hills or during a quick take-over, but with a Lineartronic CVT gearbox that allowed you to select your own gear, we were able to get this behemoth of a car in and out of traffic like a sports hatch.

“Normally it is hard to contain the ruggedness of a Subaru, but the Outback seems to have a tamed sophistication to the way it moves.”

The interior is all leather, with everything you want just a single button push away. The sound system is world-class and takes USB, MP3s and CDs. The reverse camera makes squeezing this very long car into tight parking spaces a breeze.

The Outback will set you back a cool R419 000, but you get a lot of bang for your buck. With its business in the front and party at the back, we enjoyed our drive in the Outback. Subaru says, “Drive one and you’ll understand”, and we couldn’t agree more.