Subaru Outback

We try crossover version of Estate-only Legacy

Overall Auto Express Rating

3.0 out of 5

The Outback is a worthy estate offering enough comfort and kit to rival an Audi costing £10,000 more. Its 4x4 chassis gives a secure on-road driving experience, while the raised ride height adds soft-road ability. The diesel engine strikes a decent balance of pace and frugality. Buyers won’t be disappointed – as long as they can live without admiring glances.

Here's a firm that’s going back to basics. Once famed for rally-bred performance cars such as the Impreza Turbo, Subaru’s more practical and economical models are a priority these days.

Take the new Legacy, for example. The firm has decided not to bring the saloon version to the UK, making the line-up Tourer estate-only. And, at the top of the range is a model that goes back to Subaru’s utilitarian roots – the Outback. We see if the jacked-up, 4WD model is a cut-price Audi A4 Allroad rival.

Unfortunately, the swooping headlights and fresh grille aren’t enough to give it a distinct identity, while the matt finish to the lower bumper sections only hints at its off-road potential.

Inside, the vast cabin is well built, and there are comfortable leather seats. However, the dashboard has quirky faux-backlit dials, which won’t appeal to everyone. There are too many scratchy, dull plastics, too, while the electronic parking brake is slow to operate and can’t always decide when to disengage.

On the road things improve, as the long travel suspension gives a relaxed ride, and acceleration is decent from the smooth engine. With all-wheel drive, the Subaru is capable on loose, muddy surfaces as well. 

 * Rival: Skoda Octavia Scout As a practical 4x4 estate, the Octavia Scout is a winner. Priced at a competitive £20,530, it’s huge, well built and has a punchy 2.0-litre turbodiesel.

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