The first thing that most people will remark on when they see the 2010 Subaru Outback is that it is definitely one of the best-looking Subarus ever designed. The prominent grille adds a purposeful air, enhanced by the sharp, sloping headlights.
Much of the Outback is based on the Legacy, but there are a few differences too. A bumper that has been reshaped for better approach angles, and standard roof rails, point towards the Outback’s off-road abilities.
The rear is neat, while the bumper has again been remodelled, this time for a better departure angle.
The 2010 Outback stands even higher than before and now there’s 213mm of ground clearance – a figure that will put a number of SUVs to shame. Protective mouldings (now body-coloured) guard the wheel arches of the vehicle against scrapes and bumps, while the sills are protected by purposeful black cladding.
The exterior dimensions have increased, and this is reflected in the increased space on the interior. Legroom and headroom has increased in the front and the rear, and the perceived amount of space has also improved considerably. The interior also benefits from better quality materials, and a more “premium” feel.
Subarus, though, are famous for more mechanical things, namely their Boxer engines and Symmetrical All Wheel Drive. Under the bonnet is the latest evolution of the 2,5-litre Boxer engine, producing 123 kW at 5 600 r/min and 229 Nm at a relatively low 4 000 r/min. Lighter pistons, different camshaft lift and timing characteristics, and altered porting are some of the internal changes which have been made to the 2,5-litre engine.
The Outback uses the same McPherson strut-type front suspension/double wishbone rear suspension as the Legacy sedan, but with spring rates and travel tuned to take into account the different ride height.
There is big news in the transmission department, where the Outback is now available with either a six-speed manual gearbox, or a Lineartronic CVT transmission.
The manual version no longer comes with a low-range transfer case, but Subaru assure us that the extra gear makes up for this.
The CVT gearbox makes use of a chain instead of a belt, allowing more torque and lower friction. The CVT box keeps the engine operating at its most efficient, ensuring an optimum balance between torque and engine revolutions. A “manual” mode is also available, offering six “gears”, and paddles on the steering wheel allow for easy gear selection.
The top speed of the manual Outback is 201 km/h, while the CVT is good for 198 km/h. Acceleration from 0-100 km/h is claimed to be 9,6 seconds and 10,4 seconds for the manual and CVT respectively, while both models claim fuel consumption figures of 9,1 l/100km in mixed driving conditions.
Standard comfort and convenience equipment across the Outback range is generous and includes a radio/six-CD in dash shuttle with six speakers, cruise control and sound system satellite controls on the leather-rimmed steering wheel, electric windows (one touch up/down for the driver), electrically-adjusted driver’s seat with two memory functions (including electric lumbar adjustment), electrically-adjustable/folding exterior mirrors, remote central locking with separate boot release on the key fob, leather upholstery, electric sunroof, electric parking brake, climate control with left/right synchronisation function and rear vents, and multi-function driving computer.
The list of safety equipment is also impressive: seven airbags (including a driver’s knee-bag – a first for Subaru), front seatbelts with pre-tensioners and load limiters, child seat anchor points, ABS/EBD/BAS, Vehicle Dynamics Control, front foglights and Hill Start Assist. These and other features enabled the Outback’ to achieve a five-star overall rating in the European New Car Assessment Programme (ENCAP).
The Subaru Outback is a vehicle that will appeal to the outdoor enthusiast who appreciates sporty driving dynamics, but who might want to venture onto dirt roads, and even off of them, on the odd occasion. The extra space, much-improved looks, impressive ground clearance and new gearboxes all add up to an impressive vehicle that should compete well in its softroader segment.
Subaru Outback 2.5i
Engine: 2457cc, horizontally-opposed, 4-cylinder, 16-valve
Power: 123 kW @ 5600 r/min
Torque: 229 Nm @ 4000 r/min
Gearbox: 6-speed manual/6-speed CVT with manual function
4×4 system: Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive
Driving aids: ABS/EBD/BAS, Hill Start Assist, Vehicle Dynamics Control
Ground clearance: 213mm
Fuel capacity: 65 litres
Average consumption on test: 9,1 litres/100km
Range per tank: About 715km
Price: Outback 2.5i Manual R345 000
Outback 2.5i CVT R358 000
Includes a 3-year/63 000km maintenance plan