News of the week:
· The 84th Geneva Motorshow has kicked off in Switzerland. Runs from 06-16 March 2014.
· First held in 1905 but skipped a couple of years during the World Wars.
· Attracts around 700 000 visitors annually.
· Widely regarded as the leading automotive show in Europe and showcases the latest production cars and concept vehicles from various manufacturers. Spotlight on many exotic models in development as well.
· Some of the key cars on display and which we can expect in South Africa include the all-new Audi TT, the Citroen C1/Peugeot 108/ Toyota Aygo city cars, the facelifted Ford Focus, the highly anticipated Honda Civic Type-R, Lamborghini Huracan, Mercedes-Benz S-Class Coupe, Alfa 4C Coupe and, Subaru WRX STI, among others.
Road test: Subaru Outback Diesel CVT
Subaru’s Outback Diesel delivers 900km a single tank, and still manages to remain a well-priced vehicle. Thegandra Naidoo reports.
So, the kids are now teenagers, the baby car seat has gone into storage, the family Labrador is no longer a pup, and your wife’s complaining that your Subaru Impreza WRX’s monthly fuel bill is putting a dent on your savings! Therefore, you’ve decided to part with your Impreza and purchase a car that is competitively priced, offers exceptional fuel economy and comes equipped with plenty of creature comforts.
The problem is; you’re unlikely to ever find a car with all of the abovementioned qualities. Well, not until recently. Subaru’s Outback Diesel is one of those cars that offers all the above. I’m not saying this because I’m a Subaru enthusiast. Rather, my hypothesis is based on first-hand experience whilst behind the wheel of the Outback Diesel.
The Outback Diesel isn’t all that new, it’s been on sale in various international markets for some time now. Locally, the Outback Diesel went on sale about a year ago and, while sales figures are still relatively low, Subaru is hoping that local buyers will soon forgo the German models, in favour of rival Japanese models.
The world’s only turbocharged boxer engine
Subaru boasts that the Outback features the only turbocharged diesel boxer engine in the world. The gutsy 2.0L boxer engine produces 110kW and 350Nm, which is pretty much on par with its rival, the Audi A4 allroad Quattro 2.0TDI. During my test period, I found that the turbo provides boost from just over 1 800rpm, and when driven correctly, there’s hardly any hint of turbo lag. Power is transferred to the symmetrical all-wheel drive system via a Lineartronic CVT gearbox
Gear changes are smooth and it doesn’t feel, or have the high-pitched whine of a CVT box. Rather, this CVT’s main function is to improve fuel economy. Once out on the open road, the Outback Diesel is quick to prove just how strong and capable it is. Torque is seamless, always ready, and impressively strong. It conquers most hillclimbs with aplomb and without needing to gear down, and when it comes to overtaking, the Outback Diesel does it effortlessly.
The Outback Diesel has the added advantage of AWD grip, hence there’s little tyre screeching when cornering at high speed. It’s a stationwagon, yet it still displays its sporty and dynamic racing heritage – not bad when you consider that it has a 213mm ride height.
But, perhaps, the best indicator of the Outback Diesel’s achievements are to be found in the fuel economy gains achieved from this impressive engine. During our test period, I managed to achieve 900km as a combined cycle from the 65-litre fuel tank. The trip monitor displayed an average fuel consumption of 7.2-litres/100km, which is remarkable considering the effort it takes to haul the 1.5 ton shell and the all-wheel-drive system.
Looks don’t matter
Admittedly, from the outside, the Outback Diesel isn’t eye-catching. It’s a stationwagon that comes standard with 17” alloy wheels and a full-size spare, a massive sunroof, roof rails, and HID xenon headlights. But form follows function and it’s quite apt when you get behind the wheel of the Outback Diesel.
What’s it like on the inside?
The ride is comfortable and cabin noise is well-suppressed. The only gripe that I had was a hint of wind noise generated from the large wing mirrors. The Outback Diesel’s interior is well-equipped, especially on our test model. The leather-clad seating is comfortable, though not altogether supportive, and is electrically adjustable in all the usual directions.
An impressive feature list sees Outback Diesel fitted with cruise control, dual-zone climate control, radio/CD combo with USB connectivity, all-round electric windows and mirrors, auto headlamps and remote central locking
It has ample storage space with its large centre console bin, and deep door pockets to store CDs, wallets and other personal items. Interestingly, I was able to load three adults on the back seats and they had no issues with their head- and legroom. The boot is also big enough to throw in a month’s groceries. With rear seats folded away, the rear spares expands from 490-litres to a cavernous 1690-litres of space – perfect for loading a bicycle or two!
Subaru is well-known brand for safety too. The Outback comes equipped with plenty of electronic driving aids including ABS brakes with EBD and traction control. It’s equipped with seven airbags and scores highly in various NCAP and safety rating tests.
The Outback Diesel doesn’t offer the stonking performance of its siblings, the Impreza WRX and STI, but, if you’re up for a stationwagon with decent fuel economy, then look no further. The Outback Diesel is a great drive, an impressive package, and with pricing at R469 000, it is truly great value for money. The Outback Diesel includes a 3year/60 000km service plan as standard.
It’s significantly cheaper than its key competitor, the Audi A4 allroad Quattro 2.0TDI, which is priced from R489 000.You get a lot of standard kit in the Outback Diesel which you wouldn’t necessarily get in the Audi.
Should you need to haul a little extra, the Outback Diesel has a 1.7 ton braked towing capacity – a weight I’d imagine would be no drama for this impressive engine. It recently scooped the title as the TOWCAR OF THE YEAR by CAR Magazine as well.
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