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Subaru Outback deserves space in your garage


IT�S NICE to be pleasantly surprised by a product that was initially thought of as inferior. Take Mango airlines as a perfect example. I used to think of these budget airlines as suckier versions of SAA and British Airways.

After my first-ever Mango flight last week, I’ve had to rethink my definition of budget flying. Yes, the space is still restricted, but for one two-hour flight to Cape Town, it doesn’t really matter that much. The staff is also very friendly, softly moving your elbow out of the way rather than crashing into it with the snack cart. Best of all though is the on-board Wi-Fi. What a marvellous idea and one the so-cladded ‘exclusive’ airlines should start thinking of.

The above preconceived notions are applicable in the motoring world as well. A customer with around R500 000 to spend will inevitably end up in a German saloon car, and why not? German cars sell well because they’re always at the top of their game. That doesn’t mean the rest of the cars in the segment are inferior, which is why it’s so important to shop around and drive everything in the segment before buying.

Subaru knows this, which is why it’s currently running radio ads with Scooby owners telling the listener why they love their cars so much. So far I’ve only heard one, where the CEO of some company urges the rest of us to drive a Subaru to see what it’s all about.

I concur with that assessment. I think Subaru will sell a lot more cars if people made an effort to test drive its cars. The new Legacy Outback diesel is a prime example of a brilliant car that deserves to show up on your shopping radar.

This car pleasantly surprised me by not being as awful as I thought it would be. I love Subaru, as any regular reader would know, but the idea of a boxer diesel engine mated to a CVT gearbox sounded as appealing as grating my face on the sidewalk.
Subaru has mastered the CVT gearbox, though. I’m not fond of these gearboxes for various reasons, none of which reared their ugly heads while testing this car.

A lot of it is down to the engine. It’s a silky smooth turbocharged unit that delivers 110kW and an impressive 350Nm of torque. It feels more powerful than the figures suggest and is more than brisk enough for inner-city driving. A claimed fuel consumption figure of 6.5 litres/100km gives it a theoretical cruising range of around 1 000km, which means a lot to those of us who hate disrupting a great road trip for fuel.

This is definitely the perfect car for people who prefer driving rather than flying to their holiday destination, as it was obviously built around the needs of the modern family unit. It can easily fit five people in supreme comfort, while having enough power in reserve to tow whatever lifestyle accessory they fancy.

A great deal of time has also been spent making it as safe as humanly possible. I’m sure all the family men out there will appreciate this frequently overlooked, yet highly important attribute.

As far as complaints go, there’s not much to write about. I wish the centre console was a bit more interesting, but it’s a personal issue. It’s a joy to use, ergonomically speaking, and has a genuine quality feel, but I want it to mimic that same robust and muscular design found on the exterior.

The Subaru Legacy Outback is often overlooked because it is perhaps seen as an inferior product to the obvious choices in the segment. We assume it won’t be as enjoyable as a German product, which is a huge mistake.

One should refrain from making snap judgements, as it keeps us from buying  products that might be better suited to our needs than a competitor product.  

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