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Subaru Southern Africa sales have remained resilient throughout the tough economic climate of 2017, posting YOY sales growth of 10% in a market that barely grew by 1.8%. This resilience is largely due to a strong and loyal customer base who place their trust in Subaru over and over again.

Set to continue this growth for the brand in 2018, the updated Subaru Outback has made its debut here in South Africa.

Ashley Lazarus, Marketing Manager of Subaru in South Africa explains the positioning and intention of the Outback. “When it was first introduced in 1994, the Outback was one of the first cars to be equipped with All-Wheel drive, deeming it the original cross-over, and has since remained true to its core as an authentic cross-over. Globally, the Subaru Outback represents the spirit of adventure for which the brand is known; a go-anywhere capability, with a premium interior and technology to complement any lifestyle. Few vehicles in the segment can match it’s 512L cargo space, extended to 1801L with seats folded down. It’s a no-compromise vehicle to meet the needs of customers who demand all-round excellence and prefer car-like driving dynamics over that of an SUV.”

Exterior Design enhancements: More elegant yet more Rugged.

The most significant design updates appear at the front of the Outback with a revised bumper design that has sharper edges and less accentuated fog lamp surrounds. Larger front cladding now enhances protection from the onslaught of mud and stones especially for when the vehicle is driven off road, something that Outback owners tend to do a lot of the time.

The Subaru signature hexagonal grille still features three blades but now only the first blade is finished in chrome while the two below are now finished in a matte black coat. The look is more rugged, yet focuses the eye on the Subaru badge and gives the front a more progressive stance. Also incorporated within the front grille, is a camera lens for the new Front View Monitor.

Small revisions on the signature ‘Hawkeye/C-shaped’ LED headlights lead the eye down the flanks of the Outback where new mirror housings have been designed with integrated LED turn signals as well as a new side view camera for negotiating curbs and steep drops. Outback also features new 18″ wheel designs in a two-tone contrast of high gloss silver and black inlays. Overall, the design is more elegant, yet remains true to the Outback essence leaving no doubt about its all-terrain appeal and intentions.

Subaru has also added two new colours to the Outback range, namely Crimson Red Pearl and Wilderness Green Metallic. 

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Powerfully and Practically Prepared

The engines on the two Subaru Outback variants in South Africa remain unchanged. The Outback 2.5i-S ES is powered by the FB25 2 498cc, four-cylinder, Boxer petrol engine, with 16 valves, twin camshafts per bank and variable valve timing. The engine delivers 129 kW at 5,800 rpm and 235 Nm at 4,000 rpm.

The flagship model Outback 3.6R-S ES employs the EZ36 3 630cc six-cylinder BOXER engine, which features four valves per cylinder, double overhead camshafts and variable ignition timing. It’s a powerful motor that produces 191 kW at 6,000 rpm and 350 Nm at 4,400 rpm, sustaining 90% of its peak torque between 2,000 – 6,000 rpm. The result of this is an exceptionally responsive engine no matter the speed.

Engines are smartly efficient too.  The 2.5i-S ES features Active grille shutters that assist in keeping the Outback operating at an optimal level and reducing fuel consumption. Figures for the 2.5i-S ES and the 3.6R-S ES are 7,7l/100km and 9,9l/100km respectively.  Both engines are mated with Subaru’s standard Lineartronic CVT (continuously variable transmission) with a seven-speed manual mode and paddle shift controls behind the steering wheel. The CVT now offers an even smoother response thanks to a reworked ECU.

As with all Subaru’s sold in South Africa, the Subaru Outback combines its 213mm ground clearance, the Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive (AWD) and Active Torque Vectoring systems for a safer, more agile and more capable driving experience on varied terrain. Using an electronically-controlled continuously variable transfer clutch, torque is distributed to where it is needed most, depending on traction and power to each wheel.

When the terrain gets really challenging, the Outback’s X-Mode feature further optimizes engine output and improves the all-wheel drive management and enhances the stability system (VDC) to reduce wheel spin for maximum traction and control.  When X-Mode is selected, Hill Descent Control is also activated and uses engine braking to help maintain a constant vehicle speed when traveling downhill.

It wouldn’t be an Outback if it wasn’t a class-leader in practicality. The Subaru Outback is equipped to tackle any adventure with numerous features in this regard including convenient retractable crossbars for loading anything and everything from roof carriers, skis, kayaks and bikes, without the need for additional cross-bars.

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A more focused driving experience and On-road Comfort

The Subaru Outback is known for its refinement and a quality driving experience in superb comfort. For the MY2018 models, the level of comfort has been taken up another level. NVH levels have been significantly improved: New sound-insulating glass has been used for the front side windows as well as thicker insulation on the rear wheel wells results in a quieter cabin with less wind noise intrusion. Unseen but definitely felt by the occupants, the air-conditioning system has also been improved to distribute air to the cabin faster and more evenly.

The new Outback has also had some improvements to the overall driver feel: the suspension dampers have been tweaked, as has the electric power steering feel and braking feel. Subaru engineers have created a more direct responsiveness for a smoother and more linear driving experience.

Significant Technology and Interior Upgrades

The interior of the new Subaru Outback has received a significant aesthetic makeover with a fresher, more contemporary cabin layout. The expansive dashboard is awash with new panel inserts in piano black and silver surround contrasts. This detail is carried from the instrument binnacle to the centre stack and front air vents all the way to the passenger side. The steering wheel has been updated with the new Subaru leather wheel with new multi-function controls for the infotainment system, EyeSight system as well as the on-board multi-function vehicle display screens. These changes are more appealing to the eye and an improvement on ergonomics and intuitive ease of use of the cabin controls.

The most noticeable difference to the interior design, is the all-new 7″ Infotainment system. The system is carried through to the Outback from the all-new Impreza and XV models that were launched in South Africa in 2017. Featuring a touch-sensitive panel, the screen is the key to all entertainment, connectivity and Satnav functionality. The system is faster, more intuitive and now offers Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone connectivity for a safer driving experience. The voice-controlled system now uses two microphones and technology by Nuance (maker of Dragon Dictation apps for computers and other devices) for a significantly improved interaction with voice calls, Apple Siri or OK Google voice commands. Sound quality and enjoyment is thanks to an eleven-speaker system and amplifier by Harman Kardon.

Improving the connectedness of passengers, two additional USB ports have been added to the back of the centre console for use by the rear seat occupants, and these are now 2.1Amp ports compatible to charge not just smartphones but tablets too.

Located just underneath the Infotainment system, the new climate control panel has also been updated with new soft touch materials on the control dials, new controls and new graphics.

It’s an altogether more premium and more intuitive system offered on both Subaru Outback variants in South Africa.

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Subaru South Africa launched the EyeSight Driver Assist system in 2017 and its proven to be a significant buying point of customers in South Africa, as it has been globally. And now, EyeSightis being offered on both 2018 Subaru Outback variants. EyeSight is an award-winning safety system that employs stereo cameras to view the front of the vehicle and scan ahead for any obstructions or obstacles. The system features include Adaptive Cruise Control, Pre-Collision Braking, Pre-Collision Throttle Management, and Vehicle Lane Departure and Sway Warning. Also standard on the Subaru Outback is Blind Spot Detection and Rear Cross Traffic Alert.

Also new to the Outback is Steering Responsive Headlamps (SRH), and Automatic Locking Doors which are activated from 20 km/h. To ensure that occupants are not stuck in an emergency situation, the system is designed to unlock the doors when a collision occurs and the airbags have been deployed.

The 2018 Subaru Outback remains an elegant and premium offering, now with significant improvements to all-round comfort, technology and of course, safety. Many new engineering and design details throughout the 2018 Outback enhance the driving experience and the vehicle’s versatility.

The MY2018 Subaru Outback is now available for purchase through Subaru’s expanding, nationwide dealer network.

  • Pricing for the 2.5i-S ES is R579 000 and comes with a three year or 75,000 km full Maintenance Plan and a five year or 150 000 km Warranty.
  • Pricing on the flagship 3.6R-S ES is R649 000 and comes with a three year or 75,000 km full Maintenance Plan and a five year or 150 000 km Warranty.

The Maintenance plans are extendable up to five years or 150,000 kms at time of purchase.

In other motoring related news, VW recently launched the new Polo Vivo.

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