The all-new sixth generation Subaru Outback has launched in Australia, which the brand says will play a major part in its sales recovery in the local market.
Subaru sales fell more than 20 per cent in 2020, with the COVID pandemic coming after an already-troublesome period where the brand had to contend with everything from plant closures to typhoons to stinkbugs (seriously).
But a new Outback will certainly help: more than 144,000 have been sold in Australia since arriving in 1996.
It’s been a long time coming, as it has been available in the US for roughly 18 months already.
Subaru says this is due to Australian models being built in Japan rather than the States, and we are still getting the first right-hand-drive models being made.
As previously reported in WestWHEELS, the new Outback will have a simplified line-up with three variants and a single, naturally aspirated four-cylinder petrol engine.
Entry has risen $2550, with the base variant starting at $39,990 plus on-roads.
Standard gear includes a vertical, tablet-like 11.6-inch infotainment screen and big focus on safety.
The brand’s latest Eyesight Driver Assist system adds lane centring function, autonomous emergency steering, reverse cross traffic alert with auto braking, emergency lane-keep assist, speed sign recognition with intelligent speed limiter, lane departure warning and prevention, and autonomous intersection collision braking — the latter now essential for a five-star ANCAP crash rating.
An additional $4500 gets buyers into the Outback Sport, which adds water repellent sports seat trim, heated front and rear outboard seats, front and side view monitors, black exterior highlights, a hands-free powered tailgate with memory height function, roof rails with green highlights, built in sat nav and a dark metallic finish for the alloy wheels.
The top-spec Touring is an extra $3300 above the Sport and gets a Harman Kardon stereo, Nappa leather accented seat trim, electric sunroof, heated steering wheel, silver roof rails with integrated stowable crossbars and gloss finished alloy wheels.
Despite the additions and upgrades, there is still no seven-seat Subaru in Australia.
The Outback isn’t made with seven seats as the brand already has the Ascent in the US.
However, much to Subaru Australia’s chagrin, the Ascent is made in Indiana in left hand drive only, while the Outback and Forester are unable to be re-engineered to fit the extra pews.
It’s also difficult to ignore the absence of a diesel, turbo petrol or hybrid option under the bonnet.
Subaru has stopped making diesel vehicles altogether and its local arm says diesel sales were slumping anyway.
However Subaru Australia would like the 2.4-litre turbo petrol offered in the US but the factory has not yet made it available here.
Though there’s also no hybrid option, Subaru’s Global Platform architecture does allow for additional powertrains to be added at a later date.
Subaru Australia pointed out the Forester and Impreza also launched with only a single engine option with success, before hybrid power was added last year.
Despite the engine talk, it’s worth noting the new model’s 2000kg tow rating is the most ever on an Outback, including six-cylinder models from years past.
And Subaru says the Outback remains a unique option in the large SUV segment, being a well rounded combination of comfortable family hauler and capable off-roader — and the new version has improved both sides of its personality.
The new architecture offers sportier handling thanks to being 70 per cent stiffer and offering a lower centre of gravity, while the two X-Mode off-road settings and improved ground clearance makes it more adept in tough situations.
And all the talk of tech upgrades isn’t hot air: there are some seriously innovative features on offer.
The hands-free electric tailgate only requires an elbow or hand to be held in front of the Subaru logo at the rear to open, and the cargo blind also only requires a slight tap for it to retract.
Inside, the dual zone climate controls can be adjusted by voice control.
WestWHEELS is reviewing the new Outback in the coming weeks, so stay tuned to find out how the new Outback performs.
2021 SUBARU OUTBACK AUSTRALIAN SPECIFICATIONS
- Variants Outback; Sport; Touring
- Prices $39,990; $44,490; $47,790
- Engine 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol
- Output 138kW/245Nm
- Transmission CVT automatic, AWD
- Fuel economy 7.3L/100km