Subaru Outback Driving, Engines & Performance | Top Gear
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Saturday 2nd December
Car Review

Subaru Outback review

£32,595 - £38,095
Published: 01 Nov 2023


What is it like to drive?

Let’s start with the engine, shall we? There’s no longer a diesel-powered Outback available in the UK, so as mentioned the 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol boxer is your only option. 

It’s not the most refined engine and has quite the grumble on start-up, but it does feel strong and perhaps a little brawnier than the 167bhp and 186lb ft of torque headline figures would suggest. The 0-62mph sprint is more like an amble though, taking a full 10.2 seconds. 

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How’s that CVT gearbox?

Hmm, yes, there’s no doubt that the CVT does let the side down slightly. It means the rough-sounding engine is often worked quite hard for a relative lack of acceleration, and the wheel-mounted paddles and ‘manual’ mode that are supposed to add steps into the transmission don’t seem to have much effect. Overtaking in the Outback isn’t the most pleasant experience. 

What else do I need to know?

Whereas the gearbox might be a bit of a sticking point, the Outback’s ride quality and suspension setup is excellent. The raised ride height and tall sidewall tyres are really there to help the Subaru’s off-road ability, but they also make for an extremely comfortable car on the road. Surprising lack of roll through corners too.

There’s decent brake feel, and the steering has enough about it to make the Outback an enjoyable – if rather old-school – thing to drive on the road. It’s no WRX STI, but it’s good enough for a lofty estate and much more satisfying to drive than a lardy SUV. Remember, this thing only weighs around 1,640kg.  

Is it efficient? 

Ah, slight issue here. Subaru claims 33mpg and 193g/km of CO2 emissions for the petrol-powered Outback, but in our time with the car we managed… 18mpg. Not great. 

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What about off-road driving? 

The Outback really is excellent at that. There’s huge amounts of grip and Snow/Dirt and Deep Snow/Mud drive modes. This thing would get you further down a ruined farm track than most modern SUVs.

Highlights from the range

the fastest

2.5i Touring 5dr Lineartronic
  • 0-6210.2s
  • CO2
  • BHP166.3
  • MPG
  • Price£38,095

the cheapest

2.5i Limited 5dr Lineartronic
  • 0-6210.2s
  • CO2
  • BHP166.3
  • MPG
  • Price£32,595
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