Didn’t see that coming – it’s simply Suba
There were the early Leone wagons, one of the first crossover or SUV machines, with all-wheel drive for tough tracks and beaches.
There have been the dirt-chewing, rally-winning WRX sedans and hatchbacks and the family-friendly Subaru Forester and Outback in company with the Impreza and SVX.
Since the 1990s, all Subarus, aside from the low-slung BRZ coupe, have been all-wheel drive.
This, plus the Subaru’s flat, boxer engines, should mean a better-balanced machine with the centre of gravity lower.
There is a more symmetrical driveline and all-wheel grip adds handling control, on good roads and bad. All this engineering, plus new models with swags of fresh technology, saw Subaru sales across Australia lift 7.6 per cent last year to 43,600 machines. Among showroom heroes in 2015, was the all-new, bigger and sleeker Liberty Outback wagon. The Outback these days has taken a price cut and starts out at a recommended $35,990.
In 2016, this new version also looks better, boasts more cabin space and better on-road handling tuned for Australian conditions and driving tastes.
Now Subaru’s EyeSight system is included on every auto Outback and the Vision Assist pack added to Premium and 3.6R versions.
EyeSight includes adaptive cruise control (so a driver doesn’t run up the back of a car in front), pre-collision braking, pre-collision braking assist and pre-collision steering assist (monitors helping drivers to stop or minimise accidents), lane departure warning (sometimes annoying on country roads) and front vehicle start alert (waking up drivers when the car ahead moves off).
Subaru’s clever system can even interpret brake lights ahead and help the electronic devices keep the Japanese wagons out of trouble.
Vision Assist includes blind spot monitoring, lane change assist and rear cross assist which warns of vehicles coming across your stern when backing out of car spots in place like busy shopping centre car parks.
These two systems should add extra road safety and mean fewer bingles for Outback owners, adding to the Subaru’s good road manners, active safety dynamics and seven airbags.
Joining the all-new Outback this season is a revised Subaru Forester.
Smaller and boxier than its big brother, the Forester has a well-earned reputation as a competent tourer and rough road rider.
For 2016 there’s been style touches and suspension upgrades to this compact SUV. Among body changes are new front bumpers, grille and taillights.
Inside, it’s tidier and quieter than before with thicker door window glass and new sound deadening material.
Ride and handling dynamics are better again, with changes to spring rates and dampers plus rear suspension geometry tweaks. It sits a bit flatter and handling is more neutral than before. There remains the choice of petrol or diesel engines, manual or CVT auto (Constantly Variable Transmission) with Forester prices starting at $29,990 and running through to a decent $47,990. That seems a mighty leap but today many customers are on the hunt for all the bells and whistles.
From entry-level to top-of-the-tree, the Subaru Forester remains a mighty crossover machine - one for all manner of roads and tracks. It may not be the most stylish of SUVs in this class but it is one of the most honest and competent.