Subaru marching to its own tune

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The updated 2018 Subaru Outback range. PHOTO: Subaru

"When they zig, we zag - it's just how we like to do things. It seems to work for us.''

This, during the media first-look at the 2018 update of the Subaru Kiwis love most, from the brand's New Zealand boss. Wal Dumper wasn't referring specifically to the Outback, it was more a generalised statement about how the brand operates internationally.

Yet the quote attaches easily enough to the biggest wagon Subaru sells here. Simply because it is more car-like in look than many sports utilities, this model certainly zags in its category.

At the moment, it's zagging nicely, achieving 44% of Subaru sales in 2017, with 1500 registrations.

Might that even increase now Subaru has made some significant enhancements - the first since its release three years ago - with no price alternation?

Some of the change is visual - new lights and the like - and there's a teensy bit of mechanical tweaking, but the main impetus has been to implement technologies and safety assists that went into the Impreza and XV over the past year. EyeSight, in its third-generation guise, adds lane-keep assist.

Premium variants also get front-view and side-view cameras and take steering-responsive headlights with adaptive beam functionality, so they'll automatically dip and activate high beam to avoid dazzling oncoming traffic.

The addition of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto on an improved touchscreen audio unit also impresses. Revisions which also apply to the Legacy sedan are timely. Dumper reckons SUVs and one-tonne utes will increase in popularity this year.

SNZ's soft-road push this year will be bolstered by the arrival, in July, of the new- generation Forester, the last Subaru to shift to the new-era platform. Yet Outback, which has reverted to its four- and six-cylinder petrol engines matched with Lineartronic CVT, is set to keep command.

Subaru marching to its own tune
At a Glance
Subaru Outback

Prices: $44,990 2.5 Sport, $49,990 2.5 Premium,
$59,990 3.6 Premium.
Engines: 2498cc four-cylinder DOHC petrol,
maximum power 129kW@5800rpm,
maximum torque 235Nm@4000rpm;
3630cc six-cylinder DOHC petrol,
maximum power 191kW@6000rpm,
maximum torque 350Nm@4400rpm.


Transmission: Seven-step constantly variable.
Brakes and stability systems: Front and rear disc brakes,
Safety rating: ANCAP five-star.
Wheels and tyres: Alloy wheels, 225/60 R18.
Fuel and economy: 7.3 (2.5-engine)/9.9 (3.6-engine)
litres per 100km, capacity 60 litres.
Emissions: 166/230g of CO2 per km.
Dimensions (mm): Length 4820, width 1840,
height 1675.