I test many cars week on week – and I am constantly told how the new car I have this week has yet another staggering amount of on-board technology that is helping to make our cars safer, but also to make our lives easier too.
Well, I have given this some thought and I believe actually that some of this so called ‘new tech’ is actually making my life harder – and I will explain why.
Automatic/Electronic Handbrake: The Devils Tool
I own a little Fiat 500 which has a normal handbrake – Yes, one that you actually have to grab hold of and move a part of your body to make it function. This is a very simple device that has over its time saved many drivers from thundering down steep hills, over cliffs or if you’re a ‘yobbo’ doing handbrake turns in empty car parks at 2am in the morning.
So, then comes along a new and modern electronic handbrake that we are told will make our lives’ so much better – except mine, because as I said earlier – I drive very modern cars all year round and many of them now come with an electronic handbrake.
So, what do you think happens when I potter around in my own car? Well I will tell you what happens.
I basically forget I have to pull the lever to stop my car from rolling into another car, or from rolling down a hill because my brain had assumed that I was still driving the car with the electronic device fitted and the cars computer would do it for me.
By forgetting this, it forces me into scrambling back into my car all the time to frantically reach for the lever.
Of course some of you might argue that maybe its best all round if all cars are fitted with such a device so this can never happen again and you would have a very good point.
But, for the sake of me and all the other millions of people who can be regularly seen chasing their own car down the street – can we please just go back to the way it was before.
Of course there is more.
You know the automatic tailgate release button on your key fob? How many times have you actually used it? Both of the cars I own come with that feature but I have never used it because in most cars all it does is unlatch the boot.
Of course in a high end car you may have a motorised tailgate that lifts for you – but in a Fiat 500 you have nothing of the sort.
Also, it’s not like I go shopping and return to my car and think. ‘Dam, my hands are full – lets fumble about in my pocket for the car key and press the button to unlatch the boot lock’ – to then have to use my actual hand to lift the boot handle right where the latch is in the first place, it’s crazy. For me it is once again a completely pointless and utterly unless function and something that is just there for the only purpose of telling your friends you own a car with a button that unlocks the boot – and if you have conversations like that you probably don’t have any friends anyway.
So, moan over and now onto the road test of the Subaru Outback – a car that I liked very much, even before I got behind the wheel of the updated version.
Outback 2.0D SE Auto
The Subaru Legacy Outback was introduced to the world back in 1995, and was for me one of the world’s first crossovers – because it had managed to successfully combine the benefits of a passenger estate with the all-road capabilities of an SUV.
Since its introduction, the Outback has acted as Subaru’s flagship model in the UK, winning praise for its practical, all-road nature as well as winning the hearts and minds of whoever took to the wheel.
We are now into 2017 – and the fifth generation Subaru Outback you see before you sports a modern exterior design, a significantly higher quality interior than most, along with a raft of safety technology.
Power and Efficiency
The Outback was equipped with an efficient 2.0-litre Boxer Diesel engine - a unit that provides you with a maximum power of 150 PS and a torque figure of 350NM. On the combined cycle I achieved 46mpg which is quite impressive and if you are at all interested in maximum speed – then it comes in at around119mph and 0-62mph in 9.9s.
Outback buyers also have the option to choose a175PS naturally-aspirated 2.5-litre petrol engine which has been engineered for greater environmental friendliness and more accessible power, but I would opt for the Diesel every time as I feel it’s the better choice out of the two units.
On the Road
The Outback feels great on any road surface and that’s thanks to its predictable handling and smooth ride. Remember the Outback also has some of the best off-road capabilities and is in itself an effortless car to drive thanks mainly to the Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive layout, which helps further increase the Outback’s off-road credentials even over some of the toughest terrains.
I was also genuinely astonished how sure footed the Outback felt - even when pushed to the limit. I can clearly see now why so many outdoor family’s choose own one as a second car.
Design and Technology
Some of standard equipment on the Outback comes in the form of: Automatic LED headlamps, LED tail lamps, 17-inch aluminium alloy wheels, protective body cladding, wheel mounted gearshift paddles, automatic air conditioning system, tyre pressure monitoring system, 5.0-inch EyeSight LCD driver display, 7 airbags, ABS with Electronic Brake-force Distribution, Thatcham Cat 1 alarm Immobiliser, Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive, Vehicle Dynamics Control, Hill Start Assist and Active Torque Vectoring
Entertainment, you also get a 7.0-inch touch screen infotainment system, satellite navigation, Subaru STARLINK connectivity, steering wheel-mounted audio controls, Bluetooth hands-free, USB port and a six-speaker audio system.
To Sum Up
The Outback is nothing short of brilliant – it will be everything you will ever need it to be and then some. Of course there are areas where I feel the interior could be a touch better - but it’s very functional and the drive is most rewarding. I am happy to give the Outback 5 stars because it truly is a machine that always delivers - time and time again.
Price from: £30,995 By Anthony Yates