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First drive: Outback does diesel in a Subaru first

Middle-weight boxer: Subaru's new Outback has received the company's first diesel, in 'boxer' format, of course.

Subaru finally launches diesel power in the Outback 2.0D - with more to come

2 Nov 2009

SUBARU has finally launched its first diesel engine in Australia.

For now only the recently released fourth-generation Outback crossover receives the horizontally opposed four-cylinder turbo-diesel unit, priced from $40,490.

It is also believed to be the world’s first boxer diesel, Subaru says.

The Forester will follow suit from the middle of next year, with the Liberty and current Impreza also possible diesel recipients in the not-too-distant future.

However, a six-speed manual gearbox is the only transmission on offer for the time being since (a) Subaru has focussed on satiating the manual-centric European markets with the diesel it dubs the 2.0D, and (b) Japanese and North American demand for diesel is still negligible (although growing in the US).

The absent automatic will significantly limit the Outback 2.0D’s appeal in Australia, prompting Subaru to advise conservative monthly forecast figures of 100 diesel sales. Rural buyers are expected to make up about half of these.

But we understand that the Lineartronic continuously variable transmission launched in the latest Liberty/Outback petrol vehicles is poised to join the manual 2.0D, but not before about 2011 at the earliest.

2 center imageWhen this comes on stream expect a wave of new Subaru diesel models to arrive with it.

For now three Outback diesel models are offered in Oz – 2.0D, 2.0D Premium and 2.0D Premium SatNav, with each costing $2500 more than the 2.5i four-cylinder petrol-powered equivalent.

Meeting upcoming Euro V emissions standards now thanks partly to the common rail direct injection, variable vane turbo and particulate filter technology fitted, the Outback’s 2.0D is actually the second-generation version, with cleaner outputs compared to the earlier iteration introduced last year on the last of the previous-generation Liberty and Outback. Australia’s 2.0D remains a Euro IV unit, though.

The 1998cc 2.0-litre twin cam boxer four-cylinder turbo-diesel delivers 110kW of power at 3600rpm and 350Nm of torque from 1800 to 2400rpm. 300Nm is on offer from 1600rpm.

The official combined fuel consumption average is 6.4 litres per 100 kilometres, for a potential range of about 1100km from the 65L tank, while the carbon dioxide emissions rating is 160g/km.

In contrast, the Outback 2.5i petrol manual returns 8.9L/100km (2.5i CVT: 8.4) and 209g/km (2.5i CVT: 198).

The diesel Outback’s urban and extra urban results are 7.7L/100km (202g/km) and 5.6L/100km (149g/km) respectively.

Subaru Australia managing director Nick Senior said going for the 2.0D would bring big money savings for people who drove more than the national yearly average.

“We estimate that driving 25,000km a year at $90 per tank of diesel would save approximately $2500 over 20 months on an equivalent petrol car,” he said.

The extra mass of the diesel engine adds 87kg to the Outback, for a kerb weight of 1551kg.

Top speed for overseas versions of the 2.0D is 195km/h, while the 0-100km/h-sprint time takes 9.7 seconds – that’s 0.1 seconds slower than the 2.5i petrol manual but 0.7 seconds sprightlier than the 2.5i petrol CVT.

As with all other 2010 Outback models, the 2.0D comes with an ‘ECO’ gauge and gear shift up/down indicator for more efficient driving habits.

Everything else is standard Mk4 Outback fare, which means ANCAP five-star safety, seven airbags (including one for a driver’s knee), and Subaru’s fancy engine cradle structure that folds to better-absorb impact energy.

New Outback is larger and considerably roomier than the old model in every key dimension (length +65mm, width +50mm, height +70mm, wheelbase +75mm).

Quieter and more aerodynamic, it also loses Subaru’s one-time trademark frameless door-glass construction for conventional sash-frame glass.

The front suspension uses MacPherson struts mounted to that cradle, and the new double-wishbone rear suspension set-up boasts self-levelling technology. Ride height is rated at 213mm.

Steering is via a hydraulically powered rack and pinion system.

A new electronic park brake has been incorporated, and the Outback continues with a hill holder system that kicks in if the vehicle is stopped on a hill with a gradient of over five per cent.

Cargo area capacity grows 31 litres due to the 19mm gains in width at the wheel arch and an extra 35mm at the quarter panel. However, due to less rear overhang, the rear floor is not quite as deep as before.

Standard safety features include Subaru’s Vehicle Dynamics Control device – deploying ESC and traction controls as well as anti-lock brakes, brake assist, electronic brake-force distribution and an LSD-like Limited Slip Device that works in concert with the ESC.

All 2.0Ds include dual-zone air-conditioning, 17-inch alloy wheels, cruise control, DataDot security and a leather-wrapped steering wheel.

The 2.0D Premium adds leather upholstery, sunroof and rear air vents, while the SatNav version throws in satellite navigation, a reverse camera, Bluetooth connectivity and improved audio functionality, including an AUX jack.

Towing capacity is rated at 1700kg with a braked trailer and 700kg without brakes.

As with the Outback 2.5i, the first servicing is set at 12,500km or six months.

Subaru says that it already has back orders for more than 200 2.0Ds, and – based on the initial demand for the other Mk4 Outback models – expects about half of all buyers to choose the top-line version.

More than 65,000 Outbacks have been sold in Australia from the time of the 1996 launch.

Subaru Outback range pricing:
2.5i $37,990
2.5i CVT (a) $40,490
2.0D $40,490
2.5i Premium $41,490
2.5i Premium CVT (a) $43,990
2.0D Premium $43,990
2.5i Premium with SatNav $43,990
2.5i Premium with SatNav CVT (a) $46,490
2.0D Premium with SatNav $46,490
3.6R (a) $48,490
3.6R with SatNav (a) $55,990

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