Updated Outback a 2018 release for NZ

Improvements to the Outback have been revealed – but Kiwis will be waiting a year to experience them.
Monday April 10, 2017

By Richard Bosselman

SPECIFICATION and styling updates for Subaru’s strongest-selling model revealed in North America are coming to New Zealand ... around this time next year.

The facelift for the Subaru Outback has been unveiled ahead of a full debut at this week’s New York motor show, though production will not start for some months yet.

Initially, too, it seems the refreshed model will only source from the brand’s plant in Indiana, with Japan not set to start until next year.

That means North America – Subaru’s single biggest market by far – will enjoy a healthy head start over the rest of the world, as the Indiana factory solely produces for North America.

Subaru New Zealand boss Wal Dumper, freshly returned from a trip to Japan where he saw the update, is pragmatic about the prospect of a 12-month wait.

Although the current Outback will stand – once the new XV comes in June – as the sole Subaru car here without latest technology upgrades that debutted in the latest Impreza which launched in February, it still holds firm as the brand’s top seller locally.

“Outback captures around half our sales and, like every model we have - except the Forester – it is subject to a waiting list,” he explained.

“We have been lucky to have secured extra supply of Outback and Impreza for this year, which will ease things a bit.”

Interest in Impreza has been especially high and the extra stock will not do much to alleviate this, Dumper admits. NZ was told that it could only have 300 units this year and most have been spoken for. It now seems likely to secure 50-100 more cars. It's a bonus, but not enough to fully meet the demand, Dumper believes. However, he says Subaru NZ is keen to contain the car's presence here and he would prefer to have too few than too many.

The updated Outback’s core in-cabin enhancements are in tune with the Impreza, with the climate control interface and infotainment systems being redesigned.

The latter has been upgraded with 6.5- and 8.0-inch displays and have the latest Starlink featuring Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone mirroring, more accurate voice recognition and a faster processor.

The model also adopts the latest generation of the EyeSight accident avoidance tech.

The visual changes also bring it into line with the brand’s newest car. C-shaped headlights with LED daytime running lights and a revised grille, and a new bumper implement.

Higher spec models adopt headlight units that can adjust their beam in accordance with steering wheel input. The EyeSight system also avails automatic high beam activation. Tyre pressure monitoring and lane keeping assist functions are also improved.

Subaru has notified that the Outback also features reshaped wing mirrors, and tweaks to the suspension, braking and electric power steering systems.

The updated Outback should be quieter too thanks to a short-pitch chain for the CVT, thicker rear wheel well aprons, and new sound-insulating glass for the front side windows.

The car continues with unchanged versions of the company’s 2.5-litre four-cylinder and 3.6-litre six-cylinder petrol boxer engines. As is currently the case, all-wheel drive and a continuously variable transmission are standard.