When Subaru pioneered the concept of the “crossover” vehicle in 1996 – one that combines the ride height and capability of a 4×4 with the comfort and practicality of an estate car – the company was clear about its target market: drivers who required a spacious, versatile machine which could cut it on the road and when the road runs out. Anyone would think they had shooters in mind…
So what features do shooters really look for in a new shoot vehicle? First and foremost, the ability to access areas off the beaten track is a given. The latest Outback’s symmetrical all-wheel drive, backed up by 200mm of ground clearance, ensures the necessary cross- country performance – plenty enough to negotiate muddy rutted tracks or slippery grass slopes. The Outback’s all-wheel grip is nothing without the power to support it. The impressive torque of Subaru’s renowned 2.0-litre Boxer turbo-diesel is mated to a smooth new Lineartronic CVT transmission. When you do head off the road, its seven-step manual mode usefully allows you to harness the Outback’s engine-braking capability.
No need to fear muddy stuff
Practicality as standard
High on the shooter’s wish list has to be practicality and here the Outback is not lacking. With room for five traveling in comfort, the Outback is certainly big enough to ferry you and your fellow Guns, but it also has plenty of the features that help make it a versatile shoot machine, including the useful facility to lay your guns flat across the rear load area.
As any DIY syndicate member knows only too well, there are times when your car will be called on for lugging duties. The Outback’s one-touch folding rear bench quickly opens up its cavernous 1,627-litre load area for when you have to put the odd feeder or a couple of sacks of wheat out. Standard-fit self-levelling rear suspension automatically adjusts the ride for such eventualities, while tie- down hooks in the load area and a rear- reversing camera mean you may find the Outback is called on more than most.
Plenty of room for five shooters and all their gear
The luxury touches
Significantly, the Outback couples off- road performance and practicality with comfort – another key requirement in a shoot vehicle, especially at the end of a howling wet day in the field. Flick on the standard-fit heated seats and the cruise control in the quiet cabin and your trip home will be far more civilised than the last drive of the day. The Subaru’s engaging on-road performance, all-wheel drive and stiffer suspension set-up inspire sure- footed confidence, even in foul conditions.
All-wheel drive for off-road
Peace of mind is a given
Finally, what do shooters need from their car? Security and peace of mind. The Outback offers it in spades, with practical features like a retractable luggage cover to keep prying opportunist eyes from your kit and a Thatcham Category 1 alarm to act as a genuine deterrent to the most determined thief. The whole package is backed up by a 5-year/100,000-mile warranty and a 3-year UK home and roadside assistance package as standard.
Off-road performance, on-road comfort, practicality, security and peace of mind. What more could a shooter need?