SUBARU OUTBACK 2.0D | 77/100
Price & Equipment | 15/20
In the battle of the raised AWD turbo-diesel manual wagons the Outback brings auto headlights and wipers, reversing camera, dual-zone climate, 6.2in touchscreen with Bluetooth connectivity and voice control, and seven airbags, though you miss adaptive cruise and the Eyesight active safety suite in the manual (they’re standard in the $2K pricier CVT). Interior & Versatility
Outback cabin roomy and well assembled, with agreeable driving position and more rear legroom than its rival thanks to a longer 2746mm wheelbase. As in the Scout, the Subaru seats are trimmed in cloth but both get leather on steering wheel and gearlever. Clever one-touch folding rear seats increase luggage space from 512 litres to 1801. 16/20
Performance & Economy | 15/20
Both these cars are powered by 2.0-litre turbo-diesel four-pots, but Subaru’s is a north-south flat-four rather than a transverse in-line engine. Both muster 110kW but the Subie is a bit heavier at 1630kg, and consequently less quick at 9.7sec for the 0-100 sprint. A refined, willing worker, the oiler boxer officially uses 5.7L/100km.
Ride & Refinement | 17/20
Riding on 17s wrapped in 225/65 all-surface tyres, Outback looks after its occupants in both urban and country touring conditions. The fat sidewalls help low-speed compliance, while the extra suspension travel (compared with a Liberty) ensures a terrific ability to blot bumps at speed, resulting in a well-controlled and quiet ride.
Steering & Handling | 14/20
Subaru’s trademark all-paw balance is even more deeply buried in the Outback than the Liberty, due to its light off-roading rubber and higher centre of gravity. But the steering is the real let-down – it’s heavy at city speeds, sticky and low on feel around centre, and only delivers a decent sense of connection once you add speed.
SKODA SCOUT 110 TDI | 82/100
Price & Equipment | 17/20
The $3500-cheaper Skoda matches its rival for key equipment, then adds safety extras such as city emergency braking and multi-collision braking systems, an extra pair of rear airbags, adaptive cruise, tyre-pressure monitor and parking sensors front and rear. The few misses include manual air-con and a speed-limited full-size (16in) steel spare.
Interior & Versatility | 17/20
Surprise and delight features include a rubbish bin in the door trim, a handy double-sided cargo area mat, a ticket-holder on the A-pillar and a chilled glovebox. Spacious inside considering smaller length, width and wheelbase, and the boot is huge; 588 litres with the 60/40 seatbacks upright or 1718 litres with them flipped via the remote release.
Performance & Economy | 16/20
The 70kg-lighter Scout produces a fraction less torque at slightly higher revs but feels friskier and does 0-100 in 9.1sec. Both at their best out of town where oil-burners excel and urban issues related to the marriage of manual gearbox and diesel engine (with relatively narrow torque band) vanish. Refined and frugal, at 4.9L/100km.
Ride & Refinement | 16/20
Scout, also on 17s, has a slightly tauter demeanour, but still deals admirably with sharp-edged bumps and bigger lumps. However, it doesn’t do hushed touring quite as well, letting more tyre and wind noise into the cabin. Suspension is a bit lower than Outback’s, offering 171mm of ground clearance (compared with 213mm).
Steering & Handling | 16/20
Scout’s steering gives it a distinctly different flavour. It’s pointier and more enthusiastic than the Outback, and a firmer chassis and road tyres makes it an enjoyable steer. Yes, you lose some handling immediacy by raising the ride height of the donor Octavia, but it’s a fair trade-off for light dirt-duty ability and an elevated view.
Anyone looking to sidestep SUV ownership should take a look at this pair, which work with the raised-wagon philosophy to deliver similarly appealing packages. The manual diesels arguably are not the versions to have – in part because the Subie misses out on the Eyesight safety package that comes with the auto – though they do mark the turbo-diesel entry point for both brands. But you
could have a mid-level petrol auto Scout for not much more than the base Outback oiler. The three-year retained value figures are similar, and the warranties are identical. The Outback, probably with a CVT, might suit if you’ll regularly do some light off-roading. But we’d go for the Scout – possibly in 132 TSI form – because it’s a nicer steer that works better on the black stuff.