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Subaru Outback


Peugeot 2008

Summary

Subaru Outback

It never used to be like this. Families used to choose a station wagon or estate car because that body style was the smartest choice. Maybe not the most desirable choice, but wagons were, and always have been, pragmatic.  

And then SUVs came on the scene. People thought they needed these stylised hatchbacks to sit higher in traffic and live out their “weekend warrior” image. Oh, those “active lifestyle” types. And in recent times, SUVs have become the go-to – accounting for half of all new vehicle sales in 2020.

But the Subaru Outback 2021 is here to stand up to those wannabe SUVs, with its own take on the up-high recipe. Admittedly it’s not like the Subaru Outback approach to the SUV formula is new – this is the sixth generation version of the venerable high-riding wagon, but this new model is apparently more SUV than ever. Subaru Australia even calls it a “true blue, mud in its blood all-wheel drive SUV”. 

So does it have what it takes to stand out in the crowd? Let’s dive a little deeper and find out.

Safety rating
Engine Type2.5L
Fuel TypeRegular Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency7.3L/100km
Seating5 seats

Peugeot 2008

The all-new 2021 Peugeot 2008 is designed to stand out in the crowded small SUV space, and it’s fair to say that this stylish French small SUV does exactly that.

It stands out not only because of its eye-catching design, but also due to its frankly wishful pricing strategy, which pushes the Peugeot 2008 from being seen as a rival to the VW T-Cross, MG ZST and Honda HR-V more towards the realm inhabited by the Mazda CX-30, Audi Q2 and VW T-Roc.

You might also be thinking about this as an alternative to the recently released Ford Puma or Nissan Juke. And you wouldn’t be out of place thinking it might rival the Hyundai Kona and Kia Seltos, too. 

The thing is, the base model pricing is equivalent to what most of its rivals have in mid-range spec variants. And the top spec is over the odds, too, despite both offering pretty comprehensive equipment lists.

So is the 2021 Peugeot 2008 worth the money? And what’s it like on the whole? Let’s get to it.

Safety rating
Engine Type1.2L turbo
Fuel TypePremium Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency6.1L/100km
Seating5 seats

Verdict

Subaru Outback7.9/10

The sixth-generation, 2021 Subaru Outback has incrementally improved the large wagon-slash-SUV, with a number of important steps forward including better safety tech, a more powerful engine and smarter cabin. A turbo or hybrid powertrain would sweeten the deal even further.

I don’t know that you’d really need anything other than the base model Outback AWD, which seems like a truly great value offering. It’d be our pick of the range.


Peugeot 20087.5/10

If you are the sort of buyer who will pay over the odds for a car that looks great, then you might be a Peugeot 2008 customer. It’s a pretty impressive small SUV, but it’s pricing pushes it outside of the realms of reasonable consideration, especially given the raft of impressive rivals with which it competes.

Although Peugeot Australia expects more customers to go for the top-spec GT Sport, and we reckon it’s better equipped based on the standard safety spec, it’s hard to look past the Allure, though even it is too expensive for what you’re getting.

Design

Subaru Outback7/10

It’s an all-new car. It doesn’t necessarily look like it, and in fact – to my eye – it’s not as attractive as the fifth-generation model, which was an expert in being inoffensive, where this model has a few more design-lead changes that might divide opinions.

You won’t mistake it for anything other than an Outback, as it has that typical rugged high-riding wagon look that we’ve come to expect from it. But it’s almost like this is a facelift rather than an all-new car.

Like, literally – the features have all been cinched back at the front, and the wheel-arches have been tweaked so they stand more at attention… it literally looks like an age-denying citizen’s approach at looking younger. A bit too much Botox? Tell us what you think the comments below.

But there are still smart design highlights, like the roof rails with integrated roof racks that are stowable/deployable in the base and top models, while the mid-spec model has a fixed roof rack system. 

The fact all models have LED lighting all-around is nice, while the 18-inch wheels… well, none of them are to my taste. To me, they just aren’t as youthful as some of the other elements of the car are trying to elucidate.

And the rear-end treatment? Well, that’s the only spot where you’re most likely to confuse it with another car… and that doppelganger would be a Forester.

On the inside there are some really nice design changes, though. Check out the interior pictures below.


Peugeot 20089/10

The design is what could get you through the door and ready to lay down your money more than anything else about the Peugeot 2008. It is a very attractively styled model - far less van-like than its predecessor, and more modern, masculine and aggressive in its stance than before, too.

In fact, this new model is 141mm longer (now 4300mm) on a 67mm longer wheelbase (now 2605mm), but it’s also wider by 30mm (now 1770mm) and a bit lower to the ground too (1550mm tall).

It’s the way the designers have made this chunky new model look that has really hunkered it down, though. From the claw-like LED light slashes that run from the edges of the headlights down through the front bumper, to the upright grille (which varies depending on the variant) and angular metalwork pressing through the doors of the car.

If you want to know what Peugeot had in mind when it pencilled the new-gen 2008, you need to look back to the Quartz concept from 2014. Then you need to squint, make sure you don’t look too closely, and voila!

The rear is a sight to behold too, with a clean and broad look to it that is emphasised by the tail-light cluster and central garnish. Gotta love those claw mark tail-lights and the LED DRLs on the top-spec version, too. 

You’ll decide if you like it or not, but there is no denying that its styling helps it stand out in the class. And because the new model is built on Peugeot’s CMP platform, it can be fitted with an electric motor or plug-in hybrid drivetrain as well as the petrol one used here. More on that below.

But what is also interesting is the fact the Peugeot team reckons the Allure model that opens the range is more targeted at the outdoorsy types (and has equipped it as such), while the GT Sport is for the more enthusiast-oriented buyer. We reckon they could have gone a bit harder on the themes, here, particularly for the Allure. And maybe not with Allure as its model name. Remember the original Peugeot 2008, which had a variant named Outdoor?

The eye-catching design flows into the cabin area - see the interior pictures below to get what I’m talking about - but there really is no other small SUV like this in terms of cabin design and presentation.

The brand’s polarising i-Cockpit - with its high-mount digital dashboard cluster and its tiny little steering wheel that you’re supposed to look over, not through - is either going to be fine by you, or completely unacceptable. I fall into the former, meaning I plonk the steering wheel down low in my lap, and set my seat so I’m looking over the tiller to the screen, and find it’s both interesting and likeable to live with.

There are plenty of other considerations for the practicality of the cabin, which we’ll cover off next.

Practicality

Subaru Outback9/10

Subaru has taken some pretty big steps when it comes to changing the interior of the Outback, with the most prominent change being front and centre of the cabin – that huge new 11.6-inch touchscreen media system.

It’s a really interesting looking piece of technology, and like the existing media screen in the Outback, is crisp, colourful and offers quick response times. It’s something that takes a little bit of getting used to – the fan controls are digital, for instance, but there are buttons either side of the screen for temperature control – but once you’ve spent some time with it, you’d be surprised just how intuitive it all is.

The Apple CarPlay worked a treat, connecting up without hassle. And while it isn’t wireless CarPlay, we haven’t yet tested a car with that tech that’s worked as it should… so, yay for cables!

There are two USB ports below the screen, and two additional charging ports in the back seat centre section as well. That’s good, but there’s no wireless charging pad at all, which isn’t great.

And while the big screen has done away with the multiple screen layout and the huge number of buttons in the old car, the new one still has a number of buttons on the steering wheel, which are easy to learn too. I had some trouble acclimating to the blinker stalk, with the one-touch indicator trigger seemingly being a bit too hard to activate at times. It’s a quiet “ticker”, too, so there were a few times when I was driving with my indicator on for ages without realising it.

Storage is mostly really well considered in the Outback, with bottle holders and storage sleeves in all four doors, plus a pair of cup holders between the front seats (they are a little large if you prefer a small takeaway coffee), and in the back there’s a fold-down centre armrest with cupholders, too.

The front also has a small storage section below the media screen (not quite large enough for a large-format smartphone), plus there’s a covered centre console bin, and the dashboard design may have been inspired by the RAV4, as there’s a neat little rubberised shelf in front of the passenger where you could put a phone or wallet. 

In terms of space for occupants, taller people will be fine in the front or the rear. I’m 182cm or 6’0” tall, and I managed to find a comfortable driving position, and was able to sit behind it with ample knee room, toe room and head space, too. The width is great, too, with plenty of room across the cabin. Three of me could easily fit side by side, but if you have children you’ll be happy to know there are two ISOFIX and three top-tether points for baby seats.

The back seat occupants should be kept happy as there are directional vents in all grades, while the top two specs score rear outboard seat heating, too. Nice.

There are some other nice inclusions for rear seat occupants, including recline adjust for the backrests of the seats, and the seatbelts are set in such a way that they should never get in the way when you lower the back seats down (60:40 split fold, actuated by triggers in the boot area).

Speaking of the boot space, there’s plenty. The new Outback offers 522 litres (VDA) or cargo capacity, with is 10L more than before. Plus, as mentioned, the seats fold flat to allow 1267L of luggage capacity. 

Equivalent mid-size SUVs priced close to the Outback can’t match it for practicality, and the cabin’s look and feel is greatly improved over the previous model. It’s a very nice place to spend time.


Peugeot 20088/10

It’s a small SUV, but it’s surprisingly spacious inside. There are plenty of models in this segment that manage this trick, and the Peugeot 2008 does it with a bit more flair than some.

The aforementioned i-Cockpit cabin design is attention grabbing, and so is the 3D cluster design on the driver’s display. It is mostly easy to get used to the controls, but despite Peugeot claiming the digital system can show the driver safety warnings faster than conventional dials and lights, there is some lag and delay when you adjust the screen display or trigger through the drive modes. 

The steering wheel is a charming size and shape, the seats are comfortable and easy to adjust - but there are still some ergonomic annoyances.

For example, the cruise control system - which is a stalk hidden behind the steering wheel - can take a while to figure out. So can the steering wheel controls, and the driver info screen menu buttons (one is on the end of the wiper stalk, one on the steering wheel!). And the climate controls: there are switches and buttons for some parts, but the fan control - which is essential to access quickly on really hot or really cold days - is through the media screen, not a physical button or knob.

At least the media screen has a volume knob this time around, and the presentation of that bank of buttons below the screen looks to have been plucked straight from Lamborghini’s notebook. 

The screen itself is okay - it is a little laggy to jump between screens or menus, and the 7.0-inch unit in the base model car is a bit small by modern standards. The 10.0-inch is a better fit for the technical focus of the cabin.

The material quality is mostly pretty good, with a neat soft-touch carbon-look trim on the dashboard, pleasing seat trim in both specs, and soft door elbow pads on all four doors (alarming becoming a less common thing in European SUVs).

It is French so the central cup holders are smaller than you might want, and the door pockets don’t have bottle-shaped receptacles, though they will fit a decent sized fizzy or water. The glovebox is tiny, and so is the centre armrest storage pod, but there’s a good size section in front of the shifter, and a drop down shelf which, in the top-grade model, incorporates wireless smartphone charging.

Rear seat convenience is somewhat wanting, with a pair of mesh map pockets but no centre cup holder or armrest, even in the high grade. The rear door pockets are modest, too, and the back door trims are a harder wearing material than that used up front. 

The rear seat is a 70/30 split fold setup, with dual ISOFIX and top tether points. The occupant space is quite good for the size of the car - at 182cm or 6’0” I could easily fit behind my own driving position without wanting for more knee-room, headroom or toe room. Three adults across will be a squish, and those with big feet will need to watch themselves on the door-sills, which are quite high and can make ingress and egress clumsier than it should be.

The boot space is a claimed 434 litres (VDA) to the top of the seats with the two-stage boot floor in its highest position, according to Peugeot. That increases to 1015L with the rear seats folded down. There’s a space-saver spare wheel under the boot floor, too.

Price and features

Subaru Outback9/10

The Subaru Outback range remains a value-focused option for customers out there who want a lot of car for their money. 

It still starts under forty grand in sixth-generation guise, though prices have gone up somewhat compared to the old model, which Subaru says is justified by additional equipment and safety technology.

All models have the same powertrain, so it’s purely gear and goodies that separates the three variants: the entry-level Outback AWD ($39,990), mid-range AWD Sport ($44,490) and top-spec AWD Touring ($47,490). Those prices are MSRP/list pricing, before on-road costs.

Now, here’s a rundown of the range.

The base model AWD comes with 18-inch alloy wheels and a full size alloy spare, roof rails with stowable roof rack cross bars, LED headlights, LED foglights, push-button start, keyless entry, electric park brake, rain-sensing wipers, heated and power-folding side mirrors, fabric seat trim, leather steering wheel, paddle-shifters, electric adjustment for the front seats, rear seats with manual recline, and a 60:40 split-fold rear seat with boot release levers.

The AWD entry-level car – and both the variants above – have a new 11.6-inch touchscreen media screen in portrait layout, which incorporates Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring tech. There are six speakers standard, as well as four USB ports (2x front, 2x rear).

The next model up the range is the AWD Sport, which – like the Forester Sport model – gets a number of aesthetic changes to help split it from its stablemates.

They include model-specific dark 18-inch wheels, black exterior trim changes, fixed roof rails, a power tailgate, water repellent interior trim with green stitching, heated front and outboard rear seats, sports pedals, light-sensing headlights (auto on/off) and it gets sat nav as part of the media screen, too. This grade scores a front view and side view monitor for parking/low speed driving, too.

The top-end AWD Touring has a few luxury-focused extras over the other grades, including an electric sunroof, Nappa leather interior trim, a heated steering wheel, auto dipping passenger side door mirror, memory settings for driver’s seat, satin finish door mirrors, silver highlight roof rails (with stowable crossbars), and gloss-finish wheels. 

The interior also upgrades the stereo in this grade to a nine-speaker harman/kardon setup with subwoofer and single CD player. All grades have DAB+ digital radio too.

All grades have an array of safety technology, including a driver monitoring system that will warn you to keep your eyes on the road and monitor for signs of drowsiness, and in the top-spec model includes face recognition that can adjust the seat and side mirrors for you.

All models come with a reversing camera, Subaru’s EyeSight forward facing camera system that incorporates AEB, lane keeping, adaptive cruise control and more. There are full details on the safety systems and their operability in the section below.

Things missing from any grade of Outback? It would have been nice to have a wireless phone charger, and there are no traditional parking sensors, either.

Overall though, there’s a lot to like across multiple grades, here.

If you’re interested in colours (or colors if you prefer), then you might be intrigued to know there are nine colours available. Two can’t be had on the AWD Sport grade - Storm Grey Metallic and Crimson Red Pearl – but it can be had in any of the remaining colours, as can the other trim levels: Crystal White Pearl, Magnetite Grey Metallic, Ice Silver Metallic, Crystal Black Silica, Dark Blue Pearl, and the new Autumn Green Metallic and Brilliant Bronze Metallic.

The best news? None of the colour choices will cost you any extra money!


Peugeot 20087/10

The Peugeot 2008 is one of the most expensive small SUVs in the mainstream part of the market, and it comes across quite overpriced at a quick glance at the price list.

The entry-level Allure model is a $34,990 proposition - that’s the MSRP/RRP, before on-road costs. The top-spec GT Sport version is $43,990 (list price/MSRP).

Let’s go through the standard specifications and equipment list for each model to see if they can justify the cost.

In the Allure, the standard gear comprises 17-inch alloy wheels with Bridgestone Dueler tyres (215/60), LED headlights with LED daytime running lights, cloth trim seats with “leather effects”, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, the brand’s new 3D i-cockpit digital dashboard, a 7.0-inch touchscreen media system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, DAB digital radio, a six-speaker stereo, four USB ports (3x USB 2.0, 1x USB C), climate control air-conditioning, push-button start (but not keyless entry), an auto-dimming rearview mirror, auto headlights, auto wipers, a “180-degree” reversing camera and rear parking sensors.

Allure models have hill descent control, where the top-grade models don’t, and they also have a different drive mode system with mud, sand, snow and normal driving settings that operate through the brand’s GripControl traction control management system.

The Allure has regular cruise control with speed sign recognition and a system that allows you to adjust to the signposted speed limit at the touch of a button, but it doesn't have fully adaptive cruise like the top-spec, which adds a number of safety items, too. More on the safety spec in the safety section below. 

You can resolve some of those safety tech shortcomings by spending 23 per cent more on the more powerful GT Sport variant, but let’s consider the comfort and convenience inclusions first.

The GT Sport runs 18-inch black alloy wheels with Michelin Primacy 3 rubber (215/55), has the ‘lion claw’ signature LED daytime running lights and adaptive LED headlights with auto high beam lights, keyless entry, a two-tone black roof and black mirror caps, and gets distinct drive modes - Eco, Normal and Sport - and also has paddle shifters.

The interior of the GT Sport has Nappa leather-appointed seats, electric driver’s seat adjustment, heated front seats, driver’s massage seat, 3D sat nav, wireless phone charging, a 10.0-inch media screen, ambient lighting, wireless smartphone charging, black headlining, a perforated leather steering wheel, aluminium pedals, stainless steel sill scuff plates, and a few other differentiators. The GT Sport can be had with an optional electric sunroof, at $1990.

For a little context: Toyota Yaris Cross - starts at $26,990; Skoda Kamiq - starts at $26,990; VW T-Cross - starts at $27,990; Nissan Juke - starts at $27,990; Mazda CX-30 - starts at $28,990; Ford Puma - starts at $29,990; Toyota C-HR - starts at $30,915. 

And then if you’re shopping for the GT Sport, there are rivals like: Audi Q2 35 TFSI - $41,950; Mini Countryman Cooper - $42,200; the VW T-Roc 140TSI Sport - $40,490; and even the Kia Seltos GT Line is a relative bargain at $41,400.

Yes the Peugeot 2008 is overpriced. But the weird thing is, Peugeot Australia has admitted that it knows the car is expensive, but reckons that the looks alone could make people spend extra on the 2008 over some of its rivals. 

Curious about Peugeot 2008 colours? The Allure has the choice of Bianca White (no charge), Onyx Black, Artense Grey or Platinium Grey ($690), and Elixir Red or Vertigo Blue ($1050). Choose the GT Sport, and the free option is Orange Fusion as well as most of the other colours, but there’s also a Pearl White choice ($1050) instead of the white offered on the Allure. And remember, the GT Sport models get the black roof finish, too.

Engine & trans

Subaru Outback7/10

The engine in all Subaru Outback 2021 models is a “90 per cent new” 2.5-litre four-cylinder “boxer” horizontally opposed petrol engine.

The motor produces 138kW of power (at 5800rpm) and 245Nm of torque (from 3400-4600rpm). Those are modest increases – 7 per cent more power and 4.2 per cent more torque – compared with the old Outback. 

It is only available with a “refined” Lineartronic continuously variable transmission (CVT) automatic, but all grades come with paddle-shifters as standard, so you can take matters in to your own hands – Subaru says there’s an “eight-speed manual mode”.

Towing capacity for the Outback range is 750kg for an unbraked trailer and 2000kg for a braked trailer, with a 200kg down weight for the tow bar. You can option a towbar as a genuine accessory.

Now, the elephant – or elephants – in the Outback are that it doesn’t launch with a hybrid powertrain, which means it’s falling behind the class leaders (yes, we’re talking about the likes of the Toyota RAV4, but even the Forester has a hybrid powertrain option!).

And the old diesel engine has been axed, plus there’s no six-cylinder petrol variant as there was in the previous model.

Plus while other markets get a four-cylinder turbo engine (a 2.4L with 194kW and 375Nm), we don’t have that option here. So, it’s naturally aspirated 4-cyl petrol power, or bust.


Peugeot 20087/10

The engines offered in the two grades of 2008 are the same in capacity, but offer a split in terms of specs and horsepower.

The Allure runs the 1.2-litre three-cylinder turbo-petrol Puretech 130 engine, which has 96kW of power (or 130hp - at 5500rpm) and 230Nm of torque (at 1750rpm). It is offered as standard with a six-speed Aisin automatic transmission and front-wheel drive, and the claimed 0-100km/h for this model is 9.9 seconds.

Does the GT Sport’s 1.2-litre turbo three-cylinder petrol justify its nameplate? Well, the Puretech 155 tune makes 114kW (at 5500rpm) and 240Nm (at 1750rpm), has an eight-speed auto from Aisin, FWD and a 0-100km/h claim of 8.9sec. 

Those are strong engine power and torque figures for the class, outgrunting most of their direct rivals. Both models have engine start-stop tech for fuel saving - more on fuel use in the next part.

Fuel consumption

Subaru Outback7/10

The official combined cycle fuel consumption figure – that’s the claimed fuel economy the brand reckons you should achieve across a mix of driving – is stated at 7.3 litres per 100 kilometres.

That’s pretty good, and it’s aided by the engine’s start-stop technology that even has a readout that tells you how many millilitres of fuel you’re saving when it’s active. I like that.

In our real world testing we saw a return – at the pump – of 8.8L/100km across highway, urban, back road and traffic jam testing. That’s not bad, but in similar driving in a Toyota RAV4 hybrid I’ve seen economy of about 5.5L/100km.

We assume Subaru Australia will add a hybrid version of the Outback at some point (like it has with the XV Hybrid and Forester Hybrid), but at this point in time, the petrol engine is your only choice.

Fuel tank capacity is 63 litres, and it can take 91RON regular unleaded.


Peugeot 20087/10

The claimed combined cycle fuel consumption for the Allure model is 6.5 litres per 100 kilometres, with emissions of 148g/km CO2.

The combined cycle claim for the GT Sport version is a little lower, at 6.1L/100km and CO2 emissions of 138g/km. 

On the surface it may seem strange that both of those figures are considerably higher than the claim of the existing 1.2L auto model - which was less powerful but used a claimed 4.8L/100km. But that’s down to the change in testing procedures over the time between models.

For what it’s worth, we saw a dashboard-indicated 6.7L/100km on the Allure we drove mainly on highways and in easy urban driving, while the GT Sport was showing 8.8L/100km across that and a bit more spirited driving on wet, twisty roads.

Curious about the plug-in hybrid (PHEV) or electric (EV) versions of the 2008? They may well come to Australia, but we won’t know until probably 2021.

Fuel tank capacity is just 44 litres.

Driving

Subaru Outback8/10

If you’ve driven a previous-generation Subaru Outback, you’re not going to feel like this is unfamiliar territory.

That’s because this version, well, it sticks to the formula. Even if you’ve driven the new Forester, it might feel pretty familiar.

Much of that comes down to the engine and transmission. The 2.5L four-cylinder boxer is a strong engine, but not a punchy one. It offers good response and smooth power delivery for the most part, and it will push you back in your seat if you plant your foot, but not in the same way a petrol-electric hybrid or a turbocharged four-cylinder might.

And while there is still some Subaru “boxer” rumble from under the bonnet, it’s largely a pretty hushed place to be when you’re driving it in normal circumstances. If you accelerate hard you’ll hear the engine more, and that’s down to the behaviour of the CVT automatic.

Some people will hate it because it’s a CVT, but Subaru does a pretty good job with these transmissions, and in the Outback it’s as inoffensive as they come. And yes, there is a manual mode with paddle shifters if you want to take matters into your own hands, but for the most part, you shouldn’t really need to.

The steering is direct and offers good weighting and response, pivoting pretty well in corners while also allowing you to turn the car easily when you’re parking. There’s not much feel to the steering, but that’s not what this car is about, and thankfully the trademark Subaru visibility from the driver’s seat means it is easier to park than some other SUVs out there. 

The ride is mostly good, with a supple character that is more about comfort than anything else. It’s a little more softly sprung and a touch underdamped than some people might like, meaning it can be a little wobbly or jittery depending on the road, but I think it’s the right balance for the intent of the car – a family wagon / SUV that has some potential off-road chops.

It is all-wheel drive after all, and there is Subaru’s X-Mode system – with snow/dirt and deep snow/mud modes – that should be helpful if you find yourself off the beaten path. I did some light gravel track driving in the Outback, and found its 213mm ground clearance to be plentiful, while the suspension was pretty well sorted.


Peugeot 20087/10

I had rather high expectations for the new-generation Peugeot 2008, having been a huge fan of its predecessor. Does the new one live up to it? Well, yes and no.  

Admittedly the conditions we drove it in weren’t what Peugeot would have been hoping for - a late October day with a high of 13 degrees and sideways rain for most of the drive program - but they actually showed up a few shortcomings that dry weather driving presumably wouldn’t reflect.  

For instance, there was a serious struggle for traction at the front axle, to the point that ‘axle tramp’ - where the front tyres scrabble so hard to grip the surface that the front end feels as though it’s bouncing up and down on the spot - was a constant consideration when taking off from a standstill. If you’ve not experienced this, maybe you own an all-wheel or rear-wheel drive car, you could think there’s something wrong with the car. It is pretty disconcerting.

Once things are moving there’s better progress on offer, though it must be said that the GT Sport struggled for traction and was constantly squirming at the front axle, with the flashing traction control light a regular feature on the digital dashboard. This was the case in corners, too, where you want to feel assured progress and your tyres gripping the road surface to pull you back up to speed. 

The GT Sport’s drive experience was otherwise pretty darn good. The suspension is a little tighter than the Allure, and that was noticeable over both lumpy road surfaces and the open road, where it transmitted more of the smaller lumps and bumps but also managed to feel less floaty and soft.

So it’ll depend which you prefer as to what model hits your targets. The Allure’s softer suspension is more urban friendly, though it’s 17-inch wheels and higher profile tyres - as well as the GripControl traction management system with mud, sand and snow modes - means it’s actually supposed to feel better in the open country.

Either of these two is going to offer some delight when it comes to the steering, which is both very quick to turn but also entertaining in its action because of the size of the wheel. The nose darts when it comes to direction changes, while parking is a cinch thanks to its tiny (10.4m) turning circle and quick lock-to-lock electro-hydraulic steering rack. 

The engine in the Allure offers enough punch to suit the vast majority of buyers, so if you don’t want the glitter that comes in the top grade, you’ll likely find it completely fine for your needs. But if you do want to explore the engine’s potential, the GT Sport’s transmission - with two extra ratios and paddle-shifters for manual control - allows you that. Both, though, have the advantage of not being fidgety at take-off pace, as both are standard torque-converter auto gearboxes, not dual-clutch transmissions like so many of its jerkier competitors. 

Neither is what I’d call “fast”, but both are quick enough to get moving despite some noticeable turbo lag in the Allure, which is less of a concern in the GT Sport thanks to its high-flow turbo and improved breathing. It gathers pace well, and because it’s so light (1287kg in GT Sport trim) it feels agile and sprightly. 

The driver’s pick is the GT Sport, just. But in all honesty, both could be better at getting their power to the ground.

Safety

Subaru Outback9/10

There is no ANCAP crash test safety rating as yet for the 2021 Outback range, but it has a lot of the technology and safety goodies that customers shopping for a family SUV or wagon would expect. 

As standard there is Subaru’s EyeSight stereo camera system that reads the road ahead, and it incorporates forward/front autonomous emergency braking (AEB) for vehicles that works between 10km/h and 160km/h. There's also pedestrian AEB (1km/h to 30km/h) and cyclist detection and AEB (60km/h or less), and it has lane keeping technology with emergency lane keep assist that can swerve the car to avoid impacts with cars, people or cyclists (approximately 80km/h or less). Lane departure prevention works from 60km/h to 145km/h.

All grades also get blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, adaptive cruise control, a driver monitor camera that watches the driver and warns them if they’re not paying attention to the road or starting to get drowsy (the top-spec model’s version of this also includes seat and mirror adjustment memory based on your face!), plus there is speed sign recognition, too.

All grades have a reversing camera, while the top two specs have front view and side view cameras, but none have a 360-degree surround view camera. All models also have rear AEB, a system Subaru calls reverse auto braking (RAB) that can halt the car if it detects there’s something behind it when you’re backing up. It also doubles as reversing sensors for all grades, but none have front parking sensors.

And there are other elements to the safety matrix, including Lead Vehicle Start Alert (the cameras tell you when the car in front has driven off) and lane centring (to keep you in the middle of your lane), both of which operate between 0km/h and 145km/h, and there is adaptive high beam lights on all grades, too.

The airbag count for the Outback is eight, with dual front, front side, driver’s knee, passenger centre-front, and full-length curtain coverage.


Peugeot 20088/10

The Peugeot 2008 achieved a 2019 five-star Euro NCAP crash test rating for the equivalent spec models we’re receiving in Australia. It’s unclear if the score will be mirrored by ANCAP or not, though it likely won’t be re-tested under 2020 criteria.

The Allure model has auto emergency braking (AEB) which is operational from 10km/h to 180km/h, and it incorporates daytime pedestrian detection (from 0-60km/h) and cyclist detection (operational from 0-80km/h).

There's also active lane departure warning that can steer the car back into its lane if it breaches the road line markings (from 65km/h to 180km/h), speed sign recognition, cruise control with speed sign adaptation, driver attention alert (fatigue monitoring), hill descent control, and a 180-degree reversing camera system (semi surround view). 

Step up to the GT Sport and you get day and night AEB with pedestrian and cyclist detection, as well as blind spot monitoring and a system called Lane Positioning Assist that can steer the car when the GT Sport model's standard adaptive cruise control system (with stop-and-go capability in traffic) is active. There’s also auto high-beam lighting and semi-autonomous parking

Missing from all 2008 models is rear cross-traffic alert and rear AEB, not to mention a proper 360-degree surround view camera. The camera system used here is not great.

Ownership

Subaru Outback7/10

Subaru doesn’t go beyond expectations in the mainstream class, with a five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty now par for the course.

The brand also has shorter maintenance intervals than some, with services scheduled every 12 months or 12,500km (most are 15,000km intervals).

The costs of maintenance aren’t that low, either. After an initial free checkup at one-month, the services cost: $345 (12 months/12,500km); $595 (24 months/25,000km); $351 (36 months/37,500km); $801 (48 months/50,000km); and $358 (60 months/62,500km). That averages out at about $490 per service, which is high. 

If you’re worried about budgeting for that cost every year, you can bundle a service plan into your financing – a smart move, if you ask me. There are two options available: a three-year/37,500km plan and a five-year/62,500km plan. Neither saves you money over pay-as-you-go, but these plans also include three years roadside assist and the option of a free loan car when it comes time to service your own Outback. And if you decide to sell, you can pass that service plan on to the next owner.

 Just make sure you don’t smash the windscreen – the camera system integrated into the glass means a new windshield is a $3000 part!


Peugeot 20087/10

Peugeot Australia offers a now industry-standard five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty plan, which is pretty decent backing for what is a rather small operation.

The company also backs its cars with a five-year roadside assistance plan to back the warranty, not to mention a five-year capped price service plan, which it calls Service Price Promise. 

The maintenance intervals are set every 12 months/15,000km, and the costs for the first five years are not yet confirmed. They should be later in 2020, but Peugeot Australia says the pricing will be “comparable” to the existing version, which ran the following service pricing: 12 months/15,000km - $374; 24 months/30,000km - $469; 36 months/45,000km - $628; 48 months/60,000km - $473; 60 months/75,000km - $379. That averages out at $464.60 per service.

Concerned about Peugeot reliability? Quality? Ownership? Recalls? Be sure to check our Peugeot problems page for more information.