Monday, 27 July 2020 08:52

X marks the spot

Written by  Mark Daniel
Subaru's Limited Edition Outback X. Subaru's Limited Edition Outback X.

While many car manufacturers set out to cater for all sectors of the market, it’s fair to say that Subaru has “stuck to its knitting”.

Subaru is pushing the line of Symmetrical Four-Wheel Drive and a low-slung Boxer engine. 

Favoured by the outdoor types, the brand also has a strong and loyal following from those living or working in the rural sector.

The Outback, now in its fifth generation, is still Subaru NZ’s most popular seller. So, the introduction of the limited edition “X” for 2020, is likely to reinforce that position. 

Pitched between the 2.5 Sport and the range topping 2.5 Premium, the Outback X takes most of its spec from the latter – except for leather upholstery. In their place are water repellent fabric seats, that should prove ideal for those outdoor/rural types, who arrive back at the vehicle complete with wet or muddy clothing. 

In addition, the new arrival also features Dual X Mode four-wheel drive. This builds on the staple of automatic adaption of engine output, throttle, torque distribution and braking to aid traction. All this is geared to further improve performance in deep mud or snow, should the user want to wander beyond the berms of Jaffaland.

Living with the Outback X for a wet and windy week in a wintery Waikato, the vehicle imparts a sense of safety. However, it also proved to be exceptionally sure-footed on both sealed and gravel surfaces. 

Add in the excellent EyeSight safety suite, that looks after lane change warnings, blind spot detection, adaptive headlight control and side-view cameras, then you feel very secure. Point it where you want to go – then it goes there. So, don’t listen to those urban journo’s who mumble… “it certainly doesn’t corner like a Porsche.”

Powered by the well-known, 2.5 litre flat four Boxer engine, the Outback won’t break any performance records. However, with 129kW and 235 Nm on tap, it readily gets on with the job. 

Mated to Subaru’s Lineartrionic Transmission (SLT) – the company’s take on a CVT, but with chain rather than belt drive. The engine needs a “good poke” to get things happening, but once moving sees a smooth transition as speed builds and proves very easy to live with. 

Helping drivers get in the right frame of mind, the SI drive function allows the choice of Normal, or a more aggressive Sport setting for throttle response to suit terrain or conditions.

In the cabin, the cloth seats offer plenty of adjustment, even for those that are longer or have a wider beam. It proves to be comfortable on a longer run and supportive in more rural situations. Fit and finish is right up there with nicely placed controls. An 8-inch, touch screen, colour monitor takes care of settings, sounds and navigation – with the seemingly obligatory Apple Car Play and Android Auto also installed.

Outwardly, a range of subdued colours are given a bit of bling with some lurid green badging, that is countered by blacked out 18-inch alloys, grille and wing mirrors. 

Access is SUV-like, helped by a 213mm ground clearance. 

The stand-out for any switched-on buyer is the high level of standard equipment that includes Satnav, electric sunroof, a power tailgate smart key – and a “must” for any outdoorsman or woman looking for adventure – a set of roof bars.

www.subaru.co.nz

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Lely offerings for the future

Dutch robotic specialist Lely launched a new farm management application called Horizon at its recent Future Farm Days 2020.

Designed to connect data from a range of on-farm equipment and suppliers into one management system, it creates a real-time decision-support platform, to make the farmer’s life easier, the herd healthier and the farm more profitable, says Lely.

Developed over a 24-month period, with over 100 test farmers in seven countries, working with 75 engineers, designers, farm management advisors, veterinarians and AI specialists, the new application will eventually replace the current Lely T4C management system. It uses smart algorithms and the cloud to deliver data that is processed into actionable information that is always accessible on any device in a user-friendly way.

Lely claims the Horizon application unburdens farmers from routine decision making and helps them optimise their workloads, using integrated routines based on easily scheduled cow ‘touches’, create logical and more efficient workflows. It is also possible to assign a certain task to an employee and to schedule a time slot for the cow touch, rather than analysing different reports and filtering long lists.

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To ensure full support in the migration to Lely Horizon, existing Lely T4C customers will be personally informed by their Lely Center before the end of 2020.

The migration is planned in a phased approach, from country to country, over the year 2021.

Also launched at the event, Lely Exos is an autonomous concept for harvesting and feeding fresh grass to the herd.

The company suggests that feeding fresh grass makes better use of available roughage, suggesting “fresh” has between 10 and 20% more nutritional value than grass silage, as there are minimal losses typically seen during mowing, tedding, raking, harvesting and feeding.

Lely suggests that feeding fresh grass over an extended season reduces the amount of silage that has to be conserved, reduces the need for concentrates and bought-in feed and increase the margin made on each litre of milk produced.

Based around an all-electric vehicle that mows and feeds, Exos is light weight and uses soil friendly technology, that can be exploited throughout the growing season. Design to work 24/7 as feed requirements change, the system places no constraints on labour or time, while it is also designed to work in tandem with the Lely Vector automatic feeding systems.

In operation, Exos also collects field data as it goes about its job, giving framers live data on grass supply and lending itself to a further concept of delivering a targeted liquid fertiliser as it passes over a harvested area.

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