SOME car makers have a particular appeal that has helped them build up a dedicated fan base of buyers in the UK over the years and one of those is Subaru.

Looking back a few decades to the rally dominance of Colin McRae in his Impreza P1 reveals one reason but fans also love the reliable Subaru four wheel drive system and their boxer flat four engines.

Moving on to 2024 and Subaru have big plans to move out of that niche market and rival the big manufacturers with an impressive four model line-up that is set to grow dramatically with four more electric SUVs by 2028.

I was invited to an off-road driving day in deepest Yorkshire to try out all four, with particular interest in Subaru’s latest offering the Crosstrek.

With sales in the UK growing fast Subaru say the Crosstrek, launched in January from a shade over £34k, is proving to be a best seller and it is not hard to see why when you take the small SUV for a spin both on and off road.

We got to try out the higher spec £36k Touring version which proved to be a practical and rugged vehicle which drives more like a regular saloon car on road. A replacement for the XV the Crosstrek also has all the off road capability we have come to expect from Subaru.

All Crosstrek models come with a 134bhp 2.0-litre petrol mild hybrid set up that gives 0-62mph in 10.8 seconds and mpg figures of around 37.

Where the Crosstrek stands out from other family SUVs is having that genuine off-road capability. It has a generous 220mm ground clearance and an X-Mode setting which optimises the standard all-wheel-drive system over tricky surfaces at low speeds and includes hill descent control. Even on normal road tyres it can take pretty hostile terrain in its stride

Also the high seating position gives a feeling of a commanding ride like much larger SUVs. Plenty of steering wheel and seat adjustment in Touring trim is done electronically and includes adjustable lumbar support.

That high driving position means you have a good view all round and there are also front and rear cameras – which proved particularly handy on what was a challenging off road course.

The camera feed is displayed on an 11.6in central infotainment touchscreen that includes Bluetooth and DAB radio. You also get wireless smartphone mirroring which is good for running apps through the touchscreen but only the range-topping Touring gets built-in sat-nav.

Also keeping with the rugged theme all interior materials are sturdy and the car feels well put together – on the Touring version there are leather-trimmed seats and steering wheel, although the entry-level Limited gets lots of kit including 17in alloy wheels, LED headlights, rain-sensing wipers, rear privacy glass, dual-zone climate control, touchscreen infotainment and parking aids.

Touring also adds 18in wheels, high-beam assist, an electric sunroof, built-in sat-nav and an auto-dimming rear view mirror. Both have lots of safety equipment as standard.

We also got behind the wheel of Subaru’s all electric Solterra (from £52k), the hybrid Forrester (from £37k) and non-hybrid Outback (from £36k) all of which acquitted themselves well both off and on road. Watch out for more on the Subaru line up later in the year.

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By Motoring Editor Steve Howarth