Running enthusiast Dan Morgan is covered, from head to toe, in mud. If it weren’t for the bright orange T-shirt beneath his muck-spattered training vest, he would blend into the Devon landscape like a well-camouflaged deer as he scampers across the heathland.
But blending in isn’t exactly Mr Morgan’s way. The ambulance technician from Torquay is one of life’s go-getters – a man who sets himself challenges daily and doesn’t rest until he has achieved them.
That’s why he competed in last year’s L’Étape du Tour, a 142km cycle race that gives amateurs a chance to test their mettle on a mountain section used in the Tour de France, where 40C temperatures are one of many trials to overcome.
It is also why he regularly runs in The Grizzly. This 20-mile cross-country course along the undulating clifftops of east Devon attracts a mix of elite and enthusiast runners, and is famed locally as a major feat of endurance.
“I think of myself as just getting into running, really,” says Mr Morgan modestly. “But I suppose I’ve competed in a fair number of events, most of which are in out-of-the-way places that seem impossible to reach.”
This is precisely why Mr Morgan admires Subaru’s Outback, XV and Forester. Each car draws on the manufacturer’s heritage of building rugged go-anywhere vehicles that use Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive to deliver optimum grip, no matter where you travel.
With the X-Mode off-road setting, available on Forester and Outback Lineartronic derivatives, it’s even easier to tackle tough terrain.
When selected, this controls the car’s braking and acceleration, ensuring the appropriate power delivery to maximise traction, and therefore control, allowing the driver to concentrate on the steering in demanding conditions.
“The all-terrain capability of Subaru’s cars is a major appeal to me,” Mr Morgan says. “Having a car that I know can cope off-road, or in adverse weather conditions, makes a real difference to my lifestyle.”
Alongside that, the exercise addict is conscious of the need to maintain a decent long-distance performance from his vehicle, not least when travelling with his wife and young son.
“If we go away on holiday, I need a car that’s spacious and comfortable,” he says. “Subaru’s vehicles tick all of those boxes, because they’re well appointed, with great equipment levels and loads of room. They offer a great environment in which to cover big mileages.”
Confidence to compete
Subaru’s appeal to Mr Morgan, as a keen motorsport enthusiast, isn’t only about comfort and practicality, of course. He appreciates the manufacturer’s world-beating rally heritage, and is impressed by the on-road handling of its cars.
He is also reassured by Subaru’s safety credentials, with the Forester, Outback and XV scoring the maximum five stars in Euro NCAP crash tests.
Safety features such as EyeSight, available on Lineartronic models of the Outback, bring extra peace of mind.
This monitors the road ahead, and warns the driver if an obstacle is detected before applying the brakes if they fail to react.
EyeSight was highly commended at last year’s Car Tech awards for best safety innovation in the over £25,000 category.
“In my view, features like this make the difference between a good car and a great car,” he says. “For my lifestyle, Subaru’s models make a lot of sense, because they offer what I’m looking for from a vehicle, with a good sprinkling of driver pleasure. Any vehicle in the range would get me where I need to be for training and competitions. They’re completely at ease when conditions become tough away from the asphalt.”
This final attribute is something the cars share with Mr Morgan himself. Indeed, when the mud-caked man and mucky machines finally come to rest on the rain-swept moor, it looks very much like a match made in heaven. Or Devon, at any rate.