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You can use the 'route add src_range gw' command to direct your traffic from src subnet to a gateway. check the man pages of route command for the correct syntax. But I don't think you can do the actual NATing with route. Is what you are intending to do?
Iptables also work in the kernel space itself, its just the interface works on the userspace. So I don't think you can get any performance advantage by using route.
Because iptables is a software, route happens on the kernel level thus it's better.
Incorrect on so many levels. Shoe horning a software into doing something it wasn't really intended to do regardless of if it occurs natively in the kernel or through a module is less desirable even when possible. Both route and iptables have userspace interfaces... nee: /sbin/route & /sbin/iptables.