With unmistakable good looks and bags of road presence, wheelworldreviews.co.uk editor DAVID HOOPER is impressed with Subaru’s new Legacy Tourer.
I HAVE been a fan of the Subaru brand for as long as I can remember. Like many petrol heads, watching the rallying Imprezas battle for dominance on the world stage created a lasting impression.
Colin McRae and Richard Burns were two of my heroes and I know I’m not alone in saying that they are both sadly missed in the world of motorsport. Two British drivers at the top of their game who not only boosted the profile of rallying in the UK, but also that of Subaru itself, creating a loyal band of die-hard fans.
Times move on though, the classic four-door saloon upon which the rally cars were based is no more, having been replaced by a five-door hatchback, which it is fair to say hasn’t enjoyed the success the company hoped it would. Perhaps this is why a new saloon has recently joined the current Impreza line-up.
Its big brother is the Legacy, and in estate form, has long been another of my favourites for its under-rated performance potential, sporty styling, all-wheel-drive surefooted ability and of course, the glorious Boxer engine which makes such a distinctive sound.
In October last year, a new Legacy was launched, built on an all-new platform with substantially larger proportions. Its unitary body design helped it achieve a five-star Euro Ncap crash test safety rating, and endows it with a solid platform which provides excellent handing and enjoyable performance.
Bigger than its predecessor, its wheelbase has grown by 80mm. The car has imposing good looks and is unmistakably a Subaru, thanks to its trademark air intake which still sits squarely in the middle of the bonnet. While it’s true that it’s not as large as it used to be, it’s still there and adds to the feeling of sportiness you get from behind wheel. The Legacy has an abundance of road presence, thanks to its slightly raised ride height and classically aggressive styling.
My test car looked superb with its satin white paintwork which had a pearlescent look to it. This lovely colour contrasted perfectly with the dark-tinted windows at the back of the car and the smart alloy wheels which really set it off a treat.
Inside the car was beautifully appointed with comfortable leather seats and a good inventory of standard equipment. Just about everything is electrically operated, and I liked the fact that it came with dual-zone climate control and a sunroof, which can still be something of a rarity – and yes, I did use the sunroof and enjoyed doing so. There heated seats also had a memory function and the door mirrors fold in at the touch of a button – handy if you have to park on the street. The model I tested also came with keyless entry and start, which means you never need to take your car key out of your jacket, or handbag. You just press a button to start the car.
The interior plastics in the previous generation car felt a bit on the cheap side, and at first glance, I thought this new model featured soft-touch mouldings on the top of the dashboard, but a quick scrape with the fingernails revealed they are still of the hard variety, but they look fine and there were no squeaks or rattles in evidence.
The centre console is dominated by a new full-colour satellite navigation system which comes as standard. It’s a touch-screen system which not only controls the CD and DVD playback, but includes a Bluetooth hands-free system and steering wheel mounted controls.
At the back of the car, the boot is a very good size, and I liked the one-touch seat folding system. Simply pull a lever on the side of the load area and the rear seats fold themselves flat, creating a generous load space.
Subaru were slow in bringing a diesel engine to market, but when they did, it was worth the wait, as the company stuck to its trademark Boxer design, giving its diesel-powered offerings the benefits of the lightweight construction and low centre of gravity. It also means you get that “Subaru” noise, the distinctive grumbly engine note which is still audible in the diesel engine.
Permanent four-wheel-drive is also standard, with the symmetrical system providing sure-footed traction in all driving conditions, making the Legacy an inherently safe choice when the road conditions are less than perfect. They also make good tow cars, perfect for extracting caravans from boggy sites, or recovering boats up slimey slipways.
It’s a great car to drive too, The driving position is slightly raised providing a great vantage point, but I particularly like the feel of the car. The suspension set-up is compliant and very comfortable, yet the car handles beautifully. Turn into a corner and there’s a small amount of body roll before the car settles into the corner, but rapid changes of direction do nothing to unsettle it and it’s great fun to punt around your favourite bits of road.
The 150PS engine and six-speed manual gearbox are a good combination, but the top two gears are quite high, which means it is only just happy in fourth around town. It’s not the fastest or the most economical engine on the market, but you can forgive it a lot for the addictive sound it makes, and it has enough mid-range punch to keep most drivers happy. If you don’t want to change gear, a CVT gearbox is also available.
A new entry level model was added to the range in April, so you can now have a Legacy for just under £22,000 – which represents excellent value for money.
A Legacy may not be at the top of everyone’s wish list, with more mainstream cars coming to mind first when you consider potential estate car choices, but I would recommend you seek out a dealer, and give it a good test drive. I suspect you will be impressed.
THE VITAL STATISTICS
MODEL: Subaru Legacy Tourer 2.0D SE 5dr.
SUBARU LEGACY TOURER RANGE: From 2.0i ES 5dr (£21,995) to 2.5i SE Lineartronic 5dr (£27,075).
ENGINE: 1998cc, 150bhp four-cylinder engine, driving four wheels through 6-speed manual gearbox.
CO2 EMISSIONS: 168g/km.
PERFORMANCE: Top speed 120mph. 0-62mph in 9.6 secs.
ECONOMY: City: 35.8mpg.
Fuel tank: 65 litres.
INSURANCE: Group 21.
WARRANTY: 3 years/60,000.
• All data correct at time of publication.