Thursday, October 27, 2005

T#2: CAR style

CAR style Subaru Legacy.

Something a little different this time. We CU Auto Journs were set a task last week to write a “news” piece about a Subaru car using only a press release. My group got the Legacy; as the press release was from last year it was a brand new model launch at the time. We did the thing up as a Quark Express magazine layout, but as I can’t show you that (man, I wish I could—I spent so long tweaking the document that by the end it was beautiful. And this despite only having learnt the basics of Quark the week before…), I thought it’d be fun to mock-up a CAR magazine-style new car appraisal.

Sorry it’s not very relevant, but I did say I was going to vary the content of the Thursday entries somewhat! Oh, and no, I haven’t ever seen the proper CAR version of this—I’m not even sure if it exists. And, as I haven’t driven it, I’ve restricted myself to fair comment about the stuff that I can make a sensible point on.

So, here goes.

Bigger brother steps up
Impreza’s overshadowed sibling comes of age

Hmmm. A new Legacy. That’s like an Impreza in a sensible suit, right?

Not quite.
This is an all new car aiming to take Subaru into the sort prestige territory it’s never been to before – no muddy boots allowed.

No muddy boots? Does that mean Subaru is abandoning its rallying roots?
Not at all—all wheel drive remains across the entire range, which includes saloon and Sports Tourer estate; there’s even a new iteration of the more “off-road” Outback.
It’s just that this time, with more sophisticated styling and the promise of higher-quality interior components, the Legacy is gunning for a different kind of opposition. Less special stage, more executive express.

Ahh, zee Germans!
You’ve got it in one.
It’s not entirely convincing, though. There is a notable improvement inside the cabin, but the outside, while slick, still seems more Toyota than Teutonic. However, there are some neat details, like the Mercedes-esque indicators-in-the-mirrors, even the lowly 2.5i rolls on 17in alloys, and the bodywork swoops and bulges in a pleasing muscular way.

“Pleasingly muscular”, eh? Anything else interesting about the metalwork?
Well, Subaru are making a great fuss about newer, light-weight construction methods—saving about 55 kg per model.
There’s lots of high-strength steel, trick welding methods, and aluminium’s even used in places. The new car is also wider than the old one, with track increased front and rear, has a lower centre of gravity, and is slipperier through the air. Improvements add up to a happy increase in fuel economy—nearly bringing the Legacy in line with 2WD rivals. In addition Subaru have upped the safety levels, with more airbags, better stoppers, and driver aids such as electronic brakeforce distribution. The more expensive models get vehicle dynamics control. ABS is standard across the range.

MPG and safety equipment – is that the most exciting thing to say about it?
Far from it.
At the top of the range there’s a new 3.0 litre six-cylinder boxer engine, good for 245 PS (242 bhp) and 219 lb.ft of torque. And then there’s the spec.B.

The spec.B? Go on…
The 3.0R spec.B to give it its full title.
This is the Legacy’s new halo model, where Subaru takes the top of the range 3.0R model and throws the rally team at it. You get bigger alloys, a six-speed gearbox, and modified suspension with Bilstein dampers all round and inverted struts at the front.

And what exactly is an inverted strut?
Buggered if we know, but it’s an innovation borrowed from the Impreza WRX STi that’s claimed to improve geometry control during hard-cornering and thus boost grip and steering feel.
The STi has also donated nearly half the components in the close-ratio gearbox. So the Legacy does have a bit of nutter at the top of the tree after all. And you can even get it as a Sports Tourer version.

So worth a look?
Oh, definitely.
But whether it’s worth cancelling the deposit on the Beemer is another matter entirely. It’s subtle, inoffensively styled, and the hot ones should have decent cross-county pace—but still falls short of the premium ambitions that the company claims to have.

Picture: Subaru UK


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