The Legacy 2.5X sits in the middle of the range with the 2.5i Sport at the bottom and the GT Premium at the top. Safety is an ever-increasing buying factor and the 2.5X has the full complement of offerings from Subaru.
The two models beneath it don’t get Subaru’s EyeSight preventative safety technology, while the two models above add Subaru Intelligent Drive (SI-Drive) which allows you to adjust driving dynamics and throttle response.
Having owned a couple of Subarus in the past (one 1991 Legacy RS-RA and one 1996 WRX STI Type R) and being a definite advocate of the brand, it’s very noticeable to me how the character of the vehicles has changed.
Subarus used to have an aura, a sound and a driving manner all of their own; I liked it. Now, the Legacy just feels like any old large sedan that has lost its ‘Subaruness’, albeit a large sedan that rides exceptionally well. Some people might say this is good, though, because they have shed the boy racer image.
I took three people from Auckland to Piha and back. The original surveyors didn’t bother to make the road straight, so it was an excellent test of how well the Legacy coped with bumpy, winding roads, and the effect it can have on passengers. It received a glowing report, especially from the back seat passengers who said it felt stable and confident on the road, and that there was plenty of legroom. Of course, I’ll take credit for being the driver…!
It is smooth to drive, partly due to the suspension’s competence and partly because the acceleration is anaemic at best therefore you can’t rocket out the corners. To get it moving off the line you have to bury your foot into the carpet. Don’t think that you can sprint across a busy road between a small gap in traffic, because it’s ponderous off the line; if you use the sequential manual it does feel slightly perkier. It has better acceleration once you’re up and running.
It’s not satisfactory on an auditory level, either, because the CVT gearbox attempts to ‘learn’ your driving style, but learns really quickly. Put your foot down a couple of times because you need the grunt, and it then has a tendency to hold the revs high for a while. Fortunately there are paddles on the steering wheel that allow you to change up and down.
Because the engine is a little lacking in the cojones department (127kW and 235Nm), you’ll be using more throttle which puts at jeopardy the 8l/100km quoted fuel economy. If you want a faster Legacy (and you probably will), the next model up, the 3.6X has 191kW and 350Nm and is significantly quicker to 100kph (7.3 seconds vs. 9.8 seconds). The top model is the GT Premium which adds a turbocharger to the 2.5-litre engine to give you 195kW and 350Nm with a 0-100kph time of 6.2 seconds.
Park this Legacy next to a 1991 model and you’ll notice how chunky and tall it looks – sort of like it could turn into a Transformers robot. This is because the X models have 50mm extra ground clearance (200mm), so it’s basically an Outback in sedan form, which is useful for rural users. It’s not particularly pretty from any angle, but that’s never been Subaru’s strength. What is does have is safety features galore.
The EyeSight system comprises two cameras mounted either side of the rear-view mirror that scans ahead for obstacles and also your lane position. It is remarkably effective at detecting potential obstructions and will perform an emergency stop if it detects you are going to have a crash.
I tested this using the gate to my apartment building. I waited until the gate was above bonnet height and tried to drive forward. The Legacy performed an emergency stop as well as audibly and visibly warning me on the dashboard.
The lane departure warning can be a little intrusive around town; with the plethora of road markings in some places it warns you unnecessarily. You can turn this off using the button located between the EyeSight cameras.
Being a Subaru it comes with full-time all-wheel drive (Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive), and it has Subaru’s standard Vehicle Dynamics Control system (VDC) which features electronic stability control (ESC), anti-lock braking system (ABS), electronic brakeforce distribution (EBD), brake assist, traction control system (TCS) and a limited slip differential.
It will hold itself on a hill to stop you rolling back, and it comes with a reversing camera that displays on the 8-inch touchscreen in the centre dash area. With seven air bags and seatbelt pretensioners, it scores a 5-star ANCAP crash rating.
This is an excellent car to be driven in because it’s comfortable and feels solid on the road, despite having that extra ground clearance. As a driver’s car it’s OK, but the engine is a bit lethargic. Of course, there are the two models above this 2.5X which solve this problem, and they get extra features.
My pick would be that if you value the driving experience at all you should go the extra three grand if possible and get the 3.6 for $57,990.
There’s plenty of room and enough toys to play with (satellite navigation, Bluetooth phone integration and audio streaming, heated seats, dual zone climate control, rain-sensing wipers, automatic lights and keyless entry). The safety features are what sets it apart from many of the larger sedans on the market. If our insurance companies gave a discount for systems like EyeSight and Volvo’s City Safety, cars equipped with those features would sell significantly more.
- EyeSight technology
- Passenger comfort
- Lethargic acceleration
- Average looks
Words and photos: Darren Cottingham