Subaru Legacy

25 Jun, 2010 1:05pm Pete Gibson
THE Subaru’s 2.0-litre diesel engine is a real highlight. Despite the Legacy’s four-wheel-drive system it still managed to average 40mpg, and it’s both smooth and punchy. But while rivals are available with more power, the flat-four is limited to 148bhp and the six-speed manual is notchy.
IN range-topping SE trim, the Legacy suffers from a firm ride. The mix of big 18-inch alloys and stiffer dampers means the estate can crash into potholes and shudder over motorway expansion joints. On the plus side, body control is excellent and the Subaru is agile in corners.

Our Legacy is about to gallop off into the sunset after eight months. Has it proven a thoroughbred with us?

Take a look at the picture on the left, and you’ll find it almost impossible not to make a quip about me trying out alternative forms of horsepower!

However, there is a serious reason why our long-term Subaru Legacy is parked up alongside this four-legged thoroughbred. In an effort to push the brand upmarket, the Japanese firm has been sponsoring Britain’s high-profile showjumping and eventing championships. So, for its last photographic assignment  before it leaves the Auto Express fleet, I took our versatile estate to meet one of the UK’s up-and coming eventers, Emily Llewelyn.

Not only is the 20-year-old one of our brightest hopes for London’s 2012 Olympic Games, but she’s also a brand ambassador for Subaru. However, after more than six months behind the wheel of our Legacy, I don’t need any further persuasion from Emily about the benefits of owning one of the firm’s cars. Practical, reliable and spacious, the four-wheel-drive Subaru has become as essential to my job as a zoom lens and tripod. I’ve even come to like the car’s bold looks.

With its distinctive swept-back headlamps and prominent bonnet scoop, the Legacy certainly stands out from the crowd. Inside, the build quality has really impressed.

Despite being used as a photographer’s workhorse – and an occasional removal van by my colleagues – the Subaru’s cabin is still in top condition. If only the dashboard design didn’t look so dated. The Sport Tourer also scores full marks for reliability, as the diesel-engined estate has barely missed a beat.

The oil level warning light came on just before its first service was due, so I dropped the car into AMC Chelmsford, Essex, for a routine service. Friendly and helpful staff greeted me, while the bill came to a reasonable £218. Better still, after its health check, the flat-four unit felt
as smooth and eager as ever.

The only real saga was the stone-chipped windscreen. Supply issues meant that it took a few weeks to source new glass, after it was cracked by a stray stone. Autoglass in Chelmsford eventually got hold of a replacement, fitting it in an hour or so at a cost of £470.

However, even this niggle failed to detract from my time with the Subaru. It takes a little getting used to, but it’s not long before the characterful Legacy gets under your skin. Its huge boot swallows everything, and the four-wheel drive was a big bonus in the winter weather.

It may have been outclassed by the Skoda Superb and Ford Mondeo in a recent group test. But if you want an alternative, no-nonsense family estate with go-anywhere ability, you should trot down to your Subaru dealer.

Extra Info

“Four-wheel-drive family estates are back in vogue, so now Subaru faces competition
from Skoda, Vauxhall and Volkswagen, to name but a few.”
Ross Pinnock
Road test editor

Key specs

  • On fleet since: Nov 2009
  • Price when new: £28,070
  • Mileage: 6,806
  • Engine / Power: 2.0-litre 4cyl/ 148bhp
  • Trade-in value now: N/A
  • Insurance Group / Quote: 21/£844
  • Costs: Replacement windscreen (£470), service (£218)
  • Any problems?: Tailgate sometimes doesn’t latch. Delay in sourcing new windscreen
  • Equipment: Metallic paint (£415)