Legacy STi S402

Has subaru joined the super-saloon class with latest flier?

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

The Legacy has a small but cult UK following – owners love its involvement and 4WD stability. And the S402 is the ultimate incarnation. Subaru engineers have shown amazing attention to detail, and turned the standard car into a brilliant driving machine. It’s fast, fun and good looking. For the pace it offers, it’s also reasonably good value. If only top brass could be persuaded to bring it here.

Think of hot Subarus, and the Impreza WRX and STi spring to mind. But the firm has another performance car up its sleeve. This is the S402 – a fitting farewell to the Legacy saloon, which will be replaced next year.

Modified by the STi rally arm (it stands for Subaru Tecnica International), the car is designed to be the fastest, best-handling Legacy ever. And engineers have left no stone unturned.

At the front there’s a unique mesh grille, while the flared arches are 20mm wider than the standard car’s. The wheels are larger and wear 235/40 R18 Bridgestone Potenza tyres. Air vents, a rear spoiler and S402 logos complete the upgrades.

Sourced from the Impreza, the 2.5-litre flat-four boxer gets a new turbo and ECU, increased boost pressure and uprated exhaust. It delivers 282bhp and 392Nm of torque. The engine is mated to a modified Impreza STi six-speed manual box, and the firm says it’s punchier and more flexible than a standard Legacy.

The S402’s suspension has been honed at the Nürburgring in Germany. It has STi-tuned dampers and springs, new anti-roll bars and a quicker steering rack, plus six-piston Brembo brakes with larger discs.

Even in town, throttle, steering and brake responses are instant. There’s lots of low-rev thrust, and the engine sounds amazing as it soars to the red line. What’s more, this Legacy is nearly as fast as the lighter Impreza STi.

In corners, the 4WD grips hard, body roll is minimal and the steering super-sharp. The brakes are incredible too, offering huge stopping power and lots of feel.

It’s just a pity the leather seats aren’t more supportive. Cabin quality could be better, too.

Officially, the Legacy S402 won’t be available in the UK. It can be imported, although it’s likely to cost around £37,500.

Rival: BMW M3 saloon In many ways, the saloon is the best M3. It’s more practical than the Coupé or Convertible, but performs just as well. The 400bhp V8 gives it the measure of the S402, although the BMW costs far more, at £49,900.

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