Subaru Legacy (2002-2009) review
The Legacy has been around for years but buyers have rarely paid it much attention. That should change with this model which made its debut in 2003, it being a worthy rival for models like BMW's ubiquitous 3 Series. Offered in either saloon or estate format, all models come as standard with four-wheel-drive, ensuring handling is exceptional. It corners with composure and gives the driver plenty of confidence thanks to high reserves of grip; what's more, it adopts the same neutral attitude no matter how slippery the road surface. Yet such prowess does not come either at the expense of ride quality, which is smooth, nor fuel economy, which is excellent. The standard 2.0-litre Legacy achieves 37.2mpg on the combined cycle, bettering many two-wheel-drive rivals. Co2 figures are similarly strong.
All engines are horizontally-opposed 'boxer' units. Standard four-cylinder 2.0-litre and 2.5-litre derivatives may lack a little low-down pull but are punchy and silky-smooth at high revs, as well as sounding 'expensive'. The 3.0-litre range-topper uses six cylinders to produce 241bhp, and performs very well, especially in the Spec B performance orientated model with its STI Impreza derived manual six-speed transmission. Although the exterior styling is neat it's not 'stand-out', though the sporty cabin is excellent; good-looking, roomy and very high quality. 'Sports Tourer' estates add a decent boot, while Outback models raise the ride height to provide decent off-road ability - there's even a low-ratio gearbox on manual-gearbox variants. Overall, the new Legacy deserves a closer look, particularly as pricing matches Mondeo-sector models and seriously undercuts the BMW 3 Series it is, in many ways, more than a match for.