From £21,865
Fit for purpose, but it's far from being the most fun estate to drive

Our Verdict

Subaru Legacy
Estate-only Legacy puts emphasis on space and comfort

As a true workhorse, there are few better than the Subaru Legacy. As an everyday estate, there are loads better.

29 September 2009

What is it?

This is the new Subaru Legacy Tourer, complete with the Japanese company’s recent 2.0-litre boxer diesel.

Subaru has taken a different direction with the new Legacy, creating the all-new car from the inside out to offer more space and comfort. The result is a much bigger car than the previous Legacy Tourer, and a distinct lack of the underlying rally-bred performance that attracted many buyers sought out in Subaru’s utilitarian load lugger.

The clearest indicator of the company’s shift in priority is the lack of the iconic Legacy Spec-B. Instead there are only two engine options – this 148bhp boxer turbodiesel driven through a six-speed manual transmission, and a naturally aspirated 165bhp 2.5-litre petrol boxer engine that is mated to a continuously variable automatic ‘box.

Don’t look for a Legacy saloon in the range either. Always a niche choice, the slow-selling saloon is another victim of the narrowing range and altering brand targets at Subaru.

What’s it like?

Cavernous and comfortable, but a sterile drive.

The new Subaru Legacy is a direct rival to the Volvo V70 and the forthcoming Skoda Superb estate, and it now has the interior space to be a viable alternative. There is acres of rear leg and elbow room, plus two cosy, reclining seats that provide limousine-like comfort. A third rear passenger will have plenty of space on short journeys, though won’t benefit from much lateral support nor a sculpted seat.

The squared-off boot area, flat load bay and a minimum 526 litres of luggage space is practical enough but is a long way off class best, with both the Volvo V70 and the current Superb hatch beating it on boot space.

Those in the front get equally impressive levels of space, and a dash that is far superior in build quality and layout to the Impreza and Forester, but still wants for aesthetic interest and the high-quality materials you expect of a car commanding this price.

Unfortunately the Legacy has forgone any hint of performance credentials and driver involvement for the sake of its more laid-back driving attitude and soft, cushioning ride quality.

The electric power steering offers no sense of connection, and has an inconsistent speed and weighting that can result in unexpectedly sharp responses from small steering inputs at high speeds in comparison to the big inputs that are needed at low speeds.

Permanent four-wheel drive and a well set-up chassis ensure decent levels of grip, and the familiar 2.0-litre boxer diesel offers enough acceleration and flexibility to make this the better drive over the lazy petrol-engined Legacy.

Unfortunately clunky, notchy gearshift conspires to lessen the enjoyment you could get from the boxer engine, which is happy to rev but needs to be worked through the gears.

Should I buy one?

If you’re won over by the new Legacy’s level of comfort and space, plus its reputation for reliability and an appealing rarity factor, there’s no reason not to.

But the Legacy isn’t a cheap car, and there are rivals that prove you don’t need to exclude all driver involvement merely because the model’s primary purpose is a utilitarian one. All of these are likely to be a more rewarding car to own.

Join the debate

Comments
14

29 September 2009

Jesus, that looks like an Accord that has had its face pulled backwards like the bug guy in MIB.

Where has all Japanese design went to?

29 September 2009

"Fit for purpose, but it's far from being the most fun estate to drive"

do people who go for a subaru legacy diesel tourer want it to be fun to drive? I can't believe that is the headline autocar have given for a review of this car

29 September 2009

Can't see Subaru making it through the recession with mediocre products like this.

29 September 2009

[quote blowerbentley]mediocre[/quote]?

It's awful! What made them think they could get away with that?

30 September 2009

Tragic.

30 September 2009

[quote SpecB]Tragic.[/quote]

My sister who has had 17 Subarus including a current 3.0 RB (I think that is what it is called) with about 200,000 on the clock. When she saw this atthe dealer and told him that she was not interested in driving something that "the cat had bought up". Take note Subaru. Mazda nearly died in the late 90s when they replaced an interesting range of cars with an incredibly boring one.

30 September 2009

The range seems to be determined by Subaru UK. Here in Switerzerland (where Subaru's are very popular, especially in rural areas) we get both 4 and 5 doors and a 2.5GT (in both bodies) with the 265 hp / 350NM 2.5l turbo. The Outback uses the 3.6l flat 6. But it seems from what is written that power is the least of the new car's issues. Subaru seem to be going more mainstream and as a result I for one am less likely to make one the next purchase, though I've been a happy owner for many years and love the service from my local dealer. As well as Mazda I think of Saab. Luckily my Forrester turbo that we bought 6 years ago still seems to have many years left in it.... or how about that unregistered 3 litre last model that's now had 15% taken off the price.

30 September 2009

It's sad, sad, sad...

Pye

30 September 2009

Just moved into a house with a very steep and narrow track leading to it which will be hell in winter. Always fancied the Outback version of one of these as the “alternative” family run-around. But whilst the previous model was no looker this is so wide of the mark as to be unbelievable. Can’t see me visiting the local Subaru garage anytime soon.

30 September 2009

Between this new Legacy and the current Impreza, are Subaru trying to alienate their loyal UK customer base ?

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