The new model is much bigger than the outgoing one
The diesel is more than willing to be revved
It's cavernous and comfortable, but a sterile drive
No saloon model will be made available in the UK
The electric power steering has an inconsistent speed and weighting
The boot can handle an impressive 526 litres minimum
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.