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New Legacy is bigger and brighter, but not necessarily better

Our Verdict

Subaru Legacy

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

2 June 2009
Subaru Legacy 2.5i 5dr Estate

The Subaru Legacy, one of Japan’s quiet achievers, is getting a makeover. New looks, a bigger body and a brighter cabin feature on this fifth generation of the car, due in the UK this autumn.

The UK won’t be getting the Legacy saloon this time, nor the 2.5 turbo, just as Japan loses out on Subaru’s 2.0-litre Boxer diesel, which will be updated to Euro 5 trim when this new Legacy lands in Europe.

Still, the car you see here and which we drove in Japan, the Touring Wagon with a 2.5-litre normally aspirated engine and the Legacy’s first CVT transmission, will be more or less present everywhere.

What’s it like?

It show straight away how the Legacy has matured, becoming more comfortable and refined. This is the biggest Legacy yet, but CO2 and economy are on a par, if not better, than the outgoing car’s.

For the keen driver, though, it’s a less involving machine to punt around, with softer reactions, plenty of body roll and only moderate speed on tap with the CVT in tow.

The contrived new styling will divide opinion too. Inside, the news is good; you get big, comfy seats, a fine driving position, more space and (another Legacy first) an eco gauge to help you save fuel. As ever, the Legacy is a practical, capable hi-tech car and that can haul an awful lot of stuff around.

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The new combo of improved 2.5-litre flat four and Lineartronic CVT makes the Legacy a mechanically sweet machine. It’s a seamless drivetrain, complete with steering wheel paddles and a manual mode.

By the same token, it feels sluggish low down, and you feel the six-speed manual shift (that will be offered with the 2.5 in the UK) will liberate more top-end punch.

Once you get used to the degrees of body lean and the need to wind on lock, the Legacy can attack corners with aplomb, and its four-wheel drive grip and traction are never in dispute. Steering, while consistent and accurate, is short on centre sharpness, but braking is superb: strong and powerful, and with good fade resistance.

In the Japanese range this model version gets trick dampers and 18-inch tyres. Bump absorption on less-than-perfect roads is quite harsh, so we’d tick the box marked 17in or 16in for a more supple ride.

Should I buy one?

Subaru has moved its own goalposts with the new Legacy, which feels as if it’s moved up a class, but we fear that it has lost something in the process. We’ll have to wait to try a Boxer diesel in Europe to get a full handle on Subaru’s revamped flagship.

Peter Nunn

Join the debate


4 June 2009

I'm not sure who Subaru has in mind when it styles cars these days, but it's not me. I much prefer the look of the old car. To me, this looks dumpy and disjointed. More like some North Korean bargain basement effort than a quality car.

4 June 2009

Yeah I don't like the new look either...

4 June 2009

Well I know they don't do it in Germany- so I'm not worried about their designers/corporate heads; but, in Japan they do not play with abject failure. I fear subaru is headed in that direction and I hope the execs don't take it too hard. JL

4 June 2009

If I had the time to spare I'd search for the online dictionary where the input "Subaru" elicits the definition, "Ugly and poorly proportioned". It must exist, probably more than one site too.

4 June 2009

Definitiely deserves the title "Lost In Translation"

4 June 2009

Just none of the grace of the current car. Those wheel-arches are just... vile. The wheel housings themselves are huge so anything less than an 18inch alloy is going to look tiny and the whole vehicle under-wheeled. The front is fussier and more upright, though I'm sure the latter is to do with pedestrian rules.

I also can't stand the current obsession with white cars... ugh.

4 June 2009

Subaru have been heading in the wrong direction styling wise (several wrong directions?) for quite some time.

4 June 2009

[quote theonlydt]The front is fussier and more upright[/quote]

Spot on, the front looks like the recently departed Vectra. It ends up looking too narrow and overweight. Not at all like the current handsome Legacy.

4 June 2009

This is designed to appeal to the americans, they take the vast majority of Subaru`s and this will suit them to a "T". not sure european opinion accounts for much on this one.

For what its worth its not too pig ugly and as mentioned above it looks pretty much like the old vectra - i suspect it will look better in the metal as i think the Impreza does.

4 June 2009

I will be keeping mine for some considerable time if this is what they have come up with.


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