From £21,865
Despite a classier interior and the usual brilliant chassis, latest Legacy hampered by standard auto and lack of diesel option
Autocar
23 September 2003

In Japan and America, Subaru’s Legacy is not only a brand leader, but a sales success. Meanwhile, here, even enthusiasts struggle when confronted with the Legacy name, with vague notions of a rare, if fine- handling car, usually seen in estate form.

This Legacy is all new, and in 3.0R guise, matches a six-cylinder boxer engine developing 241bhp to a five-speed auto ’box with Tiptronic function. Available in either saloon or estate bodystyles (a ‘crossover’ Outback will also be available), it goes on sale in November at an estimated £25,000-£26,000.

Previously, saloons have only taken 15 per cent of Legacy sales, but Subaru is looking to double that figure with this latest incarnation.

On the road, it feels solid, both in terms of structural stiffness and in the even weighting of its controls. The steering, reassuringly weighty around the straight-ahead, lightens up at speed but communicates well through the slim Momo rim.

There’s little roll and plenty of grip, and the Legacy makes rapid, fuss-free progress with the usual excellent ride, which is firmly controlled but absorbent, although this was judged on smooth roads.

Equal-length manifolds mean the boxer six is robbed of its famous warble, but it’s impressively smooth and revs freely to the red line.

But it doesn’t feel quick – blame the muddling auto and the low mileage of the test car – and 241bhp seems optimistic. In an age of excellent six-speed autos, Subaru’s new five-speeder feels outdated. Changes are slow and at times jerky, and the ’box is often indecisive.

This interior is a major improvement on the old model’s, though. Plastics are well chosen and the interior ambience has a quality, if derivative, feel. It’s just a shame that the exterior is so anonymous.

With a manual ’box, diesel engines and a halo twin-turbo model still some way off, the Legacy looks set to remain a rare sight. For such a good car, that’s a real shame.

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Adam Towler

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