Subarus aren’t quite as groovy as they used be. Back when they were called Scoobies and Richard Burns and Colin McRae had them as company cars, nothing was cooler.
Sadly, they have lost their edge over the years, and become rather forgettable. There's no replacement planned for the SVX supercar, either, which looked like the future (once) and unfortunately no one bought. So let's celebrate the wonderful and occasionally bonkers world of used Subarus.
The irony of the Legacy is that it won’t leave one. Drive one, though, and you might just start to enjoy yourself. Those characterful boxer engines, the grippy four-wheel drive system and the supple chassis make it feel like a grown-up Impreza - except that it looks like something your dad would drive to the bowls club. Equipment levels are good across the range, and although the interior is spacious it is more of a four than five-seater.
The Outback estate may be all the off-road vehicle any buyer really needs. The ability to cross a ploughed field at speed with assorted medical supplies has long been Subaru’s enduring USP. It also explained why comfortably more than 50% of Legacy sales were attributed to the estate. The Outback attempted to give the Legacy some personality, but two-tone paint and mesh covered foglights weren’t everyone’s cup of tea. Anyway, if you want attitude, buy a Forrester.
There are two sorts of Impreza: firstly, the rather ordinary non-turbo saloon and hatchback, and secondly the outrageous rally-honed turbo. Everyone forgets about the ordinary one, which does seem a little dull to look at, but it has full-time four-wheel drive and is perfect for those who tow or live at the end of a dirt track. Practicality is limited by the tight cabin, although the hatchback version helps matters.
The high performance WRX/STI is the model that everyone remembers, what with its World Rally Championship-winning reputation. It has always been great value for money with a great level of standard equipment, and always delivered tremendous performance and handling. This model is a four-door sports car, and the dull interiors and odd styling can't detract from its incredible ability.
Forester S Turbo
Sort of a hot hatchback for farmers, or a slightly less powerful Impreza WRX which lets you see over hedges. Not only that, the Forester handles nicely and is surprisingly refined. Bulletproof build and prices are starting to soften. There never seems to be a huge number around, which is a good reason to buy because it's much more exclusive than a BMW X5.
When you absolutely have to get to the supermarket for vital supplies, then the Justy is the tiny hatch to do it. Complete with a four-wheel drive system so you won’t fall off the road when it snows and you'll get to the shops before the shelves have cleared. Not very refined, plasticky inside but very tough. Zero ground clearance, but it will stay glued to the road. Not a big seller, so a challenge to find now.
So these are a few of my favourite used Scoobies. I would mostly love an SVX, but right now a Justy will have to do. What about you?