The Subaru Legacy is a favourite with our Southern Hemisphere buddies over in Australia and New Zealand but it has never really made much headway here. The new model has sneaked its way onto the local scene with a solo offering that promises emotional and rational appeal. We got to grips with the Legacy during the course of a week long test of this middleweight sedan.
The New BitsThe design, for starters, is more appealing. It’s good looking with the raked front windscreen, strong front grille and the familiar but well suited hawkeye lights. It mixes aggressive and stylish well. The engine under the bonnet remains the same but is dialled towards better efficiency.
The interior has had an overhaul in order to meet buyers who need something easier on the eye but still durable and spacious. There’s a more rigid chassis beneath the Legacy body to improve handling and all-wheel drive remains key to the Subaru Legacy’s offering.
Boxer EngineThe familiar 3.6-Litre, six-cylinder boxer engine retains its place under the bonnet and Subaru says the fuel economy has been improved. It claims you’ll achieve around 9.9L/100km if you don’t use all of the 191 kW and 350 Nm of torque at once. You’ll want to use the throttle though as the engine is quick to respond and feels fluid as it continues through its CVT "gear ratios". The shifts are hardly noticeable when driving normally and even when you push on, the familiar CVT drone isn’t nearly as much of a kill-joy as CVT gearboxes can be.
There’s even a set of paddles behind the steering wheel should you want to do the shifting yourself, although it doesn’t feel as enthralling as a regular auto or dual clutch that gives you a solid wallop when you flick the paddle. Continuing the sporty theme, the Legacy comes with several engine modes that increase the ferocity with which it delivers its power. The modes are accessed via buttons on the steering wheel labelled [S] and [I].
Improved InteriorInteriors in Subarus have always leaned towards functional and durable rather than eye-catching and stylish but this Legacy’s innards seem to have blended the two quite nicely. Leather is used widely throughout the interior in places such as the gear lever, steering wheel and seats. The seats are also electrically adjustable with two memory settings.
It’s got most of the modern gadgets like a USB and Aux port, Bluetooth and a great 6.2-inch infotainment system. The system is particularly responsive to touch and fast thinking, and it also harvests a high-resolution rear-view camera with parking sensors. The buttons on the centre dash for the dual zone climate control and digital readout from the instrument binnacle might not be as fancy as some of the German brands but they get the job done and deliver the same information. The cabin is spacious and occupants have plenty of room both in the front and rear whilst the boot is huge at 506-Litres. The rear seats also fold neatly flat if you need to load longer items.
Safety has been taken care of and the Legacy boasts a five-star ANCAP rating (Australian NCAP rating where right-hand drive models are tested). There are standard stability control and traction control systems that are teamed with ABS and EBD, not to mention all-wheel drive for a bit of extra grip in tricky situations. There isn’t however anything ground-breaking in terms of tech that could set it apart from the competition.
Ride and DriveWith Subaru’s strengthened underpinnings the Legacy is a pleasure to drive. It’s composed over bumps and mixes firmness with comfort impressively. In town, the length of the Legacy is noticeable as you switch lanes or try and get into tight parking spaces. The Legacy is more at home out on the open road where it can stretch its legs and cruise with effortless ease. It’s a car that eats up long distances without feeling like you’ve done half the mileage the ODO says.
When turned into a sports sedan, the Legacy does an admirable job. It’s not particularly heavy for its size (1 645 kg) so the body remains quite flat when cornering quickly. There’s plenty of grip from the 225/50 18-inch tyres and the steering is well-weighted if a little dull in feedback.
VerdictThe Subaru Legacy is a good offering, and it hits the right spots in terms of an overall package. It’s spacious, has a strong engine, is well equipped inside and rides well. It’s a bit thirsty compared to the smaller capacity turbo engines around but if you’re looking at a 3.6-Litre engine, fuel economy probably isn’t at the forefront of your buying needs. The Legacy, despite being a more spacious car, with more standard spec will have the problem of trying to coax buyers away from the likes of the BMW 3 Series, Audi A4 and Merc C-Class. Its direct competition lies more in the form of the Honda Accord and the Volkswagen CC.
Second OpinionI enjoyed driving the Subaru Legacy. The interior is comfortable and spacious, with the leather seats having sufficient bolstering for when you decide to press on. I found the infotainment system easy to use and I never got the sense that the interior was lacking. In terms of the drive, the Legacy did well. Power is right there when you need it and navigating traffic in the Legacy is a breeze with a touch of excitement too. Overall, the Legacy is a solid offering, but will have a tough time pipping its competitors. - Gero Lilleike
Subaru Legacy PricingSubaru offer just the one model in the legacy range so the 3.6 R-S comes in at R529 000. That includes a three-year/100 000km warranty and three-year/75 000km service plan with service intervals every 15 000km.
We Like: Improved styling in and out, comfortable ride, great touchscreen
We don’t Like: Thirsty, nothing ground breaking to make it stand out
Also consider: Honda Accord V6, Volkswagen CC V6