The Subaru Legacy Tourer is a master of disguise
SUBARU LEGACY TOURER
CO2 PER KM: 148 GRAMS
MILES PER GALLON: 54.4
GOOD FOR: FAST ROADS
BAD FOR: SMALL LOADS
Christian Louboutin gives his stilettos blood-red soles, Paul Smith lines his jackets with candy stripes… and Subaru pierces the bonnets of its cars with exquisite sculpted air-intakes. A promising bulge, filled with potential, that lifts the car from workaday motor to transport of delight. It hints at thrust, power, smoking tyres and, to your inner boy-in-shorts, it shouts “This car goes fast.”
The scoop has featured on many Subarus down the years, most memorably on Colin McRae’s multi-titled Impreza – a beefed-up diamond blue rally monster which had all the swagger needed to carry off such an outlandish body contour. But the Subaru I’ve been driving this past week appears to have all the attitude of a librarian with a taste for early English chamber music. It does have interesting wraparound headlamps and a fairly sporty derrière, but in a car park it wouldn’t stand out. Which makes that telltale scoop all the more intriguing.
The car is a Legacy and it is the first car to be fitted with an oil-burning boxer diesel engine. Car makers love to claim firsts – and more often than not they’re simply old ideas reheated and served up with a large dollop of PR spin – but Subaru’s technological first has created a diesel that behaves like a petrol. For those of you not fine-tuned to the fascinating nuances of these two energy sources, this means that the Legacy is smooth, refined and yet economical – that’s the theory anyway.
The Legacy has just celebrated its 20th anniversary, and this latest model of the Subaru flagship is wider, longer and taller than the one that went before. It looks fresh, clean and neat. And in pearlescent satin white it has a pleasingly uncluttered look. If a car were to look Japanese, this would be it. More than 3.6m Legacys have been sold in the past two decades and this fifth-generation edition will certainly add to that total. It’s an impressive drive – responsive, alert and obedient. The exact opposite, in fact, of my teenage children. There’s also a sense of robustness about the car. I remember seeing a Subaru Forester slither down a muddy bank before falling on to its side. Four passersby pushed it back on to its wheels and the driver, still belted in his seat, waved and drove off as if he’d simply stopped at a red light.
Inside, the story is less promising. It’s certainly comfortable and spacious, but it seems to have borrowed its styling from a 1970s stereo system – all blue flashing lights and annoyingly small buttons. In the rarefied atmosphere above 20 grand, nothing short of sumptuousness is acceptable. There are a few gremlins that need to be put out of their misery, too. The only way to open the doors when the engine was running was to turn it off. And the button-operated handbrake was placed above a small access hatch which kept coming off in my hand… More alarmingly, the official consumption figures – and the very raison d’etre of the boxer engine – were way off mark. But for the driver in search of an estate which handles like a car rather than a block of flats, the Legacy is definitely a test drive.?