In fleet terms the Legacy is a small player, but it enjoys a strong following among doctors, farmers and vets because of its dependable reliability and permanent four-wheel-drive system which gives all-weather appeal. Subaru hopes that appeal will widen when import restrictions cease in 2000, allowing it to import more cars to fulfil a healthy demand.
The 4Cam 2.5-litre Legacy, as tested here, is a completely new model with heavily revised running gear, a new floorpan and body construction. Built in Japan, it supplants the old 4Cam models but manages to maintain a strong family resemblance to the old model. By contrast, the less powerful 2.0-litre models, which are sourced from America in a neat sidestep of the quota rules, will remain in production throughout 1999 as the Legacy Classic, selling alongside the 4Cam in LX and GL trim levels at prices starting at just ú15,500 on-the-road for the LX.
In Britain two distinct models of the 4Cam - the standard estate and the raised ground clearance Outback model - are on sale in both manual and automatic forms, with Standard and Luxury Pack trim levels. Prices start at ú20,800 on-the-road for the 4Cam GX manual estate, the luxury pack adding an extra ú3,000 and automatic transmission a further ú1,000. Outback prices start at ú21,915 for the manual, rising to ú25,045 for the Outback Luxury Pack auto. For the money, you get a sports estate car that packs four-wheel drive as standard and more luggage space than either a BMW 5-series Touring or Audi A6 Avant despite smaller exterior dimensions.