Fleet News

Subaru Legacy 3.0R - 1,484 miles



ON the way back from Sainsbury's the other day I was overtaken by a middle-aged man in a 20-year-old but well-kept Porsche 911.

I had just returned to the inside lane of a dual carriageway after some overtaking of my own and was quite happy sitting at the legal limit of 70mph.

The Porsche driver was probably compensating for some kind of shortcoming and must have been in an almighty hurry as he seemed to have an additional 20mph or more over me when his car whizzed past.

Apart from his unnecessary speed, the other thing I noticed about the incident was that when the 911 went by, its highly-strung six-cylinder 'boxer' engine at full chat sounded just like my Subaru's in kickdown.

The 'boxer' engine –where the cylinders are horizontally opposed – is central to Subaru's philosophy of providing entertaining, well-balanced cars. Like the rally-inspired Impreza, our Legacy's engine is designed to give the car a low centre of gravity, which means it is less likely to be flustered by sudden changes of direction than if it had an in-line or V configuration.

It means that even tall cars like the Subaru Forester and Outback, despite their increased ground clearance and off-road ability, feel more like conventional estate cars.

Our Legacy is fresh from its 1,000-mile oil change and is settling down nicely, although it hasn't been given much opportunity for a nice long run to improve its fuel consumption – currently reading 22.8mpg according to the trip computer.

Subaru is keen for the Legacy to be recognised as a capable quality saloon (or estate), perhaps in the same league as an Audi A4. Our 3.0R boasts 245bhp and 219lb-ft of torque, has an automatic transmission and permanent four-wheel drive.

Look for saloons with similar attributes in the market where Subaru aspires to be with the Legacy and the Audi A4 3.0 SE Quattro Tiptronic and Jaguar X-type 3.0 SE emerge as potential rivals.

With 220bhp for the A4 and 231bhp for the X-type, the Legacy would seem to have an early advantage, while Subaru also seems to have done a good job on fuel consumption and carbon dioxide emissions, the 3.0-litre boxer appearing surprisingly efficient, even with a five-speed automatic transmission.

Then look at the options list to see what needs to be added to the Audi and Jaguar to bring the specification up to the same level as the Subaru. Costly items like leather seats, heated and electrically adjustable front seats, an electric sunroof and a CD autochanger are standard in the Subaru for £24,500.

Bring the other cars up to the same standard by adding the above and a few other missing items and the on-the-road prices creep up towards £33,000.

The problem Subaru has is that most Audi A4 and Jaguar X-type drivers would not consider the Legacy as an alternative, perhaps seeing it as a step up from a Ford Mondeo or a Vauxhall Vectra.

Subaru aficionados out there will know it's much more than that, and I suspect as time goes on during its stay at Fleet News, it will become the favoured transport of the driving enthusiasts here.

Company car tax bill 2004/05 (40% tax-payer): £249 per month

CO2 emissions and fuel consumption data correct at time of writing. The latest figures are available in the Fleet News fuel cost calculator and the company car tax calculator.

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