Fleet News

Subaru Legacy 3.0R - 4,223 miles



IT isn't often that I throw a hissy fit in the office. As the oldest member of the Fleet News staff I tend to sit back when there is an argument brewing and watch all the scratching and biting with a bemused look upon my face, stepping in only at the last moments to clear up the mess and make things better.


But that was before the arrival of the Subaru Legacy 3.0R....

I had praised this car to the skies in the March 25 issue and was delighted when road test editor Simon Harris promised me the keys for a three-month stint.

But last week, a change of plans was announced and I was to be given a different car. That was it!

All toys were immediately thrown from the pram and bitter words were flung across the office. However, a bit of subtle manoeuvring on my behalf soon saw the keys back in my hands.

So with the risk of sounding like Gollum in The Lord of the Rings, my precious is now back in my grasp – and no-one is going to take it!

So just what is it about this vehicle that produced such uncharacteristic histrionics on my behalf?

All I can say is that during my many years at Fleet News, I have seldom tested a car which balances a low front end price, a high level of standard specification and a massively powerful engine in such a magnificent way. The sum of the parts comes together to form more than their total.

The Legacy is a very capable car in any of its guises, with its boxer engines and four wheel drive as standard. If you want one, you could opt for the 2.0i for as little as £15,985. But it won't be half as much fun as our long-term test vehicle, the blistering 3.0-litre model which was launched last year. It weighs in at £24,500 but in my book is worth every penny.

In my last test I was talking as though this car was just about the fastest thing on the roads bar none. And with 245bhp on tap, there aren't many that can beat it.

But since then I have been tempted to push the Legacy up towards its limits to see how far it will go and it has become obvious that this car, despite its huge power output, is by no means a sportster – it is more of a powerful luxury cruiser and must be treated as such.

The suspension is rather on the soft side for a performance car and the traction control will soon cut in if you try anything really clever on the bends.

There is a little button under the dash that will turn the traction control off. I have been tempted to flick it and have some fun but so far I have desisted, as such action could well lead to me having to explain to the nice people at Subaru who lent us the car how I managed to stuff it into a hedge.

Mind you, all this doesn't mean there is any shortage of power. The standard five-speed automatic gearbox transmits the car's 245bhp to the wheels seamlessly and effortlessly. In standard setting it changes up and down in a fairly lazy manner.

Poke the stick through a gate into 'sport' mode and things become a lot more lively. Changes come right up near the 7,000rpm red line and you only have to press the accelerator about half a millimetre before the gearbox kicks down.

If you want even more spirited performance, the gearstick can be 'paddled' up and down, although there is so much power on tap that this facility is never really needed.

All in all I can't remember when I last enjoyed driving a test car as much and I'm looking forward to sharing more of my views with readers in the coming month.

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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