Legacy Sports Tourer 2.0D RE
it has been a long time coming
but now its
worth the wait because its
and comfortable companion...
THE LONG-SERVING SUBARU LEGACY in Sports Tourer (estate) or Outback (a beefed-up
crossover estate) forms are well loved by country folk. Not just because they
have four-wheel drive and can cope pretty well with most weather conditions
that 'living-in-the-sticks' can throw at them, but because they
are familiar, reliable and comfortable, rather like a favourite pair of Wellingtons,
slippers or trainers.
And now, after the 'smoke and mirrors' re-budget by The Chancellor, there's
extra VAT off so it would be churlish not to take advantage.
The Legacy range (which also includes a saloon) had, until the beginning of
this year, only been available with petrol engines. As the market in this upper
medium size sector Mondeo and Honda Accord Estate territory demands
diesel power, Subaru eventually saw the light and introduced their diesel powered
But being Subaru it had to follow its trademark engine design philosophy of
being a 'Boxer' where the cylinders are horizontally opposed. However,
there are very good reasons for this design: the size of the unit is compact
and, because the engine is relatively shallow in height, it can be mounted low
down in the car to give a low centre of gravity.
Now, after years of missed sales opportunities because no diesel engine was
available, Subaru models such as the Legacy and new Forester will appeal to
a much wider buying public. Timely, as Subaru really needs some help in this
troubled new car market as their sales are down 15.8% so far this year
that's almost twice the size of the overall fall in UK new car sales.
Being all-wheel drive, the Legacy Sports Tourer estate and its beefed-up stablemate
the Legacy Outback (another estate but with more underbody protection and longer
travel suspension for off-road work) might not be rife in the major cities of
the UK. But in the country they are familiar sight covered in mud, stuffed with
dogs, children and bales of hay or all three. It would be fair to say
the Legacy is not the most modern of designs. It doesn't have the now almost
ubiquitous flared wheelarches, deeply sculpted side panels, pronounced body
styling lines and rising waistline to give a wedge shape.
The current Legacy has been with us for many years; it's familiar and Subaru
owners, by tradition, like that. It still looks smart; just not trendy. And
at 4,720mm in overall length with a width of 1,730mm and a height of 1,70mm,
it isn't the roomiest of estates on the market these days. Load space, with
the rear seats in position, is 459 litres; with the rear seats folded it's 1,649
litres. And if you need to tow, the Legacy will pull 1,700kg (braked) without
It also doesn't have the monopoly on being all-wheel drive as Audi has is Avant
quattro load-luggers, as does VW with the Passat Estate 4Motion to name but
two. And joined shortly by the 4WD Vauxhall Insignia estates. Then of course
there are numerous crossover SUVs all vying for sales in this hard-fought sector.
Still, on the positive side, Subaru owners are generally very loyal to the brand
and the new 2.0-litre Boxer diesel engine is very good, so the injection of
diesel technology for the Legacy estates is a long awaited but very welcome
The Legacy Sports Tourer diesel range starts at £20,995 for the R version and
rises to £24,395 for the top REn variant with satellite navigation. Outback
diesel models are priced from £22,495 to £25,895.
Comfort is one of the major features of the Legacy. It is really nice to travel
in a car of this size where the suspension is not set to be 'sporty' but is
compliant and can handle the potholes, ripples and ridges commonplace on our
worn out British roads.
The all-wheel drive is, of course, another major feature and gives worthwhile
grip in all conditions and the fuel economy doesn't seem to suffer driving
all four wheels.
The Legacy equipment levels are high and as standard each model has high intensity
headlights with washers, electrically-folding door mirrors, projector front
foglights, a high quality stereo sound system, cruise control, electric windows
and dual-zone climate control. RE and REn variants have, in addition, heated
electric seats with black or cream leather upholstery, heated electric mirrors,
electric sunroof, 17-inch alloy wheels and Subaru's Vehicle Dynamics Control.
Safety features for all models includes active front head restraints, dual-stage
front airbags, side and curtain airbags and anti-lock braking with EBD.
Core to sales growth potential for the Legacy Tourer is the new 2.0-litre, flat-four,
light-alloy 'Boxer' common-rail turbodiesel engine. The benefits of having a
horizontally-opposed layout include: compact size, lightweight, low centre of
gravity and very smooth and quiet in operation.
The new engine produces 148bhp and a commendable 258lb ft of torque from 1,800rpm.
Top speed is 126mph with 0-62mph taking 8.5 seconds. Perhaps more important
are the fuel consumption and CO2 figures. Officially, the 2.0D Legacy Sports
Tourer will return 49.6mpg overall and my test car more than lived up to that
figure with an impressive 49.8mpg for all types of motoring. The CO2
emissions are 154g/km so giving a road tax bill of £145. I can live with that.
Strangely, whilst the new Subaru Forester with the same diesel power unit has
a six-speed manual transmission, the Legacy only has a five-speed 'box. But
looking on the bright side, that's less gear changing and still really good
Apart from the traditional diesel rattle at start-up, the 'Boxer' engine is
noticeably smooth and quiet and the installation in the Legacy is well done,
with fluid-filled engine-mounting bushes that eliminate the transmission of
noise and vibrations. The supply of power is progressive and responsive and
with this unit the Legacy estate just about warrants its 'Sports Tourer' label.
Whether it is used in the country or by city-slicker types going about their
daily business up and down motorways, the Legacy diesel might not look the most
modern car on our roads today but it is very comfortable and, importantly, efficient
with its use of fuel. While a handful of customers might lament the lack of
an automatic transmission option, they will surely appreciate the many plus
points: a smooth and quiet diesel engine, all-wheel drive for capable all-weather
road-holding and a well-equipped and roomy interior along with a comfortable
ride. David Miles
Subaru Legacy Sports Tourer 2.0D RE | £22,995
Maximum speed: 126mph | 0-62mph: 8.5 seconds
Overall test MPG: 49.8mpg | Power: 148bhp | Torque: 258lb ft
CO2 154g/km | VED Band D £145 | Insurance group 13