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Subaru Legacy GT

 

This Legacy GT may not be as sharp as its ancestors, but offers plenty of performance, spec and character

The jury's out on this Subaru Legacy GT's looks; it's brash enough to impart character, especially with the bonnet nostril finishing off that strong face. But pretty it ain't.

Which doesn't matter when you're talking sporting sedans - it's character and drive appeal that's important.

Initially, the drive experience didn't feel that flash; there was a tad more body roll than expected, imparting a superficially vague feel not improved by a hint of rattle through the steering wheel.

Get used to the softer suspension approach no doubt mandated by most owners' desire for everyday comfort over rare bursts of hoonery, and you find it doesn't actually corrupt handling. Allied to four-wheel grip, you can throw this car around a fair bit. It doesn't feel quite at home doing it, a disappointment after its sharper ancestors, but the skill's still there.

So's the power. This 2.5-litre turbo gets 195kW and 350Nm, the latter available from 2400 to 5200rpm. Keep her anywhere in that range and she'll pull like the proverbial, with a zero to 100 time of 6.2 seconds.

Not, it must be said, in standard five-speed auto mode - but then this car has not two, but three personalities. For inter-city cruising or cutting round-town fuel bills, select 'I' mode on the dial to soften engine response. A quick twist for sport will inject some pep, while sports sharp instantly recalls hooligan Legacys of old. And whatever you've chosen, you've still got the steering wheel-mounted paddles to play with.

Subaru's aimed a tad up market with this car. The interior design is smart, if unimaginatively laid out. But the leather seats are comfy, and there are enough bells and whistles to please.

Voice activated Bluetooth for example, and integrated satnav. Unfortunately it isn't as intuitive to use as I'd like, and just underlines how good many of the portable units are; that said, the humungous screen makes it easy to follow.

In contrast the buttons on the upgraded McINtosh audio are quite wee - though the clarity of its layout means it's easy to negotiate.

Apart from daily running about, my 600km-odd total included an extended highway trip. During it I discovered the split-level cubby, its main compartment big enough to swallow my SLR and wide-angle lens. The cupholders, which carry plentiful other guff. The fact the boot is roomy - albeit plainly finished - with a fold-down ski-aperture should the rain have turned to snow.

My return in a storm also had me blessing the four-paw grip backed by stability and traction control; all of which I needed when a BMW suddenly crossed the centerline, forcing me to swerve violently. Judging by the driver's goldfish expression as she whipped past, she hadn't realised ducking down to something on the dash might be less than wise with a long line of oncoming traffic - fortunately I wasn't doing the same. Had I been, no doubt some of the seven airbags would have deployed; I'm just glad they weren't needed.

What else? I didn't use the sunroof - I'm sure the leather seats aren't waterproof. I did appreciate the large-screen reversing camera. And the car's reasonable fuel economy. With 'I' on highways and mainly sport on the hills, she returned a 9.6l/100km average - a tenth of a litre less than the claim.

This Legacy GT may not be as sharp as its ancestors; it may not be as close to the Euros as its distributor might like.

But it does offer a reasonable blend of performance, spec, and character for its $65,990 price.

See the Subaru Legacy for sale.


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