- We like...Engine, four-wheel-drive
- We don't...Low-rent plastics in cabin
So this is the newest Subaru Legacy. It follows a long line of Legacy cars that were, well, just that little bit special. While they looked sensible, they drank deeply from the make’s rally-car know-how to shape up as cars that had a sporty edge. All-wheel-drive and growling flat-four engines gave them a responsiveness that more humdrum motors couldn’t match.
The 4x4 drive and characterful engine are still there. But in this latest car there’s a definite move towards the mainstream. The low-cut bonnet and frameless door windows that were once Legacy quirks are gone. In their place comes an all-new body that, if no beauty, looks sharp and modern. But, until you spot the Subaru badges, it could equally be a new design from any of a number of Japanese makes.
The choice of models has shrunk, too. Gone (at least for the foreseeable future) are saloon versions of the Legacy, leaving just the estate. The blistering 3.0-litre spec B model is deleted, too, so there’s just a choice of two trims and between petrol and diesel engines.
Here we’re with the diesel. The engine’s one of a kind in that it is a flat-four diesel. It’s carried over from the previous Legacy but Subaru has tinkered with it to reduce emissions and boost fuel economy. It’s punchy, smooth and keen for its output so it’s the one we reckon most owners will plump for, although there’s also a 2.5-litre petrol, four cylinder available.
It’s bigger all round than the previous car, now offering an exceptionally roomy cabin and a big load space out back. And, if you need to make the most of it as a load carrier, the rear seats flip flat at the tug of remote levers close to the tailgate opening. For space and four-wheel-drive, only the Skoda Superb estate (a car we have yet to drive) comes close at similar money.
But one thing that the Subaru will tail the Skoda for is cabin quality. While everything looks sturdy and as if there for keeps, the touch and look of the plastics falls behind the expected standard for its price. Still, it is very well equipped, whether you go for the cheaper S or the SE (pictured). Our SE had keyless entry, an electronic handbrake push-pull (that was actually pretty easy to use), leather seats that were heated and electrically adjustable up front.
To drive, that flat-four diesel gives the car an immediately likeable low-revs urge, although the six-speed gearbox’s sometimes clack-clack action takes away from smooth progress. The car handles neatly and stays comfortable over uneven bumps but it brings repeated bumps and thumps into the cabin. And while the car’s grip and traction is exceptional, the steering has a touch of vagueness not there in older Legacys. It doesn’t encourage you to press on.
Should you buy one? This Subaru is well made, tough and practical. And it’ll get you along an icy road in winter when more conventional estate cars are slipping and sliding. What’s more, it’ll remain pretty exclusive – you’ll be lucky to see two parked together. But if you’re a diehard Legacy fan we reckon that, like us, you’ll feel just a little short-changed: this one’s good, but no longer great.
To read our verdict on the previous Subaru Legacy, click here
To view and buy new and used Subaru Legacys on motors.co.uk, click here
- Engines2.0 boxer diesel
- 0-60 mph9.6secs
- Insurance groups12E
Motors.co.uk value verdict: