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2008 Subaru Legacy - 22nd May 2008

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2008 Subaru Legacy Boxer Diesel 2008 Subaru Legacy Boxer Diesel 2008 Subaru Legacy Boxer Diesel 2008 Subaru Legacy Boxer Diesel

Above: Boxer Diesel
Below: 3.0R B Spec

2008 Subaru Legacy Boxer Diesel 2008 Subaru Legacy Boxer Diesel 2008 Subaru Legacy Boxer Diesel

Spring is here and they say young men’s fancy turns to..., well being no young man and happily married my thoughts have strayed to a new car. There’s nothing wrong with the Audi (now the gearbox is fixed) but after 7 years and two Audi A6’s I really have an itch for something new. I’ve set my criteria for the new car and in no particular order:-

√ Real World Quick

√ Handling

√ Estate

√ Comfortable

√ 4 Wheel Drive

√ Room for four

Having recently driven my esteemed fellow DA’s 4x4’s I knew I didn’t want an "off-roader" but I enjoyed the traction afforded by 4-wheel drive. Trouble is, not many companies offer permanent drive to all four wheels in a road car. As far as I can work it out you have the choice between an Audi, Saab or a Subaru (no you can’t include the Evo).

The Saab 9-3 system looks interesting but having driven a 9-3 Touring the space was limited and so were its handling capabilities so I didn’t believe throwing more power at it was going to make it any better. That leaves the Subaru Legacy or the Audi.

The A4 Avant Quattro S-line is simply one of the most handsome vehicles on the has real presence. Throw into that the quality of the interior and you have a very compelling argument to stay with the German Marque. But, and they are two big buts; first, the Audi is expensive when compared with its rivals and second, the marketing department now run the company and as far as I am concerned it’s a catastrophe. The ride was sacrificed for the sake of the look and judging by some of the driving I’ve seen and comments from friends the 4 rings are attracting some of the worst kind of drivers i.e. tailgaters, undertakers and inconsiderate self abusers. So I found myself at the local Subaru dealer taking the keys from the salesman to the recently introduced Boxer Diesel. "See you in say 30 mins?" he said. I was a little confused, "What? You don’t want to sit alongside me?", "no"...what a pleasant change.

Open the frame-less door wide and first impressions are not good. This model didn’t have leather and the interior was more Toyota than Audi and certainly couldn’t match the new Mondeo’s quality. Good layout though, and oh so easy to get comfortable with its leather covered steering wheel adjustable for both reach & rake and fully electric sports seats. Turn the key, oh dear! More Massey Ferguson than Rolls; it felt rough and sounded clattery. I was starting to feel a little crest fallen.

I Pulled out onto the main road and the torque felt good, not immediate like a Turbo, more like the shove of a supercharger...this was promising. The wheel felt good; not dissimilar to the Swift on the DA fleet. The gear change was also smooth with a positive and satisfyingly mechanical action. As the engine warmed the clatter was replaced by a muted boxer burble from the twin exhausts...that’s better, spirits lifted another notch.

The weather was inclement, with sleet in the rain, and the roads were either damp and cold or wet and cold but someone forgot to tell the "Scubie". First bend, I attacked, it just gripped and went. Next up, a wet roundabout, into second, turn in, nose dives for the apex, bury the throttle, no fuss, no drama, just forward motion. Yes yes yes...that’s what it should be like; no frustrating traction control light flashing, no loss of power or nannying braking of the spinning wheel. It gripped in the wet like the Audi does in the dry and that felt so good.

The ride was smooth and controlled, on the sporty side but not as hard or crashy as the A6 and light years ahead of the S line A4 (but then the Seven rides better than that). Composed is a good way to describe it. There was a slight suspicion of pitching front to back but we were on West Yorkshire B roads and all this on bigger wheels (17" v 16") and lower profile tyres (55 v 60) than my A6...I was impressed to say the least.

The route also took in some motorway work and something I was not expecting was that the Legacy was quieter at normal outside lane speeds than the A6, with a good and satisfying shove when you needed to pass slower cars.

Back off the motorway and onto fast A roads, that same feeling of control and that can just lean on it. I did broach the limits on a slippy little tight roundabout but a small lift re-stuck the front drama, just progress. The steering has a good weight with more feeling than the A4, loading up to let you know the fronts are working that little bit harder, wriggling on surface imperfections without getting fussy or intrusive and all the time was that grip, have I mentioned that?

I like this car, I like it enough to spend my good hard-earned cash on. It’s roomy enough for the family yet compact enough to be able to thread it along the lanes that have replaced the M1 as my daily commute. I think I’ve established that it’s real-world quick whatever the weather and despite giving it large it still averaged 37mpg over the test route. If you then take a look at the equipment list you can’t really ask for much more. I thought I would do a little side by comparison with its rival A4 Quattro Avant, the 170 SE. Trouble is, the model is not yet available on the website to do a comparison so I went for the 2.0Tdi SE. By the time you’ve ticked the boxes on the options list that are standard on the Legacy you are looking at £31k and that’s without 4-wheel drive!

I am sorry, but is the Audi £9k better than the Subaru? Yes it has a six speed box and slightly better emissions but it weighs 80kg more so that’s like dragging around another passenger. £9k buys a lot of fuel, tyres and servicing plus you are buying a car with touch of individuality, a car that makes it hard for people to pigeon-hole you and in my book that’s priceless. Looks like its auf wiedersehen to Audi and konnichiwa to Subaru.



Update on the Subaru front , silly sod that I am I’ve gone and tried the 3.0R B Spec. It’s been out 18 months now so it’s a good buy and I thought I might just be able to get decent fuel consumption (above 22mpg) so with the lower purchase price and cheaper petrol vs diesel I might just might make it pay.

It was a big mistake...I’ve fallen hard for the big bad engine...its just so good; velvet smooth, with a lovely burble and when you mash the pedal to the floor it just sucks in the horizon. It’s quick, with the ability to just waft past slower traffic quickly and safely. The grip is again stunning but even more effortless with its clever auto box and selectable engine maps..."Intelligent" for round town and motorway, "Sport" for shaper throttle response and more power, and the full-house "Sports Sharp" which turns it into a snarling beast, all 246 horses are set to stampede mode and the sensible looking estate just flies. Great for the overtake or twisty road.

The 3.0R B Spec has all the toys that are available on the Diesel but the Satnav (cant see the screen with sunroof blind open!) is standard along with a 6 speed auto box with manual paddle override, stunning 18" wheels and a rear LSD.

Trouble was, even with the aircon off and trying to drive carefully I still only managed 22.4mpg and even with a modest 15k miles a year and the differential in fuel prices it would still be £800 more expensive a year on fuel. My heart says yes but my head and the financial controller (Mrs Wife) say no. Looks like the diesel then, oh well, I’ll just have to grin and bare it.

So if you’re interested the Audi is for sale, £8,950, see here for full details.


2008 Subaru Legacy Boxer Diesel

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