The Subaru Legacy first hit the car yards in 1989 as the Japanese car manufacturer�s latest release in the mid-size car class. Originally, it was available as a sedan and station wagon, but since 2007, they have only produced the sedan style. The idea was to give Subaru a viable car to compete against the lucrative mid-size car class, against the likes of Honda and Toyota.
The Subaru Legacy, now in its fifth generation, has developed into a stylish, aerodynamic-looking sedan; gone are the clumsy lines of the earlier models, as they have been replaced with graceful elegance and spacious comfort. The latest configuration, brought out in 2009 to celebrate the cars 20th anniversary, is a technological marvel, brimming with innovative Subaru gadgets and engineering. Stylistically, it is similar in shape to the body of the designs of 2003, but beneath the cool exterior is a fascinating setup.
The first-generation Legacy was a revolutionary concept for Subaru at the time. By dispensing with many of the company�s idiosyncratic elements, Subaru hoped to gain mainstream acceptance with their new luxury model, flagship car. The look was a little chunky, with bulky bumpers and narrow front grille, but changes in engine and transmission produced a quieter and more powerful ride. The spare tyre was also moved from the engine bay to a more conventional position in the boot.
Subsequent models adopted a sportier, athletic look with flowing lines and a rear spoiler, with the same tone, moulded bumpers, and more sculpted front light rigs. There is still criticism remaining about the quality and style of the interior fittings; despite Subaru�s desire to enter the luxury car market with the Legacy, the fittings and trim have a decided plastic-like quality.
The Legacy is powered by the Boxer EZ36 flat-6 in either a 2.0L diesel or a 2.0L and 2.5L petrol engine. Linked to this, drivers can either elect to use the 6-speed manual gearbox or the Lineartronic CVT automatic transmission.
The performance levels on the Legacy are not racing car standard, but it has a decent rate of acceleration, going from 0-100 km/hr in 9.6 seconds in the diesels, while the petrol engines are a little slower, covering the same distance in 11.3 seconds. It is a little heavy on fuel consumption and uses an average of 8.2L/100km of diesel or 11.7L/100km of petrol. The 2.0L gives off around 156g/km of CO2, while the petrol engines emit between 187 and 196g/km.
The Legacy also achieved a good level of success in the rallying world, gaining creditable finishes in 1992, 1993, 2002, and 2006.
The standard equipment across the trim levels on the Legacy include electronically folding mirrors, climate control, tilt steering, wheel-mounted controls, 60/40 rear seat split, Eco gauge, Bluetooth hands free, quality 6-CD audio system, MP3/USB point, and electronic handbrake.
Safety is taken into consideration as premium, and the Subaru Legacy comes with many features as standard in this five-star ANCAP-rated car. There are Vehicle Dynamic Control, traction control, ABS, EBD, brake assist, 7 SRS airbags, and safety head restraints.
There are also plenty of options in the fifth generation with leather trim, satnav, rear view cameras, push button engine start/stop, and extra comfort in the 10-position, adjustable driver�s seat as well as the Subaru EyeSight system.
The earlier models came with optional ABS, air-suspension, glass tinted moon roof, front passenger air bags, spoiler, or alloy wheels. It was after 2003 that many of the Legacy�s standard equipment were included and extras were truly luxurious items.
Subaru intended the Legacy as a competitor for the Japanese manufacturers� Toyota Camry and Honda Accord. It was also meant to be a contender in the market against such compact executive cars as the functional Audi A4, stylish Alfa Romeo 159, and sturdy BMW 3-series.
Although the competition stacked against the Subaru Legacy is tough, its 20-year history gives it plenty of things in its favour. Where the Legacy wins is its overall quality. While there are roomier and faster cars, those more refined, and others with greater reliability, the Subaru Legacy has just that � a legacy as a durable, comfortable, and relatively spacious car. Sure there are others that will beat it in certain qualities, but the Legacy provides a good all-round package.
Features like its all-wheel drive, extensive standard equipment list, and fantastic safety record are noteworthy when taken against its slower pace and lower levels of refinement against its rivals.