Jude Morte / Ramon Sy | January 06, 2010 00:00
Reaching A Larger CrowdThe first batch of the Legacy that came into the country were more of refined second-tier options, often taking a backseat to more illustrious competition such as the Toyota Camry and the Honda Accord. Subaru observed what its rivals were doing, and launched a new Legacy - in both sedan and wagon trim - in the hopes of reaching a far larger crowd.
When viewed from the outside, it makes more of a statement. The front fascia (with its oversized grille) and overstated fenders exude an in-your-face quality that some may find contemptuous, while the side and rear sections tote a low stance, and twin tailpipes that give it a sporting character. The result is a Legacy that's a distinctive voice in a mostly bland chorus of family sedans, and a car that resembles more of a Euro estate.
Improved ergonomics, fit and finish, and bigger confines define the cabin, which certainly reinforces the Euro wagon form factor. Brushed aluminum and faux carbon fiber tastefully line the dashboard, along with a lot more storage bins (including directly under the audio unit and the aircon controls). The two tier center console fits three to four external hard drives stacked either upright or on top of each other. The inner area of center console has a plug that can charge an external MP3 player, but perhaps a USB port would have been better. The audio entertainment has better bass thump than its predecessor, and its steering wheel-mounted controls have large fonts (and have red backlighting that turns on when the headlights are engaged) that make them easier to read at night. The uncluttered gauge cluster layout is a far better than the other models.
The Legacy's rear quarters give enough hiproom and headroom to easily seat three adults, and a center armrest padded, with two cupholders makes travels more agreeable when just two are riding in back. A rear-facing child seat may be placed behind the seat of even taller drivers, with room to spare. There's also lots of usable space at the rearmost area due to little wheel-well intrusion. It's wide enough to allow drivers to simultaneously tote two golf bags and a suitcase, plus the rear seats fold in a 60/40 split.
The turbocharged flat four and even gearing combine to show usable grunt down, with powerband entry at 2,500 rpm onwards, boost coming on at 2,750 rpm and full boost at 4,000-4,500 rpm. You can comfortably thread openings in rush-hour slog and confidently merge with fast-moving highway traffic. A tap on the throttle mixed with the Si-Drive engine mapping toggle knob on Sport (labeled on the knob and on a screen within the gauge cluster as "S") or Sport Sharp (labeled as "S#") will definitely make the Legacy go forward very willingly. However, it's best to use the manual mode - especially via the steering wheel mounted paddle shifters - and the Si-Drive set to Sport Sharp mode for best acceleration results.
Aptly describing the Legacy's suspension tuning is the phrase pleasantly firm. Road feel is acknowledged and embraced, but not to the point of letting in undue vibration or noise into the cabin. Steering feel is enjoyably direct, and handling is surprisingly nimble - it feels a lot smaller on the road than similarly-sized competition like the Honda Accord. Both these traits come together to make the Legacy one of the more fun-to-drive choices in the executive car arena.
It also helps that the car bites with just a tap on the middle pedal, exterior lighting so bright the foglights can take over for the headlights anytime, and a less-than-intrusive traction control (which allows a little understeer-oversteer transition before the electronics wake up). The electronic parking brake's usage is patterned after that on Volvo's cars - all you have to do is push on a lever parallel to the driver's left hip to turn on, pull on the lever and step on the brake pedal to turn off. There are a few turnoffs, safety-wise there are no rear bumper-mounted parking sensors and the side mirrors offer a rather narrow field of view
At P2.174 million, it's P329,000 more than the closest Euro-based wagon (the P1.845 million Volvo V50), but the Subaru has 500 cc more of displacement, forced induction and all wheel. Those aspects along with distinctly Subaru sheet metal and above-average performance in a significantly larger package combine to present itself as an executive wagon meant for those who aren't just Subaru loyalists, but also those that are looking for a do-almost-everything vehicle befitting a family man.