Brent Co / Brent Co | October 21, 2015 01:17
The executive's car done right
The Subaru Legacy has developed a more performance-oriented direction over the years. On its sixth generation however, the Legacy tries to focus more on comfort and refinement than to go against midsize mainstays like the Honda Accord, Nissan Altima and the Toyota Camry.
Go-fast Legacy fans might go up in arms with this move, but it makes perfect business sense to do so. We try to find out if there’s more to it, and whether going a bit more refined and comfortable takes out the fun from it or not.
Design-wise the new Legacy takes on a more dignified direction, away from the touring midsize sedan appeal. It features a new design language, debuted on the Viziv and WRX concepts, coined as 'Dynamic Solidity' by design chief Osamu Namba. To project an image of distinction, the modern LED-bracketed headlamps flank a hexagonal-shaped grill, with bold horizontal lines. This is echoed in the similarly fashioned tail lamps which accentuate a clean flowing finish for the rear.
The interior is distinctly Subaru with a mix of soft-touch black and brushed aluminum accents. The driver's seat welcomes with a meaty, performance-oriented steering wheel, with convenience features such as controls for the entertainment system, multi-information display (MID), cruise control and voice command. Paddle shifters are tucked neatly behind. Instrumentation is nicely lit and easy to read, while controls are ergonomically placed for ease of use. An 'eco' gauge is included in the MID to encourage efficient driving. The infotainment system combines vehicle information, fuel economy and entertainment.
The front seats are nicely bolstered for 'spirited' driving and cushioned well for comfort. Rear legroom is slightly better than its predecessor, thanks to the longer body, which also gives it 10 liters more trunk space. While it doesn’t come with armrest-mounted controls for the back, the seats are nice and comfortable with just the right grain of leather for that level of sophistication you expect of a Japanese executive sedan.
Under the hood is an FB25 engine first introduced in 2011 for the non-turbo Forester, which is an improvement over the previous EJ series engines. Interestingly, the 6th-generation Legacy will be the very first time a Legacy will not use an EJ engine since its inception in 1989. The new FB-series engines have a double overhead camshaft 16-valve configuration; produce more power at lower engine speeds, better torque and fuel economy. The engine is mated to a 'Lineartronic' CVT, with six-speeds in sport mode.
Power delivery is very smooth, thanks to a well-match CVT. Despite ditching the turbo, the naturally aspirated engine produces 175 PS @ 5800 rpm and 235 Nm of torque at 4000 rpm, well-matched with its target competitors; the Accord, Altima, and Camry, or even the Korean competition like the Hyundai Sonata and Kia Optima. It’s no SkyActiv though, but then again, the Mazda 6 is a more driver-focused car.
Numbers aside, the Legacy is, by no means, a slouch either. It feels light and peppy zipping through light city traffic and on the expressway. Fuel economy-wise, it clocked 11 km/l in light urban traffic, 13 km/l out on the open road. The numbers went down in heavy traffic to about 6.8 km/l.
Suspension-wise, it retains a similar configuration with re-tuned dampers and springs that seem to have combined both the sporty handling of the sedan and comfort of the wagon from the previous generation. Engineers have likewise improved the geometry and introduced a new, quick-ratio electric power steering, which feels very connected and precise. Electronic driving aids include active torque vectoring, vehicle dynamics control, traction control and hill hold.
Engineers seem to have found the perfect balance of comfort and handling for the suspension on the new Legacy and the active torque vectoring worked very well on hard cornering (if you feel the sudden need to 'have fun’ with the car). Road imperfections were absorbed with ease while body roll was kept to a minimum.
The new Subaru Legacy would qualify as a one-size-fits-all midsize sedan that younger executives can comfortably drive without looking middle-aged. It also fits those who prefer to drive themselves or be driven. The 2.5 i-S variant makes a sensible proposition as it comes with premium features like leather seats, LED headlamps, premium audio and 18-inch wheels, with the practicality of the 4-cylinder that's both able enough and efficient.