Forget Me Not | Subaru Legacy 2.5i-S

BY Azfar Hashim

In a segment currently dominated by the Mazda 6, we take the new Legacy out to see whether it deserves more attention

Photos by Azfar Hashim


Looking at the large family sedan category, the choices you have can be narrowed down to three models: The Toyota Camry, Toyota Camry and Toyota Camry. Ok, kidding.

In actual fact, a quick look at the current list of contenders in this segment will reveal a rather long one. There is the Toyota Camry, Honda Accord, Mazda 6, Nissan Teana, Hyundai Sonata, Kia Optima K5, Ford Mondeo and even Chevrolet Malibu.

But if you’re looking for something that has that tinge of sportiness infused, then you have only one realistic option in the lot: Mazda’s 6. And obviously the Mazda 6 has won lots of fans locally. With prices starting from $126+k for the entry-level 2.0-litre variant to just below $145k for the range-topping 2.5-litre, on top of the tightest chassis and overall positive driving experience, it’s all clear why you’re seeing so many of them on our roads.

But perhaps it being a common sight turns you off; you’re the sort who does not like to blend in with the crowd. To quote the current hipster slang, you’re just not ‘mainstream’. Then again, you need a large sedan and your budget is limited to something below $130k.

Well you could consider the 2.0-litre Korean Hyundai Sonata ($127k for the sunroof variant) and Kia Optima K5 ($124k) and, again, the entry-level ‘V’ grade Mazda 6 for consideration.

Here’s another contender, and I’m sure one you’ve totally forgotten about: the Subaru Legacy. Now let me tell you why on earth you should like it: For a start, the $128.8k price tag. And with that, you get yourself a factory-fitted sunroof, 18-inch alloys wrapped in 225/50 R-18 Dunlop SP Sport Maxx rubbers, plus a highly sorted cabin wrapped in cow.

Most importantly, however, is this: a 2.5-litre engine. Basically for Hyundai Sonata money, you get a large-everything Japanese sedan.

Paired to a ‘Lineartronic’ CVT transmission, maximum power is 173 bhp while torque output is some 235 Nm at 4,000 rpm. It does the 0 to 100 km/h sprint in 9.6 seconds and has a top speed of 210 km/h.

To be frank, the on-paper numbers do not impress much considering how smaller, force-fed powerplants could easily trounce the Legacy in that aspect but in a surprising twist, the way it delivers all that power through the four wheels efficiently without (a) any sort of unnecessary screeching tyres or (b) violent torque steer that impresses. The point here is it does its job in a surefooted manner so you can floor the accelerator whenever you feel the need to (casting fuel efficiency concerns aside).

Out on the expressway, the Legacy delivers refinement that nearly matches up to a Lexus GS — wind and road noise is kept at bay, and at cruising speeds of up to three figures, the engine noise is almost inaudible. Which means you can have decent conversations with everyone else in the car. Subaru seemed to have taken some lessons from Lexus, and that’s a great job on their part.

Handling wise, it’s rather hard to fault it. Permanent all-wheel drive provides unlimited grip, although credit must also given to the UHP Dunlop rubbers that came standard with the test car. The steering provides a brilliant degree of feedback, meaning you do know exactly where the front two tyres are heading. For a large sedan, the Legacy does possess a fun side: You could throw it hard into, say, a tight left-hander, and gladly the Legacy seems to flow around it. At the same time, body movement is well controlled, far from wallowing; undeniably however, it does feel a little softer next to the Mazda 6.

Since we’re at the topic of enthusiastic driving, the Legacy’s CVT ‘box behaves more like a torque-converter unit instead. Using the paddle-shifter to downshift, you could actually feel it going down every gear with engine brakes kicking in as well — this is contrary to most other CVTs seen elsewhere. I’m still wondering what sort of sorcery is this, Subaru… But it’s good.

In terms of interior, Subaru took the minimalist approach this time around. The control buttons are well placed with clear labels ensuring you do not need a year to get acquainted. Here’s another surprise: It comes standard with premium Harman/Kardon speaker system as well, matched to a multimedia head-unit. In an unfortunate turn of events, GPS is not standard here and that is a shame considering how it is standard fitment even in a Corolla Altis.

The steering is brilliantly sized and the cockpit is spot-on — it’s rather easy for any driver to immediately find their optimum driving position. For the rest of the cabin, you get comfortable seats that doesn’t feel overly padded (this should shame even the 5 Series), a rear bench which accommodate up to three adults with generous amount of head and legroom and lastly, build quality that undoubtedly feels premium.

As you’ve read in this review, the Subaru Legacy has so many good things going on for it; I rarely put this across, but it must be said that Subaru has done a laudable job this time around with their large family sedan. Technically speaking, they have everything covered, and it even delivers a balanced amount of both comfort and sportiness.

So please, before you dismiss this Subaru, it would be a highly intelligent decision to give it a closer look. I’m not gaining any sort of commercial benefit from Subaru by saying this, but the Legacy 2.5i-S here is one of the best all-rounder your money could buy for less than $130k.