An extensive but subtle facelift, premium-class interior, retuned suspension and an innovative ‘three engines in one’ drive system for the 245 PS 3.0 litre models are just some of the highlights for the 2007 range of Legacy saloon, Sports Tourer and crossover Outback range.
Originally launched for the ’04 model year – and aimed unashamedly at the leading premium European marques – the ’07 Legacy boasts outstanding all-wheel drive chassis dynamics, high equipment levels and spacious interiors with prices substantially undercutting its rivals.
For example, the facelifted range starts at £17,995 on-the-road for the 165 PS Legacy 2.0R saloon which – like the rest of the models – will become available throughout the autumn.
This ‘entry level’ Legacy saloon and Sports Tourer is anything but basic and boasts high equipment levels including dual-zone climate-control, cruise control, front, side and curtain airbags, a leather MOMO steering wheel, 215/45 tyres on 17 x 7 ins alloy wheels, HID headlamps with pop-out washers, electrically-folding door mirrors, a six-disc in-dash CD player with MP3 facility, front projector foglamps and – of course, Subaru’s acclaimed symmetrical all-wheel drive system.
Sure to delight driving enthusiasts – and also the economy-conscious – is the innovative new SI-Drive (Subaru Intelligent Drive) system, standard on all 3.0 litre models. This comprises the manual or automatic transmission Legacy 3.0R spec.B saloon and Sports Tourer and automatic-only Outback 3.0R and Rn.
SI-Drive allows the driver to select three completely different engine-response programmes allowing him or her to choose between economy, normal or sporty characteristics depicted as ‘Intelligent’, ‘Sport’ or ‘Sport Sharp’. The modes are selected by a round dial on the centre console or via buttons on the steering wheel.
Intelligent Mode optimises the fuel consumption of the 245 PS horizontally-opposed six-cylinder engine by conserving power and providing the driving efficiency of a good 2.0 litre petrol engine. Most useful in gentle city driving or for long-distance cruising, ‘Intelligent Mode’ gives a soft throttle response, smooth driving characteristics and eliminates wasteful use of fuel.
‘Intelligent Mode’ is best matched to the automatic transmission versions which change up early into the highest gear possible and only ‘kick-down’ when the accelerator is firmly pushed.
Another aid to fuel economy is an ECO gauge installed in the lower portion of the speedometer. This illustrates the difference between current and average MPG.
The multi-function display also provides fuel economy read-outs, while the manual-transmission Legacy 3.0R spec.B has a shift-up indicator to promote more economical driving.
Sport Mode provides the best day-to-day compromise for open road driving. It gives a linear throttle response, achieving a good balance between lively acceleration for brisk overtaking and refined overall use. ‘Sport Mode’ allows the driver to enjoy a more sensitive connection between his right foot and the engine, allowing for a precise interpretation of his or her required level of performance.
Sport Sharp Mode offers the ultimate accelerator response, releasing the full potential of the engine. On automatic versions it will ‘kick-down’ at the slightest tickle of the accelerator pedal and eagerly holds on to a lower gear until the rev-limit when needed, giving the sensation of a massive power boost.
All 3.0 litre models now have conveniently-placed paddle-shifts on each side of the steering wheel. This allows the driver to manually change up or down for instant response – useful when travelling on a fast, twisty and unfamiliar B-road where rapid control is essential.
This system also has a downshift blipping control which momentarily raises engine revs for smoother gear-changes which can be made between 20 and 40 per cent quicker.
All ’07 Legacy and Outbacks have a sporty, distinctive new look aimed at further enhancing their road presence. Meanwhile, interiors are further refined for a prestige look and feel.
For example, the new grille on the Legacy has a chrome wing-like motif, while the front wings are new and feature a crease-line which flows from the top of the ‘hawk-eye’ HID headlamps.
The crossover Outback has its own front grille with a chunky, lattice-effect look. As before, the higher-riding Outback has twin raised flutes to its bonnet and neatly integrated side protection cladding and wheelarch mouldings for a rugged image.
Every model has new bumpers, with the high-performance Legacy 3.0R spec.B boasting corner spoilers which make the car look aggressive and low-slung.
At the rear, the Legacy Sports Tourer now has three-dimensional rear lamps with a chrome strip linking each lamp to give an impression of width.
The rear of the saloon is even more different and features smaller rear lamps set higher, underlined by chrome strips. Stylish, vertical rear fog lamps are set low down in the rear bumper making the car look sporty and ground-hugging.
Ultra-low Cd figures of 0.28 for the saloon and 0.30 for the Sports Tourer (0.34 for the Outback) prove the worth of such detailing, helped by special engine undercovers, spoilers and wheel flaps.
Even the wheel designs are new throughout. The Legacy 3.0R spec.B, for example, now has 10-spoke 18 x 7 ins wheels with a classy-looking smoked high-lustre finish.
The ’07 Legacy and Outback’s prestige interior is further refined with aluminium-effect strips running the full width of the fascia, flowing out ‘wing-like’ from the centre panel. This accentuates the width but also cocoons the driver.
Soft-touch trim is extensively used and standard features include electrically-adjustable driver and front passenger seats with two-set memory function for the former.
The leather-covered steering wheel is now smooth instead of dimpled making it more pleasant to hold, while all models now feature reach as well as rake-adjustment. Audio and cruise-controls are neatly integrated into the steering wheel.
All automatic transmission 3.0 litre models now have convenient paddle-shifts behind the steering wheel allowing rapid manual up and down gear-changing with automatic throttle ‘blipping’ for smoother down-changes.
The standard climate-control is now not only dual-zone allowing different temperatures for either side but there are also rear-seat outlets.
The centre console is new and features either one or two circular cup-holder recesses matched by a circular surround to the gear-lever. A sophisticated blue light encircles the cup-holders on 3.0 litre models.
Recognising their appeal to country-dwellers and those with an active lifestyle, Outback models now have a reversible cargo floor allowing the choice between carpeted luxury or a hard waterproof floor.
Other improvements for ’07 include ‘punchier’ engine response at low to medium speeds for the 245 PS 3.0 litre engine fitted to the Legacy and Outback.
Although the 219 lb ft of torque at 4,200 rpm remains the same, pulling power is greater all the way from idle to 3,500 rpm, being especially higher at 3,000 rpm – the most useable range in day-to-day driving.
This improves throttle response and ‘real world’ fuel economy, making the car ‘punchier’ to drive, allowing a higher gear to be selected earlier in the acceleration process.
The 3.0 litre’s torque improvement is thanks to revisions to the intake/exhaust camshaft profile and improved exhaust port shape for better gas flow.
As before, the Legacy spec.B saloon is the fastest of the 3.0 litre models with a top speed of 151 mph and 0-60 mph time of 6.5 seconds.
Official fuel economy is virtually identical to ’06 models. The Legacy and Outback 3.0 litre automatic models, for example, give 38.2 mpg on the Ex
tra Urban Cycle.
Steering and handling precision plus ride comfort have been improved throughout the range. The rear suspension geometry is changed while the body is more rigid, especially around the front suspension mounts and frame supports.
In addition, 3.0 litre models have extra stays between the A-posts and door sills which further enhance body strength and therefore steering response and general stability.
On the Outback, the front and rear dampers have been softened for an even better ride while all models enjoy a weight reduction to the rear suspension yet have stronger mounting points.
The ’07 Legacy and Outback are the first Subaru models to debut a mechanical brake support system. This senses an emergency situation and applies additional brake pressure if it feels the driver is not pressing the pedal hard enough.