Tested: 2010 Subaru Legacy 2.0i Premium

The sensible Scooby

What wonderfully changing weather we’ve had recently, hopefully spring will grace us with an extended presence before the agony of summer sets in. Yes, you may safely assume that I dislike summer and yes, you may safely assume that I am waffling severely.

The reason I indulged in weather-laced small talk is that I’m finding it incredibly difficult to even get started on the review of our latest test subject, the Subaru Legacy 2.0i Premium. The words sensible, affordable, boring, rental and car come to mind; in that order.

Having gotten that out of my system, I fear the wrath of many a proud Subaru agent and fan who’ll defend the entry-level Legacy with the same determination as a blue pink ‘n gold STi. And therein lies the 2-litre Legacy’s primary problem – it just seems too bland and restrained for a Scooby.

The 2-litre Impreza suffered from a similar affliction in that it was a sensible and semi-involving drive, but lacked the brutal punch of its turbo siblings to wake the hair on the back of your neck. And the Legacy 2.0i is no different.

A few months ago I tested the Legacy GT with its WRX-derived 2.5-litre turbo-charged Boxer engine shoving 195kw (265hp) through a smooth automatic gearbox and now I got to test the vegetarian edition. It has a 110kW (150hp) 2-litre Boxer engine and a 6-speed manual gearbox.

The best metaphor I could come up with to compare the two cars is jetting off to Europe in Business Class and returning in the perils of Economy. Same company, same duration, same transport, huge savings, com-plete-ly different.

Although the 2-litre has identical (and generous) proportions inside and out, that’s where the comparison ends. The GT had meaner bumpers, darker headlights and a hood-scoop adorning its agreeable shape. Last but definitely not least, it had very large and very beautiful alloy wheels filling out its arches/shoulders.

The cheapest Legacy model doesn’t. Its regular wheels look somewhat forlorn on the car and (when considering its beefier brother) make the car look like a skinny dude in a muscle shirt. Before I reload my assault with Legacy GT bullets, perhaps I should rephrase my criticism…

The entry-level model is really not that bad. The worst thing I can say about it is that (just like the Impreza) you should be happy with your purchase as long as you avoid driving the dearer turbo-car at all costs.

Its exterior shape is modern although not really helped by our test car’s beige paint job. The interior is tailored on A6 / 5-Series measurements and reasonably well constructed with decent materials. An Audi or BMW it isn’t, but then it costs half the price.

Explore its innards and you may discover the obligatory power windows, mirrors, sunroof and steering, as well as dual-zone climate control, cruise control, electronic park brake, adjustable steering wheel with satellite buttons, multiple airbags, 12V sockets, a few cup holders and storage binnacles.

Music is offered via an RDS radio with in-dash 6-disc CD changer, mp3/wma capability, AUX/ipod input, speed dependent volume control and 6 surround speakers. The Legacy 2.0i Premium also has anthracite leather seats (electrically adjustable in the front) and ISOFIX mountings.

Safety is served by ABS-assisted brakes with active brake assist, electronic brake-force distribution, vehicle dynamics control, speed sensitive steering, McPherson and multilink suspension, plus that Subaru hallmark named Symmetrical All Wheel Drive.

This bragging right uses a viscous-coupling locking centre differential to (and I quote) send torque to whichever wheel needs it the most. In plain English that means that the Legacy (or any Subaru, really) is glued to the road with safety-orientated handling and phenomenal levels of grip.

The 150 horsies under this car’s bonnet do their utmost but will never flummox the car’s drive-train in real-world driving conditions. Even if the 265hp GT version didn’t exist, it wouldn’t take you long to determine that the Legacy’s chassis can easily deal with much more power.

The 2-litre flat-4 engine’s 196Nm of torque somehow disappoint but it loves to yodel beyond the 4000rpm mark where most of its power resides. Thanks to the 6-speed manual ‘box it permits you to abuse this rev-happiness or float along smoothly and economically.

Average consumption should be around 9L/100km, 0-100km/h takes 9.5 seconds and maximum velocity is 210km/h. The 2-litre Legacy is diligent, comfy, well equipped, not exactly slow but not exactly as fast as one would expect from a Subaru. I guess it’s the sensible choice.

Its sensible price is N$299 000 and you’ll receive a rational 3-year 100 000km warranty as well as a logical 3-year 63 000km maintenance plan. I do believe that the words sensible and Subaru are mutually exclusive though…

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