Some cars are so nice, you would want them twice. Subaru provided us with the Subaru Legacy 3.6R, encore. Having already tested the capabilities of this solid candidate for the previous review, we knew exactly what to do to push it to its limits: a four-day trip to Acapulco. How does this car behave with five passengers, including luggage, on spaghetti-roads for hours on end? It was time to really look at the combination of practicality, comfort, performance and consumption on the long haul.
The first part of the trip led us from Mexico City to Acapulco via Route 95. This road, passing Tepoztlán, Cuernavaca, and Chilpancingo will lead you through the beautiful mountains of Morelos and Guerrero. We had no doubt the 95 would showcase the Subaru’s true potential, and it did. The slightly banked curves offered the Legacy the chance to show off its corner exit grip and acceleration, this resulted in some pretty unrestrained driving. Let it be clear that driving Subaru’s WRX STI or BRZ on this road would obviously result in even more excitement, yet remember the tough dilemma we presented the Legacy: five passengers, 200+kg of luggage, and a demand of good performance and comfort over a long distance. As hoped, the Legacy passed with flying colors.
Performance and Consumption
With all due respect, however, the Legacy will not be needing Ferrari’s Launch-Control system in the near future. Admittedly, the commuters in the back together with their luggage didn’t help, but we’d stretch to say that the Subaru isn’t that quick out of the box. Yet, when you floor it, and give it a moment to get all that mass moving, the Japanese engineering leaps out. The car feels balanced on high speed corners and wanders less to the outside of the curve than you would expect. The suspension still feels very soft, and apart from some extra rocking after bumps or holes, the whole undercarriage of the car proved cunning. On hilly terrain the Subaru’s 4WD increases the performance of the car considerably. The car does feel quite heavy sometimes, affirming the need for the 3.6 liter engine quite often, which raised questions about the performance of the 2.5 liter edition.
The 3.6R is rated at 23 mpg combined (0 mpg city, 29 mpg highway). A very accurate fuel-consumption gage does give you a good idea of how your driving style affects the economy of the car. Yet if that is your goal ultimately, you should choose the 2.5i edition over the more atmospheric 3.6R engine.
Comfort and Practicality
Thanks to applied sound-proofing and high-quality Michelin tires the interior noise was virtually non-existent, except for the peaceful snoring coming from the back seat. Subaru made good use of the space within the car, adding a lot of storage possibilities and a very practical mid-console. Also in the rear, with a lot of leg room and personalized aircon, there was little to complain about. Only one of our reviewers, a 6’2″ Dutchman, had some trouble with where to put is head when sitting up straight in the back.
A lot of features like the cruise-control, automatic gearbox (with semi-automatic option), smart rear-view mirror and 8-way seats made the car very practical overall. The only negative experience we had was that the bluetooth connection with our smartphones was quite unstable, resulting in the music to skip sometimes and volume levels changing unintentionally. Comparing it to the onboard computer of the BMW M135i – that was also coming along on the trip – Subaru has some serious ground to gain in this field. In addition, the sound of the speakers was nice, but not fabulous. This car could definitely use a renowned sound system brand like Bose or Harman/Kardon, simply because it really is that luxurious overall. A nice system would be a great addition to this already very good car.
The trunk is absolutely huge and surprised every single one of us, easily fitting our luggage. It does contribute, together with the spacious backseat, to the big body of the car. The car does give great visibility all around and because of the beautiful sights we passed, this was a welcome feature. Also the extensive list of active safety features (ADC, PCB, PCTM, VLDSW, BSD, LCA, RCTA) on this top-trim Legacy work unobtrusively.
This car is a truly great ride for long trips on variable terrain. A whole family fits comfortably and, performance wise, the car certainly did good, only showing a degradation in acceleration when fully loaded. On consumption the Legacy scores low, it is not particularly economical, but this car was not built as a dollar saver. However, it does make passengers feel safe without making it blatantly obvious. Ultimately the Legacy is ideal for a long weekend, it handled everything we threw at it with smoothness and stability.
Thanks to Subaru for making our trip just a bit that more special.
For full specs and price, click here.