Oct 20 2008 Peter Hayward
Legacy is Subaru's real champion
SUBARU'S premier brand name is Impreza, with all the rallying razzamatazz that goes with such feisty turbocharged models.
But the larger Legacy is also a marvellous car - if in a completely different way.
It is more relaxed and comfortable, while still managing superb handling and roadholding helped by its permanent four-wheel drive.
Even with that 4WD the Legacy is cheaper new than rivals' 2WD models and it also holds value better, so good cheap ones are quite hard to find.
Owners love it and in one JD Power satisfaction survey the marque came out number one.
The last series is right up there with the very best in almost every way. Engines are 2.0 and 2.5-litre flat fours and a 3.0-litre flat six - and very recently an excellent 2.0-litre flat four diesel was added.
All engines are available in both stylish saloon and load lugger estate, while Outback models have raised suspension for better rough terrain ability.
The light easy clutch complements a slick changing gearbox and the brakes are well up to holding everything in check.
There is room for five in comfort, the boot is big and standard equipment is very generous.
Price : Pay about £4,700 for an '03 53-reg S saloon, £6,500 for an '05 05-reg base model auto or £9,400 for an '06 06-reg RE estate.
Mechanical : 135bhp, 1,998cc, 4cyl petrol engine driving four wheels via 5spd manual gearbox
Max speed : 122mph
0-62mph : 9 secs
Combined mpg : 36
Insurance group : 11
Marks : 10/10
Main rival : Audi A4 quattro