Legacy is almost legendary
Subaru has improved on its previous incarnations, but it's the little things that annoyed Campbell Spray. Care to hazard a guess what they were?
THERE'S a rather crude country singer called Rodney Carrington who has a line that goes: "It's those little things like that that **** me off."
I felt rather like that after a week driving the Subaru Legacy 2.0 diesel saloon. This is a really comfortable, impressively built and good-looking car that has brilliant road-holding courtesy of its all-wheel drive system. In many respects it is a real contender in the executive market for people who want a well-engineered marque that is rather different and has some of the best traction in the business. While its price of €34,995 is far more than the run-of-the-mill brands, this well-equipped car does deserve at least a tilt at the main premium brands.
Yet those little things are out there ready to trip people up. In the Legacy's case, I expected it to be the marque's diesel which was introduced a couple of years ago after the brand had been dragged kicking and screaming away from its superb petrol heritage. But no, nearly all the relatively small complaints I had at that time have been ironed out and the new engine is a delight with all the flexibility I could wish. My issue was more mundane. For some reason, the emergency hazard lights kept coming on. After about the 10th time I realised what was happening. When I change gear I tend to use the back of my hand to nudge the stick into position. So, especially when I was wearing gloves and changing to first, third or fifth, my fingers would brush the hazard switch and activate the lights to the consternation of other road users.
Of course, over time I would have trained my hand to hold the stick differently but such things are annoying and set you wondering about other things that may not have been properly thought out. The lack of parking sensors on cars this size isn't acceptable and again lets down the new Legacy.
However, on the plus side, the new car is massively bigger than its predecessor. This is as it should be as there is a very significant price "walk". The space between the front seats has grown 30mm and between the front and rear seats a not insignificant 62mm.
With some delight Subaru tell you that 53 CDs can be stored between the glovebox and the double-decked centre console -- plus six in the playing unit -- while the front door pockets will take a 50mm-thick box of tissues.
The very shiny black test car did look very executive and the colour downplayed the air extractor on the front bonnet. In many ways this was a pity as the car didn't stand out for having the very strong pedigree and driving credentials for which Subaru is renowned. However, I was pleased to hear that the marque is doing well since the beginning of the year. It is the brand I would most like to be driving when the weather gets rough. This fifth-generation Legacy was quiet, refined and very capable. However, I would never buy one because of that annoying fault of having the gear stick just that fraction of an inch too close to the hazard lights.