Thursday 23 November 2017

Subaru grows its legacy

RATING 80/100

I honestly never thought I would have a car on test with a name that coincided so precisely with a precious moment in my wider family's life. It just so happened I had the Subaru Legacy Sports Tourer.

And it just so happened that my lovely niece created something of a sports legacy on one of the days I had it. What a wonderful apposite alignment of circumstances.

We had gone off on tour, down to Clann na nGael's welcoming clubhouse and sun-drenched pitch in verdant south Roscommon to cheer her on in the All-Ireland senior football girls colleges 'B' final.

Only as I parked the car on the surging roadside grass and took in the blue skies and burgeoning bushes did the coincidence of name and event strike me: sports and legacy.

But I held my whist because we are among the most superstitious of families when it comes to heralding omens in advance.

It was an extraordinary sight to see someone of your own flesh and blood winning an All-Ireland title. Oh! the excitement of it for all concerned, and, for me, the recognition that in sport, as in life, there are winners and valiant participants who accept defeat with grace.

For that reason this Subaru estate will always be associated with that sporting legacy.

But it shouldn't need such an occasion to make an impression.

In parts it did; and in parts it didn't. But it was a willing participant.

A few weeks back I had the Subaru Outback and thought it excellent. Of course it was larger and bulkier in its own way than this. But I was less massively enthused about the Tourer. Oh, it was fine, don't get me wrong. It had the looks, size, equipment, a wonderful boot and a fine 'Boxer' diesel engine that is unique to the marque. But it did not have that solid/sportiness of handling that I so enjoyed in the larger Outback.

Nor did it have as much driving zest as I'd look for from an estate of this calibre and cost.

Yet, without doubt, it should register as one of the candidates for your cash if you are on the hunt for a big, comfortable and stylish estate with all-wheel-drive and a high, high level of equipment.

It is the sort of car that was at home on the motorway but not quite so comfortable in itself on the back roads or bumpy routes.

This Legacy now has a cabin worthy of the name, with large comfortable seats (electrically adjustable and the front ones heated, would you believe?). Strange to say, but there was a sense of upmarket about it that came across quietly and sedately as opposed to something that struck me strongly when I first sat in.

In other words it seems to blend well and therefore grew on me rather than bellowed its credentials. Like a good team, all the elements played a part.

There was oodles of room for back-seat passengers and lots of handy cubbyholes. The rear seats folded down easily for an awkward load to be carried one day, while the next they sloped back to provide a comfortable, laid-back welcome for passengers.

The engine and six-speed gearbox worked well together. Here was a combination that made covering the kilometres easy. There is no doubt that over the long stretches of motorway it was as easy to drive as any car I've had this year.

And even the wing mirrors folded for me when I had to park really tight to a wall. Yet maybe I had been spoiled by the Outback and its ability to be so solid and yet so tactile in how it handled and drove over the poorer road surfaces and contours.

Maybe this motor will still leave a lasting legacy for the motoring world to applaud. I don't know. Frankly, I feel there are better contenders from within Subaru's own ranks.

But it stands out as an accomplished piece of work and will go down as the vehicle whose name will forever spark memories of a beautiful day.

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