New Car/Review

Subaru

The Subaru Legacy 2.5 GT Limited, Much more Sport than Utility Sedan

by Larry Weitzman

Subaru Full Line factory footage (10:22) 28.8, 56k or 200k

After being familiar with the Paul Hogan's Subaru Outback and it's not so baby brother the Forester, It would seem out of character for Subaru to build a fun GT car. I should say more fun GT car, because every Subaru has some fun in it.

The GT is based on the Legacy four-door sedan. Subaru calls it an SUS (sport utility sedan). To that platform, Subaru added some nifty things to an already great car. Most noticeable are the great looking 16-inch wheels that are shod with some meaty low profile 205/55 H rated Bridgestone Potenzas. "H" ratings mean that these tires are rated for a continuous 130 mph. Please don't test the tires without the use of a professional driver on a test track. The tire ratings are accurate.

The state of art fully independent suspension with front and rear stabilizer bars has been sport tuned and the four wheel disc brakes have standard ABS with special twin piston calipers in the front. Add a hood scoop, appropriate badging, rear spoiler and aerodynamic ground effects bodywork and you have a GT.

The engine mechanicals are identical to the Legacy Outback. The GT is powered by Subaru's 2.5L DOHC horizontally opposed (flat) four. Sometimes referred to as a boxer motor (like Porsches), this silk motor puts out a capable 165 hp at 5,600 rpm and 162 lb-ft of torque at 4000 rpm.

It's connected to an optional ($800) four speed electronic automatic that drives all four wheels all the time. This car grips the road like super glue between your fingers. With power always transferred to the wheel with the most traction, you have to work very hard to break it loose. It is balanced and connected.

My usual drive of Green Valley and Bass Lake was supplemented with a trip down Highway 193 and Rock Creek Road. This Subaru goes around the twisties with aplomb. The thick leather steering wheel combined with superb steering feel adds to driver confidence. There is little body lean and bumps in the corners do nothing to effect the suspension geometry.

Even with its slighter tighter ride, Ponderosa Road was smooth with none of the coarseness allowed inside. The bumps and washboard caused little upset or ruffled feathers. Its overall ride is supple, well controlled and very smooth. On the freeway tar strips are a non event.

The overall size of the GT fits neatly between the Civic/ Corolla and the Accord/Camry. It rides on a 103.5-inch wheelbase with an overall length of 181.5 inches. However, the high quality of the interior and tightness of the body give it a big car feel.

The inside is wrapped in leather, on the seats, steering wheel and the shift lever. The seats are similar to the Outback. They are nice shaped with generous support. The rear seats are very comfortable for two and not bad for three. The center section offers plenty of padding to protect one's backside. What really stands out is the copious amount of rear leg room. It would be a very relaxing place to spend a few hours.

The rear back seat is a 60/40 fold down, so large, trunk items such a skis can be carried internally with the ability to still carry two people in the back. The trunk is nicely shaped and has a volume of 12.6 cubic feet.

The door paneling has no hard plastic. It has a soft touch feel with padded inserts.

The dash also is covered in energy absorbing material. It feels good to the touch and adds to the safety. The pod in front of the driver contains a large speedo and tach with flanking fuel and temp gauges. Warning lights and vehicle systems information are also contained within the pod.

In the center pod are the simple and easy to use air conditioning controls above a standard sound system that comes with a single play C/D and tape cassette. The am/fm stereo radio receiver also contains a weather band. A nice feature. The high performance six-speaker sound system with two special high mounted tweeters won't disappoint the music lover.

Nice music can also be heard from under the hood when called upon. The 0-60 time of 9.3 seconds was slightly quicker than the Outback (9.5 seconds). An extra hundred or so pounds of weight in the Outback may be the explanation. Passing performance was also nearly identical. 50-70 took 6 seconds and 50 to 70 uphill took 9.5 seconds. To make those times I had to manually shift the four speed electronic automatic into second gear to take advantage of the Subaru's power band which really starts cooking at about 3800 rpm.

The five-speed manual (an $800 savings) would improve these times by about a half a second.

The Subaru will also reward you at the gas dispenser. EPA rated 21/26 with automatic, I estimate about 23-25 in El Dorado County. On the freeway, 26-30 should be the norm at 70 mph. With its 15.9-gallon fuel tank, a cruising range of 400 miles is easily obtainable.

I really like the look of the Outback and I think Subaru has done a masterful job with respect to the GT. I think it is unique is shape and the added touches give this car some real character. It's low slung and very aggressive.

The car I drove was in beautiful black granite pearl. I also like the rio red, but the wrong people may notice that color. Maybe white is less obtrusive.

The price of admission for this GT is $24,895 plus destination of $495. There are no options that I would buy, except for keyless entry at $225. Everything else that I would want is standard, from the moon roof to the great sound system with a C/D player.

This car with a smaller 2.2L (137 hp) version of the 2.5L four is available for well under $20,000. It too comes with loads of standard equipment including all wheel drive and even better fuel mileage.

SPECIFICATIONS

Price                                      $19,690-about $26,000
Engine 
   2.5L DOHC Flat                          4165 hp @ 5,600 rpm
                                           162 lb-ft of torque @ 4,000 rpm
Transmission
                                           4 speed electronically
                                           controlled automatic
                                           5 speed manual

DIMENSIONS

Wheelbase                                  103.5  inches
Length                                     181.5  inches
Width                                      67.5   inches
Height                                     55.3   inches
Fuel Capacity                              15.9   gallons
Curb Weight                                3165   pounds

PERFORMANCE

0-60                                       9.3  seconds
50-70                                      6.0  seconds
50-70 uphill                               9.5  seconds
Top Speed                                  110 limited by electronic governor
                                           The tires are safe.
                                           Fuel Econ21/26 mpg (auto) city/hwy, my
                                           estimate 23-25 mpg in El Dorado
                                           County, 26-30 mpg steady 65-70 mph
                                           highway

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