Practicality Meets Performance – 2007 Subaru Legacy GT Spec.B

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Walking over to a Subaru Legacy doesn’t usually get my blood pumping or adrenaline going. The Subaru marqué typically conjures up visions of moving to Oregon, growing a beard or taking hikes through the redwood forest in my Birkenstocks. So, when asked to test-drive the Legacy sedan over the weekend I didn’t exactly burst into the parking lot skipping with glee. However, my experience with this sedan over the weekend would prove to be unbelievable. It has changed the way I look at Subarus… and Subaru owners…
In fact, as VehicleVoice and AutoPacific staff members drove the Legacy, opinions shifted.

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The Subaru Legacy GT Spec.B lives at the top of the Subaru food chain and does for the Legacy what the WRX STI did for the Impreza. It gives consumers a performance option and turns this four-door sedan into the ultimate Legacy. Relatively the same size as a Mazda6 the Legacy Spec.B is a fairly refined sport sedan with an edge.


The Ultimate ‘Sleeper’?

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Aesthetically, this four door sedan may be a little on the boring side but at the heart of the Spec.B lives a turbo-charged 2.5 Liter horizontally opposed engine pumping out 243 horsepower and 241 lb. Feet of torque. The ‘Boxer’ 4 is mated to a tight six-speed manual transmission and although I found the shifter knob positioned a little high, it did offer short throws and precise gates. The smooth shifting tranny is linked with a fairly light clutch and Subaru’s symmetrical all-wheel-drive with a limited slip rear differential. This drivetrain provided unbelievable traction and allowed for sharper turn-in through corners.
It was very appropriate that it should rain the night I took the Subaru Spec.B home as Subaru’s are loved in inclement weather regions throughout the nation and it’s not often that it rains here in sunny southern California. The full-time ‘symmetrical’ all-wheel-drive was great and quite comforting. I did not feel any slippage or traction control issues. Through turns and around town the Spec.B remained composed with a firm but pleasant ride while providing me with valued feedback through the stock MOMO® steering wheel. I felt in tune with the road and with the vehicle, which instilled a sense of confidence.
SI-DRIVE
Another notable feature was the SI-DRIVE, which only affects drivetrain. This system includes a rotary dial mounted on the center console, providing three-modes of performance: Intelligent (I), Sport (S), and Sport Sharp (S#). This system allows the driver to manage acceleration characteristics, which in turn could translate into fuel economy. Subaru claims that it’s ‘like having three engines in one’. It may be a gimmick but you could definitely feel the difference. It essentially provided 3 different throttle calibrations and computer control maps. Intelligent mode is said to save fuel consumption by as much as 10%, with the green shift point arrow illuminating between 2K and 3K RPM. I can see how this would save fuel but in my opinion it completely neuters the driving experience and any reason for lugging around that TURBOCHARGED boxer engine. The Sport mode is the reasonable middle ground and the Sport Sharp mode is for a no holds barred experience.
Did you say Alcantara®?
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The Subaru Spec.B comes with a myriad of standard features. From the touch screen GPS navigation to the tire pressure monitoring system and a two-tone interior consisting of gray leather and blue Alcantara® inserts (Alcantara is an “ultra-microfiber” fabric that could be likened to suede). The navigation system was not as helpful as it could have been when searching for Points of Interest and although I liked the Alcantara® inserts, I would have preferred a light grey.
The Spec.B with its long list of standard features, four doors, plenty of trunk space, light clutch, and relative lack of turbo-lag could definitely be considered a versatile everyday driver. I was surprisingly pleased with the Spec.B’s performance characteristics and little extras. The Subaru Legacy GT Spec.B is one of the best four-cylinder, four door sedans I’ve ever driven. Nevertheless, with a sticker price of around $34K I think I would need to go test-drive the MazdaSpeed6 or Subaru’s WRX STI before making a purchase.
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Pros:
Fun to drive
Youthful 2.5 Turbocharged H-4 Engine
Tight 6-speed transmission
Limited Slip rear differential
Large trunk space
Nice interior for a Subaru
Symmetrical all-wheel-drive
SI-DRIVE
Attention to detail/little extras (e.g. Sun visor extensions, lumbar support, aluminum pedals, etc.)
A real hood scoop that serves as functional intake for the intercooler
Cons:
Nav system has room for improvement (specifically POI)
Poor placement of heated seat controls
Shifter knob was a little high (maybe personal preference)
Blue inserts in the seats and interior door panels (*Really liked the fabric but optional colors would be nice)

This article has 1 comment

  1. David Barrett 10/20/2006, 10:55 am:

    After reading the review of the Subaru Legacy GT SpecB, I was about to congratulate Keagan on his new desire to grow a beard and hug a tree. But then, I found a pair of keys to the very same Legacy GT Spec B in the VehicleVoice offices. So, I grabbed ’em, ducked out the back, and hopped in the car for a quick personal evaluation.

    Overall, Keagan has got it nailed. This is a nice car. For $34,000, this Legacy Spec B is quick, balanced, supportive, and pretty reasonable on fuel consumption.

    At the same time, this is not an “ideal” car. The styling externally is sleepy. So, the highway patrol won’t be lookin’ for you. At the same time, if you want a WRX Sti, you won’t look at this car.

    So, here’s my PRO and CON list (adding to Keagan’s list):

    PRO
    – Nice ride
    – Solid, supportive seats
    – Great attention to detail
    – Cool on-board computer (except NAV)
    – Truck large enough for four Tour golf bags and caddies
    – Boxer Engine

    CON
    – Lame NAV system (but love the other modes)
    – Sloppy shift-gate
    – Exterior design
    – Too few exterior color choices

    After driving this car for nearly 100 miles, it proved to be a solid performer. It’s doesn’t perform like a comparable BMW 330xi, but it’s a lot less expensive and the interior is a nice place to hang out. All in all, I’m thinking of putting my razor on eBay and taking a drive to Oregon.

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