SUPER-VALUE SUBARU LIBERTY

MY15 Subaru Liberty 3.6R

The imminent departure of Australia’s previous market-leading Ford Falcon and Holden Commodore family cars is opening up opportunities for a variety of mid-sized sedans that have previously sat in their sales shadow.

One of the best-known of these contenders is the Subaru Liberty which has been on sale here continuously since 1989. The latest, sixth generation, model was released late in 2014 with some styling changes, engine tweaks and extra equipment.

But the biggest news is some serious price-cutting that has seen Subaru Liberty drop below the $30,000-mark for the first time in more than 15 years. That $29,990 model is the entry-level 2.5i – down $3000 against the outgoing equivalent gen five Liberty.

There are even bigger savings in the other two variants with the price of the 2.5i Premium cut by $4000 to $35,490; and the 3.6R now selling for $41,990. That’s a whopping $14,000 down on the previous model. Additionally, all variants also come with extra features that increase the value equation.

MY15 Subaru Liberty 3.6R

Commenting on these dramatic price cuts Subaru Australia Managing Director, Nick Senior, explained that a number of factors had prompted the shift: “Most notably the exchange rate, the Japanese Free Trade Agreement and more efficient manufacturing, driving reduced costs.”

The new Liberty range has been cut back to just three models compared to the ten of the previous model. The Liberty wagon, including the Exiga seven-seater, has now been deleted – no real surprise as most wagon buyers had already switched to either the Outback or Forester. Also gone are the Liberty GT and X.

STYLING
While earlier Libertys have tended to be a bit on the bland side, the more recent models have a classy look and can hold their own with the best of their competitors. Styling changes for the gen-six model are minor, with a new more subtle front grille and raised rear quarter panels which provide a more muscular look.

Attractive 18-inch alloys are now standard on all variants.

Subaru_Liberty_interior

INTERIOR
Those moving out of larger cars will be impressed with the Liberty’s interior space which has increased marginally in all directions. It also feels larger with the A-pillar now further forward, a new front quarter window and lowered dashboard. The rear seats have been raised by 10 mm to improve passenger visibility and there’s excellent rear leg and headroom.

The 493-litre boot is well-shaped although the access space is relatively small. The spare wheel is full sized.

SAFETY
In addition to the standard range of safety features, all Liberty models now come with Subaru’s EyeSight driver assist system that provides adaptive cruise control; lane departure warning; lead vehicle start alert (a clever feature in stop/start traffic that alerts a dozy driver when the vehicle in front has moved off); pre-collision braking and brake assist system; and pre-collision throttle management.

As with almost all Subaru models the Liberty comes with all-wheel drive, hill hold and reversing camera.

New Liberty has a five-star ANCAP rating with its points tally of 35.99 (out of a maximum possible 37) being the highest ever by any Subaru.

ENGINES / TRANSMISSIONS
Two petrol engines are offered, a 2.5-litre four-cylinder and a 3.6-litre flat six. In the Subaru tradition they are both horizontally-opposed, or Boxer, units with the four generating peaks of 129 kW and 235 Nm (at 4000 rpm) and the six getting to 191 kW and 350 Nm (at 4400 revs).

The only transmission is a continuously variable (CVT) that now includes a six-step manual override operated by shift paddles.

INFOTAINMENT
The entry-level Liberty 2.5i uses a 6.2-inch touch screen and comes with Bluetooth (with intuitive pairing) phone and audio streaming; voice command recognition; and USB and Auxiliary sockets that are conveniently located at the front of the centre console for easy access.

The two Premium models get a 7-inch screen; satellite navigation; Harman Kardon audio and a second USB jack; and a 7.0-inch screen. It also allows the Pandora music app to be controlled via the touch screen.

DRIVING
Our test car was the $29,990 entry-level Liberty 2.5i. Around town and on the open road it cruised comfortably and with minimal road noise intrusion. It has the looks and the solid, reliable feel of a car from a higher price bracket.

When we loaded it up with three adults and a couple of 13-year-olds and a bootfull of soccer gear and travelled to Sydney and back along the hilly F3 motorway we did find that the combination of the four-cylinder engine and CVT meant plenty of paddle shifting to maintain momentum. For that type of workload the extra investment in the 3.6R would make sense.

Not surprisingly fuel consumption was around 3.0 litres per 100 km above the combined factory reading of 7.3 L/100 km during that segment of our test. Overall the week-long average sat at an acceptable 8.7 L/100 km.

Back on my own and buzzing along my favourite rural drive route all that was forgiven. One of the characteristics of the boxer engine is that it provides a slightly lower centre of gravity and the handling and stability of the Liberty through tight corners is excellent.

SUMMING UP
An attractive mid-sized car with all-wheel drive, high equipment levels with a starting price for a model with automatic transmission not seen since 1999 makes the new Subaru Liberty one of the best bargains going around.

Subaru is one of these carmakers who attract loyal customers and they’re sure to be joined by plenty of converts with Liberty’s combination of value and quality.

AT A GLANCE

PRICE GUIDE
Liberty 2.5i four-door sedan: $29,990 (CVT automatic) Liberty 2.5i Premium four-door sedan: $35,490 (CVT automatic) Liberty 3.6R four-door sedan: $41,990 (CVT automatic) Note: Prices do not include government or dealer charges. Contact your local Subaru dealer for driveaway pricing.

FEATURES
ABS Brakes: Standard in all models
Automatic Transmission: CVT standard in all models
Cruise Control: Standard in all models
Dual Front Airbags: Standard in all models
Front Side Airbags: Standard in all models
Electronic Stability Program: Standard in all models
Rear Parking Sensors: Standard in all models
Reversing Camera: Standard in all models
USB/Auxiliary Audio Inputs: Standard in all models
Bluetooth: Standard in all models
Steering Wheel Mounted Controls: Standard in all models

SPECIFICATIONS (Subaru Liberty 2.5i 2.5-litre five-door wagon)

ENGINE:
Capacity: 2.498 litres
Configuration: Four cylinders horizontally opposed
Head Design: DOHC, four valves per cylinder
Compression Ratio: 10.3:1
Bore/Stroke: 94.0 x 90.0mm
Maximum Power: 129 kW @ 5800rpm
Maximum Torque: 235 Nm @ 4000rpm

DRIVELINE:
Driven Wheels: All-wheel drive
Manual Transmission: Not offered
Automatic Transmission: Continuously variable
Final Drive Ratio: 3.90:1

DIMENSIONS, WEIGHT AND CAPACITIES:
Length: 4795 mm
Wheelbase: 2750 mm
Width: 1840 mm
Height: 1500 mm
Turning Circle: 11.2 metres
Kerb Mass: 1502 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: 60 litres
Towing Ability: 750 kg (1500kg with braked trailer)

SUSPENSION AND BRAKES:
Front Suspension: MacPherson struts, lower L-arms, coil springs, anti-roll bar
Rear Suspension: Double wishbone, coil springs, anti-roll bar
Front Brakes: Ventilated Disc
Rear Brakes: Ventilated Disc

PERFORMANCE: 0-100 km/h Acceleration: 9.6 seconds

CONSUMPTION:
Fuel Type: Petrol 91RON
Fuel Consumption – Combined Cycle (ADR 81/02): 7.3 L/100km

GREEN VEHICLE GUIDE RATINGS:
Greenhouse Rating: 7/10
Air Pollution Rating: 7.5/10

STANDARD WARRANTY:
Three years/unlimited km

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