SUBARU LIB­ERTY 2.5I PREMIUM

Ja­pan takes on Europe in the bat­tle of the mid-siz­ers. Richard Black­burn picks a win­ner.

Herald Sun - Motoring - - HEAD TO HEAD -

VALUE

Subaru lopped $4000 off the Lib­erty when it launched in De­cem­ber last year. The Premium model costs $6000 more than the stan­dard 2.5i but gets leather, a big­ger cen­tre screen, sat­nav, sun­roof, fog lights, heated, elec­tric front seats and smart key. Pres­tige paint is free, it costs $700 on the VW. Capped ser­vic­ing is ex­pen­sive, cost­ing $2215 over three years for six ser­vices.

DE­SIGN-TECH

Subaru has lifted its game lately. Cabin sur­faces are softer to the touch, the leather looks and feels bet­ter and the cen­tre screen on the dash has a more co­he­sive look. The in­fo­tain­ment menus are easy to nav­i­gate and the voice ac­ti­va­tion for the phone is easy

to use. Rear leg room and boot are smaller than Pas­sat.

EN­GINE

The 2.5-litre four-cylin­der is rea­son­ably quiet and re­fined at lower revs but can get a bit rau­cous when pushed hard. The con­tin­u­ously vari­able trans­mis­sion is one of the best around. Out­puts of 129kW and 235Nm are av­er­age for the class and ac­cel­er­a­tion off the mark isn’t great. The stop-start sys­tem is un­ob­tru­sive and it gets a claimed 7.3 litres per 100km, al­though in heavy traf­fic we saw 12s.

SAFETY

A strong suit for the Lib­erty as all mod­els get stan­dard au­to­matic emer­gency brak­ing, which can avoid low-speed crashes. It also has seven airbags, a re­vers­ing cam­era and seat­belt re­minders for all five seats. Con­stant all-wheel-drive is an­other safety net. Scored five stars and 35.99 points out of 37 in ANCAP crash tests.

DRIV­ING

The Lib­erty feels se­cure through the bends and is not eas­ily up­set by mid-cor­ner bumps and cor­ru­ga­tions. It leans more than the VW through cor­ners but still has plenty of grip and gets its power down well. The steer­ing is ac­cu­rate but doesn’t feel as sharp as the Volk­swa­gen. Around town the ride is com­fort­able for the most part, but can jar over sharp-edged pot­holes.

$35,490 19.0pts

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