SUBARU LIBERTY 2.5I PREMIUM
Japan takes on Europe in the battle of the mid-sizers. Richard Blackburn picks a winner.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.