For the Lib­erty fra­ter­nity

Here’s the first look at next year’s new Sooby sedan

Mercury (Hobart) - Motoring - - NEWS - PAUL GOVER CHIEF RE­PORTER paul.gover@cars­guide.com.au

YOU are look­ing at more than just the new Subaru Lib­erty.

The car be­ing un­veiled in Chicago this morn­ing, Aus­tralian time, is also a turn­ing point for the com­pany.

It’s ei­ther turn­ing all the way to Amer­ica, where Subaru’s new gen­er­a­tion of SUVs has done noth­ing for de­sign but ev­ery­thing for sales num­bers and prof­its, or it is be­ing pointed back down the Euro-Jap path it helped pi­o­neer along­side the orig­i­nal Honda Ac­cord Euro.

The signs are promis­ing for a Euro re­vival with the re­turn of the class and qual­ity that once marked a Subaru as some­thing spe­cial, be­fore the grey days of the global fi­nan­cial cri­sis and dumbed-down en­gi­neer­ing and stripped-out cab­ins. But (and it’s a big but) Subaru has not given us much in re­cent times. And that’s a worry.

The lat­est Im­preza is wor­thy but dull, the WRX looks like un­der­de­liv­er­ing on over-hyped prom­ises, and we’re not sure whether even the com­ing STI will have the im­pact that gave those three letters such a cult fol­low­ing.

“The Lib­erty is a car that’s syn­ony­mous with the suc­cess of Subaru. I think this is a very wor­thy next-gen­er­a­tion Lib­erty,” Subaru Aus­tralia man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Nick Se­nior tells Cars­guide.

“It’s a very im­por­tant car. The first Lib­erty was in 1989, so it’s been 25 years.”

The new Lib­erty, or Legacy as it’s called ev­ery­where but Aus­tralia, was pre­viewed as a con­cept at the Los An­ge­les mo­tor show in De­cem­ber and the for­mal pre­sen­ta­tion in Chicago re­flects the im­por­tance of US buy­ers. The fi­nal pro­duc­tion car looks al­most iden­ti­cal to the con­cept — un­like the WRX, which lost the gee-whiz fac­tor from its con­cept tease — with a bold body that also has some el­e­gance and front-end im­pact.

It will not ar­rive in Aus­tralia for nearly a year, a de­lay that’s partly down to the de­ci­sion by Fuji Heavy In­dus­tries to fo­cus on pro­duc­tion at Lafay­atte in In­di­ana for left‒hand drive cars and the push for ever‒in­creas­ing US sales.

The 2015 Lib­erty pack­age is built from a four-door sedan body with sim­i­lar di­men­sions to the ex­ist­ing car. Subaru says there is more shoul­der, el­bow, waist and rear legroom, the front seats are mounted higher for bet­ter ac­cess, and vi­sion is im­proved with wind­screen pil­lars pushed for­ward, fron­tquar­ter win­dows and mir­rors mounted on the doors.

Subaru prom­ises more qual­ity and com­fort in a pack­age de­vel­oped un­der the theme “The fu­sion of de­sign and en­gi­neer­ing at a high level”.

There is no tech­ni­cal de­tail yet from Chicago but the car will be avail­able with 2.5‒litre four and 3.6‒litre six‒cylin­der petrol engines, at least in the US, with man­ual and CVT gear­boxes linked to the brand’s sig­na­ture all‒wheel‒drive.

There is ac­tive torque vec­tor­ing for im­proved cor­ner­ing per­for­mance. The chas­sis has been com­pletely re­vamped with more body rigid­ity for bet­ter ride con­trol and re­duced noise.

Subaru is mak­ing big claims on the safety front, from dou­ble‒cham­ber airbags for im­proved oc­cu­pant pro­tec­tion through to im­proved Eye­sight tech with rear cross‒traf­fic alert.

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