Fac­tor

This edition gives you the Lib­erty to roam

The Courier-Mail - Motoring - - FIRST DRIVE - SA­MAN­THA STEVENS

THE feel­ing is best de­scribed as smug; driv­ing straight past the line of front-drive cars, their own­ers freez­ing and fum­bling with the manda­tory snow chains be­fore the slip­pery as­cent into the Snowy Moun­tains.

All-wheel-drive ve­hi­cles are ex­empt from this awk­ward prac­tice, and avid skiers and snow­board­ers fly past the chain-fit­ting bays in their 4WDs, and Subaru Foresters and Out­back crossovers, which are a dime a dozen on the road to Per­isher Val­ley.

In con­trast, Subaru’s top­shelf Lib­erty sedan is a rare sight — its low front spoiler, dropped sills and 18-inch rims are not suited to the snow-piled park­ing bays and steep chalet drive­ways.

This is where the new Lib­erty X vari­ant shows its strength. Jacked up by 50mm, it sits just 13mm shy of the long-legged Out­back. Its 200mm ground clear­ance gets it over steep drive­ways and gut­ters with ease, it’s easy to get into and out of and, most im­por­tantly, it’s a specced-up sedan for those not want­ing the wagon-only Out­back or a big SUV.

VALUE

The Lib­erty X is avail­able with 2.5-litre four-cylin­der or 3.6-litre six-cylin­der power, at $44,490 and $55,990 re­spec­tively. The 2.5X is matched to a con­tin­u­ously vari­able trans­mis­sion (CVT). Our test 3.6X has a five-speed au­to­matic with pad­dle-shifters.

Both fea­ture the pre­mium Lib­erty spec of auto HID head­lights, auto wipers with de-icers, two-way sun­roof, multi-func­tion touch­screen with sat­nav, Blue­tooth and re­vers­ing cam­era, leather trim with heated power front seats, and the new Eye­Sight traf­fic warn­ing sys­tem.

The X spec­i­fi­ca­tion adds a dif­fer­ent grille and front bumper de­sign, a chrome strip on the lower side skirt, a dif­fer­ent al­loy wheel pat­tern and the ad­di­tional clear­ance.

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