S 2

The Courier-Mail - Motoring - - Cover Story -

more than the Skoda af­ter three years.

The Lib­erty is also bet­ter equipped than the two Ger­mans. A re­cent update has brought stan­dard blind spot and lane de­par­ture warn­ing, as well as rear cross traf­fic alert — handy for back­ing out of the drive.

Added to those is au­to­mated emergency brak­ing, which can de­tect pedes­tri­ans and cy­clists and brake to avoid them. It also gets a stan­dard sun­roof.

But the Lib­erty is smaller and not as fun to drive as these ri­vals. The 2.5-litre engine is down on power and torque in this com­pany and the con­tin­u­ously vari­able trans­mis­sion isn’t as slick and swift as the dual-clutch au­tos on the Skoda and VW.

Not that the Subaru is a slouch on the road. It grips tena­ciously and re­cent re­vi­sions to the sus­pen­sion have im­proved the ride with­out sac­ri­fic­ing cor­ner­ing abil­ity. It set­tles well over bumps and sits flat through the bends, al­though the steer­ing is un­evenly weighted at times.

In­side, the cabin is dark but well ap­pointed, with per­fo­rated leather seats and fully au­to­matic driver and front pas­sen­ger seats (al­though only the driver gets an auto-up win­dow). Rear leg and head­room are the tight­est here, while the boot is also smaller, with a nar­rower port when the rear seats are folded.

Ser­vic­ing is ex­pen­sive but you get six ser­vices to three on the VW and Skoda. The Passat feels the most up­mar­ket of the three, with ribbed leather cush­ions on the seats, a chunky, flat-bot­tomed steer­ing wheel and classy fauxmetal high­lights on the dash and door trims.

The en­ter­tain­ment and sat­nav setup is easy to op­er­ate and the in­stru­ment panel dis­plays a wealth of in­for­ma­tion in front of the driver, re­duc­ing the need to look away to check sat­nav di­rec­tions, ra­dio choices and phone menus.

It trumps the Skoda with key­less en­try and push-but­ton start and one tester com­pared the cabin favourably with the re­cently re­leased Audi A4.

On the road, it’s the same story. The cabin is quiet and the sus­pen­sion is un­ruf­fled by bumps, pot­holes and mid­corner cor­ru­ga­tions. The steer­ing is sharp.

The engine, while less pow­er­ful than the Skoda, de­liv­ers rapid progress. It’s helped by to a seven-speed twin-clutch auto that keeps it in the right rev range to make the most of its torque.

It is more en­gag­ing than the Subaru and slightly more re­fined in its power de­liv­ery than the Skoda. It is also the All three are qual­ity cars and sep­a­rat­ing them isn’t easy.

The Passat has the most taste­ful cabin and is the most fru­gal but both the Subaru and the Skoda eclipse it on value for money.

The Skoda is the best car here — it’s al­most a size up on the other two with more power and per­for­mance. It’s the one we’d pre­fer to drive if some­one else was pay­ing the bills and tak­ing the resid­ual risk.

But the com­bi­na­tion of a sharper price, more equip­ment and bet­ter value as a used car means the Lib­erty is the one we’d rec­om­mend.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.