Over and above detailing and specification changes to its Legacy range, Subaru SA has beefed up the car by adding two 3,0-litre six-cylinder models. Will the rejuvenated AWD Legacy line-up make the (primarily German) opposition marques rest uneasy?

Over and above detailing and specification changes to its Legacy range, Subaru SA has beefed up the car by adding two 3,0-litre six-cylinder models. Will the rejuvenated AWD Legacy lineup make the (primarily German) opposition marques rest uneasy?


The 3,0R was unveiled at Auto Africa. Both manual and automatic transmission versions are powered by a 24-valve quad-camshaft H6 powerplant with variable valve timing and variable valve lift. With a peak power output of 180 kW at 6 600 revs/min and maximum torque of 297 N.m at 4 200 r/min, the big-bore, short-stroke engine is claimed to be the most powerful normally-aspirated 3,0-litre petrol unit on the local market.


The 3,0R Spec B is fitted with an extensively-revised version of the six-speed gearbox used in the Impreza WRX STi. Almost half the parts - including the clutch, gearshift mechanism, and casing – were redesigned for application in the Legacy. Subaru SA claim the model will sprint from zero to 100 km/h in 6,98 seconds, complete the standing kilometre in 27,2 seconds and reach a top speed is 243 km/h.


The Spec B version is fitted with a mechanical torque split system which uses a viscous limited-slip centre differential that normally allocates the torque 50/50 front/rear, but will alter the balance if one pair of wheels rotates faster than the other. Spring rates and suspension geometry have been fine-tuned to give the car a strong sporting bent, with more rake (a slight nose-down attitude) than other Legacys to enhances turn-in characteristics.


The SportShift five-speed transmission version uses a gearbox similar to the unit found in the GT and Outback H6. Subaru claims the auto 3,0R will sprint from zero to 100 km/h in about eight seconds and achieve a top speed of 237 km/h in top gear.


The automatic model is fitted with an electronically-controlled variable torque distribution centre differential, which normally sends 55 per cent of the torque to the rear wheels, but is capable of diverting up to half of the available torque to the front wheels if necessary. In a similar vein, Subaru’s Vehicle Dynamics Control monitors the car’s steering angle, lateral and longitudinal G-forces etc to maintain the ideal combination of individual wheel braking, torque reduction and gear selection while the car negotiates a corner.


Both manual and automatic variants use a viscous-type limited-slip rear differential to distribute torque left and right depending on the grip available, a Subaru spokesman said.


Both manual and auto models are sold in Premium Class trim, which includes sunroof, full leather interior, a 12-speaker in-car entertainment system (includes a separate amplifier and 20-centimetre subwoofer linked to an in-dash six-CD shuttle), and electrically-adjustable front seats.


The Spec B model has black leather trim, and the SportShift has ivory leather with woodgrain trim on the door panels. The same trim material is also used to frame the hangdown section of the centre console. A matt-look silvered finish is used on the Spec B.


A Momo steering wheel is fitted to both, but the SportShift’s version has up/down gearchange buttons on both horizontal spokes (which will override the gearbox even when it is in Drive), though the driver still has the additional option of swopping cogs via the sequential shift slot to the right of the conventional gearlever gate.


From the outside, 3,0R models differ from their smaller-engined stablemates by having chrome grille surrounds and chrome strips along the sills. The models also have a revised front bumper/valance assembly, with three separate elements. A compact central air intake is positioned directly below the grille, flanked by narrow horizontal inserts that are defined at their outer extremities by small, circular fog lamps.


Meanwhile, a throbbing 190 kW manual version of the 2,0-litre GT has also been added to the lineup. The turbocharged and intercooled 2,0-litre 16-valve four is tuned to deliver 190 kW and 330 N.m of torque – figures that Subaru claims help it to a top speed of 223 km/h and a zero to 100 km/h time of 5,8 seconds.


It is trimmed in full leather, a high-end McIntosh sound system, sunroof and electrically-adjustable driver’s seat.


Detail changes to all 2005 Outback and Legacy models include a revised steering wheel volume control with a “one-touch” function on models so equipped, a fuel consumption indicator that now provides a litres/100 km reading (rather than the km/litre previously shown), side airbags on all models (Premium Class models also have curtain airbags), speed-sensing wipers that default to a variable intermittent mode below 45 km/h, and a smooth, more modern “silvered” trim material for the doors and hangdown centre console.


Prices:

2,0 GT manual R346 000

3,0R manual R364 000

3,0R Sportshift R357 000


The Impreza range was recently updated with the addition of saloon and sportwagon versions of the 2,5-litre RS version and updates to the WRX and WRX Sti for the 2005 model year. The Impreza underwent suspension changes in the form of reduced unsprung weight, thicker anti-roll bars, and more rigid suspension “hard points” for improved ride, handling and steering characteristics.


In addition, the STi has wider wheels, semi-slick tyres, and Driver Controlled Centre Differential (DCCD) to exploit the hardware changes. DCCD reportedly enables the driver to dial in as much as 65 per cent of the torque to the rear wheels if he or she wants to adopt an overtly-forceful driving style.