Reliable, practical and fun to drive
Loss of power at idle on two occasions. This happens with the gearbox in manual mode, aircon on, and some other dash electronics on. It hasn't happened in a long time, and I have not had it looked at.
In manual mode, the gearbox does not default to 1st gear when the car stops. It will start in first and continue to change until it gets to the last gear selected by the driver. This does not seen right. I have driven three other cars with tiptronic shift, including another Stagea (2003 or 2004). To me, this is no different from a plain automatic, and I do not use manual mode very often. The car has been seen by a mechanic, who concluded that there is nothing wrong with the gearbox, and this is how it is meant to behave.
Tailgate struts have lost pressure. Very annoying, and will have to fix soon as it is a bit of a hazard.
The car is very comfortable and a joy to drive. It is powerful, precise and quite manoeuvrable, considering its size. It's quick off the mark, again, despite its size, corners nicely and does well uphill. It tends to over steer, possibly due to being 80% rear wheel drive in normal mode. This changes if synchro mode is engaged. The Stagea becomes a lot more precise in corners. It also has a snow mode, which distributes power symmetrically and starts the vehicle in second gear to prevent slipping. It has been great to drive on long distances and up to skiing fields.
It as an on-board computer with a pop-up screen displaying altitude, outside temperature compass and direction. Another part of the menu shows range, average fuel use, average speed and real-time fuel efficiency. The car only speaks Japanese, so I don't venture into other parts of the menu.
The fuel consumption is a bit too high for my taste. I am not sure how it compares in real life with similar vehicles. I guess there has to be a price to pay for the 191 HP, the size of the wagon and the fact that is permanently AWD. Around town, I get an average of 7.5 to 8 Km per litre of 95 octane. On the open road it would do 11, if driven nicely, and 9.5 to 10 when pushed.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 15th February, 2014