1996 Subaru Legacy L Wagon 2.2 from North America

Summary:

The Energizer Bunny of cars

Faults:

It has had timing belts replaced at 70,000, and at 120,000.

Catalytic converters (two, fore and aft) were replaced, along with all pipes and muffler at 168,000.

Minor rust at rear wheel wells, right rear passenger door, and driver's door.

Rear hatch handle sticks a bit, some rust on that mechanism.

Minor paint flaking on front bumper.

All issues have been scheduled or expected, given the age of the vehicle.

General Comments:

This has been and incredibly reliable and solid car. I've not had any major problems with it that were not expected due to age and use.

The AWD system is fantastic. No matter how deep the snow has gotten here, I've always been able to navigate with confidence. Wet roads do not affect it, and the overall feeling is one of stability.

Despite the stability, it is also remarkably nimble for a station-wagon. It has a good turning radius for its size. The engine is big enough, so that when unloaded, it has decent acceleration, even when passing at highway speeds.

It's decently comfortable for my 6'2" height, though I've had people complain about the lack of headrests in the back seat. It's a bit minimalist in other areas though; no heated seats, dull stereo, no keyless entry. At least the windows and locks are electric.

The interior cargo space is phenomenal for a car. Easily holds as much as a Jeep Grand Cherokee, though the lower suspension means the rear wheel wells limit the depth of the couch you can haul in it.

The EPA's mileage rating is 22mpg for the highway, but I regularly get over 27, and have even gotten 29 on occasion, and that's without using any hypermiling techniques (though I have removed the crossbars from the roof-rack).

Top Gear once called this an "heirloom car" and asserted that "toffs buy it to pass on to their children." I believe it. And although I've been tempted by newer, flashier cars from time to time, in the end I stay with my trusty-rusty-roo. I suspect I'll be hitting another ten years with this thing. May even get another when this one goes.

My only complaint is that when it does need maintenance, it's expensive. It makes up for the rarity of service with the cost, so that while you will take it in less frequently, you'll end up spending the same as a car that needs it more often.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 11th August, 2010

1996 Subaru Legacy GT Estate 2.0 boxer twin turbo from UK and Ireland

Summary:

Brilliant even before you factor in value for money

Faults:

No major faults!

It needed a new top hose at 99K.

Some minor electrical problems.

General Comments:

I was looking for a 4WD estate with real performance after a saggy and soggy (N-reg) Mondeo estate, and found that there is nothing better than this car short of buying an Audi S4 (which I certainly can't afford!).

It has shockingly madcap performance with the suspension to handle it. Mine is specified at 260 bhp but produced 284 bhp on a rolling road recently!

Excellent equipment levels: climate control, heated mirrors and wipers etc, all in very comfortable and supportive seats. Very good stereo, although in my experience you don't want it on as it distracts from the driving experience!

The looks are now rather dated. Facelifted models (from 2000 I think) are rather better.

Big downside: they have to be imported from Japan as they weren't sold outside Japan and Australia. However, there are lots around now so parts can often be had from others advertising their cars for breaking on the internet. But some parts can be ridiculously expensive to obtain (my car hasn't needed any though! Fingers crossed).

Fuel economy is of course not good, but if you stay off the second (big) turbo then it can be much improved. For example, cruising at 75 mph is hugely less expensive than cruising at 80 mph (where legal...).

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 23rd December, 2009