Review: Subaru Legacy/Outback Diesel (2008 – 2014)
Big, solid, honest, comfortable, fine handling and very economical four wheel drive chain-cam diesel estate car, sensibly priced. Unique.
Just a little bit old fashioned. Early cars had DPF problems.
Recently Added To This Review
Report of problems with DPF of 2010 Subaru Outback estate AWD. Four warning lights have appeared, DPF light (Flashing) VDC,electronic parking brake and check Engine light. Local mechanic has cleaned... Read more
Report of ongoing problems with 2011/60 reg Subaru Outback SE Boxer D, bought used with 36k miles from Subaru dealer in March 2016 for £11,450. The first oil problem was identified on 19th July,... Read more
Report of engine of 2008 Subaru Outback diesel seizing. Apparently had been over-filled with oil. Read more
Subaru Legacy/Outback Diesel (2008 – 2014): At A Glance
Subaru enthusiasts, pony club members, and anyone living up a muddy lane or above the snow line had been clamouring for this for years. Subaru now expects to sell 85% of Legacy Sport Tourers and 95% of Outbacks with its new ‘Boxer' diesel engine.
And so it came to pass, nine years after the Subaru engineers were given the green light to produce the world's first boxer diesel-powered engine, here it is.
Obviously we're not going to be dishing any awards for cutting-edge industry initiatives here, but that's another issue. The key question is whether it's all been worth the epic gestation?
The short answer is yes. Any engine which can pull the architecture of a not-so-inconsequential-sized estate car to a top speed of 126 mph while powering all four of its wheels and still boast nearly 50mpg is surely be worthy of a positive reception.
And if those facts weren't impressive enough, then take the starting prices: a smidgen under £20k will buy the surprisingly well-equipped Legacy TD, or the same entry-level Outback for £21,495.
What does a Subaru Legacy/Outback Diesel (2008 – 2014) cost?Get a finance quote with CarMoney
Subaru Legacy/Outback Diesel (2008 – 2014): What's It Like Inside?
And it's a pleasant enough car. Stacks of luggage space (more than the old V70, anyway). Nice cream leather seats and very posh carpeting for the load compartment. (Will definitely require loadliner and seatcovers for anyone living in the country.)
I thought I'd test it out on my housekeeper, who was used to my long-term CR-V, on a shopping trip to Tesco. It made a good impression. She much preferred it. Liked the colours inside and the twinkling red LEDs on the instrument display. So for someone who doesn't know cars the Legacy made it on the status stakes as a superior machine to an SUV.
Child seats that fit a Subaru Legacy/Outback Diesel (2008 – 2014)Our unique Car Seat Chooser shows you which child car seats will fit this car and which seat positions that they will fit, so that you don't have to check every car seat manufacturer's website for compatibility.
What's the Subaru Legacy/Outback Diesel (2008 – 2014) like to drive?
On first impression then, Subaru seem to have laid the foundations for a diesel model line-up which they so desperately need.
But there's a caveat to all this. Subaru is quite rightly proud of its achievements and is consequently doing much chest-beating about how this turbocharged unit produces 258lbs of torque and 147bhp from the same horizontally-opposed layout as the petrol original. Oh and this new alternative takes up even less space in the engine bay. Yet, none of this will mean a toss to real people if the results still sound and drive like a Massey Ferguson tractor. Surely they'd have remembered that little consideration?
Well... starting from cold, the clatter coming from underneath the bonnet immediately tells your neighbours that this car is a fan of the black-handled pump. I'm trying not to be too harsh on this first offering from Subaru, but you have to understand over the past decade or so, diesel technology has progressed at an alarming rate, turning the image of diesels as oafish oil-burners into quiet, refined and acceptable sources of power. This engine, though, feels as if it has been stuck in a time warp somewhere between now and when we used to write the date starting with a 1 and a 9.
The great shame is, if it were launched as little as five years ago, I have no doubt all the motoring fraternity would be feting this unit as the new diesel Messiah. Given what is currently on the market - especially from those clever Germans - this diesel needed to be so good that it would blow away everything that stood in its path. Instead, all it can do is muster a tentative nudge above the average mark.
With both cars sharing the same engine, suspension and five-speed gearbox, there is hardly any difference in the overall performance. On the straight, the Legacy's is a tad quicker - by 0.3 of a second to 60mph, in fact. And at 126mph, it has a higher top speed, by 2mph.
Only when the two are driven back-to-back do the Legacy's slightly sportier characteristics become more evident. Neither could be considered the most rip-roaring drive ever, yet the Legacy shows more responsiveness and has an overall sense of dynamism. Take both through the same set of twists and turns and the Legacy hunkers down and relishes the job in hand, while the Outback feels a bit like trying to post a dead trout through a letter box.
If you're choosing a new car and are prepared to think a little outside the box, even slightly left-of-centre, either of these cars isn't as risky a prospect as you might first suspect. Like their petrol siblings, they feel as though they've been built to withstand a megaton explosion. And not only that, they have been finished to a standard of refinement far exceeding expectations. A protective blanket swathes each car in an array of passive and safety equipment, too. And although the full-time AWD system is there for added traction, trespassing across a Gloucestershire farmer's land is not going to cause it too many problems. (Note: before running the risk of being blasted by a 12-bore shotgun, do take into account ground clearance and lack of low-range gearing).
So is this the technical, gob-smacking breakthrough Subaru would have you believe? Not really, but much the same as the rest of its range, it's a fairly credible choice.
If you seek an escape route from the one-way system of German fashion, Subaru finally has a diversion that's not marked ‘petrol'.
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