New name to revive a legacy

Posted in Cars, Opinion, News

It’s been awhile since we got excited about the launch of a new Subaru wagon, but when we received an offer to head to Queenstown and test out the aforementioned, you bet your arse we jumped on the first flight available and prepared to put it through its paces on one of the country's best roadways and tracks.

Although the name sounds like something you would find in a menu at a French restaurant, the all-new Subaru Levorg — comprising the words LEgacy reVolutiOn touRinG — is the spiritual successor to the much-loved, and missed, Legacy GT wagon, after its discontinuation in 2014. 

Dimensionally similar to the second- and third-generation Legacys, possibly with the intention of steering clear of the fifth-gen that polarized Legacy owners with its style changes, the front half of the body is derived from the WRX, while the rear is purpose-designed with Legacy heritage in mind. With this, the Levorg marks the return of all-wheel drive, small-capacity turbocharged wagons — packing a two-litre turbocharged FA20 boxer powerhouse, generating just shy of 200kW at the crank.

Although the Levorg will sadly not be offered with a proper manual-gearbox option, as Subaru opted to exclusively use the eight-speed Subaru Lineartronic Transmission (SLT) instead, the light at the end of the tunnel is the inclusion of an interchangeable drive to manual mode and two sports modes that allow you to shift through a selection of six to eight gears (depending on mode selection) via the steering-wheel–mounted paddle shifters. 

This feature proved to be more than useful as we thrashed our Crystal White Pearl variant through the snowless Crown Ranges, and then proceeded to push the car’s technical abilities the following day at Highlands Motorsport Park, hoping to find some form of limiting factor(s).

And, to be honest, there weren’t any that jumped out at us. While there were a few small niggly things that managed to irk us along the way, including the oddly uncooperative electronic handbrake — although this may have come down to our own impatience, it’s hard to determine — the package Subaru have produced makes for a pleasurable, comfortable, and unsurprisingly sporty driving experience.

The incorporation of long-running partner Bilstein’s suspension was almost a given, and for good reason, as the system not only created smooth driving along the open roads, it provided exceptional cornering ability when pushed through a series of hairpins, chicanes, and sweepers. Supporting our efforts to throw the car around tight corners and stop on a dime when required were the large calipers and high-response brake system, especially on the damp, fogged-out track surfaces we encountered early in the morning. The reality of it is, the car performed exceptionally well, and that’s no surprise to us — Subaru have been doing this for a long time, and have many a victory to their name to prove it.

However, have no illusions — a purpose-built track machine this is not, featuring far too many modern bells, whistles, and the rest to be so. But what you do get with the Levorg is an incredibly responsive, well-handling, and generously powered wagon that can be used to drop the kids off at school, pack the high-capacity boot space full of parts, or attempt a Possum Bourne–style rally stage — under  the right circumstances, of course — with ease. It has all the makings of a brilliant weekend warrior car, while packed to the brim with technology, including EyeSight driver assistance to ensure a pleasant road-driving experience day in and day out.

The Levorg is the first all-new model since Subaru launched the BRZ in 2012, and Wallis Dumper, managing director of Subaru of New Zealand, said that the Levorg’s release has been a much-anticipated addition to the stable after being launched internationally last year.

While equivalent wagons from other manufacturers may set you back a pretty penny, the Levorg is set to launch mid-July at the very reasonable RRP of $56,990-plus on-road costs.

2017 Subaru Levorg 2.0GT-S

  • Engine: Boxer FA20, 1998cc, turbocharged four-cylinder
  • Drivetrain: All-wheel drive, eight-speed Subaru Lineartronic Transmission (SLT) 
  • Wheels/tyres: 18x7.5-inch Subaru Alloy wheels, 225/45R18 Dunlop tyres
  • Colour: Crystal White Pearl, Ice Silver Metallic, Dark Grey Metallic, Crystal Black Silica, Pure Red, Steel Blue Grey Metallic, Lapis Blue Metallic
  • Power: 197kW at the crank, 0–100kph in 6.6 seconds
  • Key features: Third-generation EyeSight driver assist system, pre-collision braking assist, pre-collision steering assist, and enhanced pedestrian avoidance; adaptive cruise control, reversing camera, seven airbags, push-button start, ABS anti-lock brakes, multiple flexible cabin configuration, colour multi-function displays, LED headlights and tail lights