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New Subaru Liberty grows, but won’t get diesel

Facelift: Subaru's Legacy concept will get a tweak before it emerges in Australia as the Liberty.

Subaru's Geneva show Legacy to get nose job for Liberty

26 Feb 2009

THE futuristic front end of Subaru’s Legacy concept car on display in Geneva next week will be gone by the time its namesake, the Liberty, hits the Australian market later this year.

Company insiders have indicated that Subaru will play safe with its all-new core model and use a more conventional front end compared with the 1950s robot look on the concept car.

Subaru owners and potential buyers will be waiting with bated breath to see how the new car looks after the company’s recent patchy styling record.

Models like the original Tribeca and past and present Imprezas have divided opinion and taken some of the gloss off the Subaru image in Australia, where the company had previously built up a reputation for being market-savvy.

But the front might not be the only challenge with the forthcoming Liberty.

The profile of the sedan Legacy concept shows a bulbous roofline contrasting sharply with a strong and straight waistline.

It appears to have a more pronounced curve than the roof of the current model, but it does share the virtue of extending back well past the rear seat, ensuring good headroom in the second row.

2 center image The Liberty will pick up some of those in-vogue sharp-edged wheel bulges. The Liberty will have these bulges at both ends to emphasise, in Subaru’s eyes, “the reliability and dynamism” of the company’s symmetrical all-wheel drive.

On the Legacy concept, there is enough depth in the wheel arches to make for a tight fit over the tyres but, of course, the show car had special wheels and they might not be a good guide to how the production version will look.

The new car will have a 2751mm wheelbase, 81mm longer than the previous model, and all the extra length appears to have gone into the rear seat thanks to the rear axle being set well back.

The longer wheelbase has also made possible the use of larger rear doors, which should make it easier to get in and out of the new model.

In fact, the new Liberty will be bigger in all crucial dimensions, which augurs well for passenger space.

Apart from the wheelbase, the new model will be 131mm longer overall, 90mm wider and 75mm higher thanks to that domed roof.

This should translate to a feeling of spaciousness inside for those trading up from the previous model, and may serve to increase its appeal in its most important market, the US, where people are downsizing from larger vehicles. The Liberty range is made in Indiana as well as Japan.

Subaru gave no details of the concept car’s mass, but the car’s larger exterior dimensions suggest that there will be an increase on the current sedan’s weight range of between 1365kg to 1520kg.

This may explain why the decision has been made to replace the 3.0-litre flat six from the current top-spec Liberty with the 3.6-litre version used in the Tribeca.

If the 3.6-litre unit is in the same level of tune, this swap will yield only a modest lift in power output from180kW to 190kW. However, there will be a useful torque boost from 297Nm to 350Nm, which should ensure even a fully loaded Liberty wagon will not be left gasping on hills.

The Liberty is expected to retain the two current four-cylinder boxer units – the normally aspirated version producing 127kW/226Nm and the turbo-charged version found in the GT model, producing 184kW/339Nm.

But there will be no turbo-diesel flat four, which has already been released in Europe in both the Liberty and the Outback.

The diesel will be coming to Australia in the Outback, a month or so after the Liberty launch. It is also expected to make its way into the Impreza and Forester.

Read more:

First look: Subaru previews its next new Liberty

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