Only in Victoria and Tasmania is Labour Day celebrated in March. In most other states it falls in October – or May if you happen to be in the Northern Territory. I’m not sure how this came to pass, but it could explain why it is arguably the least anticipated public holiday on the calendar.
While most Aussies have annual traditions allocated for the the big guns such as Anzac Day and Australia Day, poor old Labour Day is easily forgotten. This just doesn’t seem fair. So this year, some friends and I decided it was time to put things right. We wanted to find a worthy tradition to honour each year. As such, it was decided from this year forth, Labour Day would be our annual golf day.
That’s how we found ourselves up early on a Monday morning in March getting ready to head to the RACV golf course in Torquay.
There were five of us in total and, given I normally drive a wagon – a Subaru Outback to be precise – it had been assumed I would be providing transport for the rest of the group (allowing them to spend a bit more time on the 19th hole).
This would not normally have been an issue, however, this particular weekend I had been thrown the keys to the all-new 2015 Subaru Liberty 3.6R.
Sharing many characteristics with its Outback stable mate, unfortunately for fans of older generation Libertys, the new sixth-gen is limited to the four-door sedan you see pictured here.
So herein lay our first challenge of the day: could we fit five sets of clubs in the boot of this mid-sized sedan?
For 2015, the Liberty’s rear end provides 490 litres of boot space – up 14L on the previous model.
An interesting figure perhaps, but personally I find it a bit pointless measuring boot space in terms of litres. Things like petrol tanks are used for storing liquid and it makes sense that they be measured in litres, but boots? Surely boots are intended for storing solid objects, like dead bodies… or golf clubs.
Now, I can’t tell you how many dead bodies you will fit in the boot of a new Subaru Liberty, but I can confirm it will comfortably accept five sets of golf clubs.
It’s a deep boot but it has a narrow opening, which means the clubs needed to be skilfully manoeuvred one set at a time. We treated it like a game of Jenga with the rest of the players standing back and laughing as the final contestants attempted to find the right angle to be able to squeeze in their bags.
It was tight, and we definitely needed every one of those extra 14 litres of boot space, but we did it. We managed to get all five sets of clubs – and one foldable buggy – securely in the boot.
Once we had the clubs safely in the boot, it was time for the next challenge: could we fit the five golfers into the cabin?
When I say ‘golfers’ I use the term loosely. If you could have seen us in action that day, you would not have confused any of us for pro swingers. And while we were five in number, you would not have confused us for a basketball team either – we are all what I would call ‘mid-sized’ men, so it was a fair test for this mid-sized sedan.
The results of the cabin test were pretty similar to the boot test. Five people definitely fit, but it’s tight. There was quite a bit of incidental skin contact in the back seat, which could have made lesser men nervous, but not this lot.
The trip to Torquay also gave me time to show the lads some of the Liberty’s features such as the sunroof, electric and heated front seats and dual-zone climate control.
The other thing that captured the attention of my passengers was the Subaru’s advanced safety tech, particularly the EyeSight collision avoidance system.
Using cameras to monitor the road and traffic up ahead, EyeSight makes adaptive cruise control possible, as well as automatic emergency breaking.
A lane departure warning is also part of the package, beeping each time drivers start drifting into the next lane. I’m still not quite sure how it works so accurately, but if we could somehow apply the same technology to the golf course to help steer drives safely down the fairway, we’d be millionaires.
EyeSight aside, the 3.6R model, priced at $41,900 plus on-road costs, feels quite technically advanced for the price point, thanks too to its intuitive touchscreen and satellite navigation system.
The seats are comfortable with plenty of head and legroom and there’s thick padding on the armrests. It’s a comfortable car to drive and Subaru has done a great job of improving noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) levels in the latest model.
Some would associate the Liberty badge with an older demographic, making it an appropriate choice for a trip to the golf course. However, we found it to be quite a sporty looking vehicle at least.
A low-ish ride height, front and rear spoilers and 18-inch alloy wheels all combine to give the 3.6R a noticeably more aggressive appearance. I’m not suggesting the flagship Liberty encroaches into WRX territory, but it didn’t feel like an old persons car to us. We were all quite impressed.
The drive was equally impressive, with the familiar Subaru all-wheel-drive system helping the 1,605kg 3.6R grip to the road and handle corners with ease.
An improved continuously variable transmission (CVT) sees claimed fuel economy drop from the previous model’s 10.3 litres per 100km to 9.9L/100km. Loaded up with five golfers and all their gear though, we averaged just over 10.5L/100km.
The new Subaru Liberty is clearly not intended to be a people mover, and if you are regularly ferrying four mates back and forth to the golf course, you may want to consider something a little larger. That said, the 3.6R did the job asked of it, did it well and, for us, did it in style.
The same, however, cannot be said for our performance on the golf course… But despite some embarrassing scores and a few deflated egos, we all vowed to return again in 12 months time and to do it all again. Perhaps next year we can ‘golf test’ something else.
Click on the Photos tab for more 2015 Subaru Liberty 3.6R images by Tom Fraser and Scott Davison.