Subaru Liberty GT Review & Road Test

Rating: 7.0
$11,470 $13,640 Dealer
  • Fuel Economy
  • Engine Power
  • CO2 Emissions
  • ANCAP Rating
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Conservative looks, confident performance.

Model Tested:

  • 2010 Subaru Liberty GT Premium; 2.5-litre, four-cylinder, turbo petrol; six-speed manual; sedan - $52,990*

CarAdvice Rating:

Subaru's fifth-generation Liberty may have lost the sex appeal so widely revered of its predecessor, but when it comes to building on the brand's hallmark performance pedigree, this latest model typifies all that's good about Australia's favourite mid-size all-wheel drive.

It's been 20 years since the Liberty (Legacy in some markets) nameplate made its debut, and whilst its current form maybe the catalyst for many a heated backyard discussion, this car truly personifies that age old adage about judging a book by its cover.

Jumping in to the hot seat of the upper-spec Liberty GT Premium this week we find Subaru's newest medium sedan welcomes the driver to a well-finished decor comprising faux soft-metal accents over black plastic mouldings, complimented by dark leather upholstery and a carbon fibre strip that runs horizontally across the dash and door trims.

Seating is a touch firm, but nonetheless supportive, and upfront offers electric adjustment with two memory settings (heated seats are not offered). Extra leg room has also found its way in to this new model as a result of more room between the front and rear seats.

Switchgear function and placement are both sensible and user-friendly, while the electronic park brake has freed up valuable space in the centre console which now houses a large console box, drink holder compartment and three-mode (Sport, Sport Sharp and Intelligent) "Subaru Intelligent Drive" selector.

Instrumentation layout is simple and effective with white illumination for crisp night vision. The temperature gauge has been replaced by a + / - econo-gauge that lets you know when you're gulping fuel. A gear shift indicator is also featured top-and-centre (with the numerical gear position indicator) to help make the most of your 65L tank of premium fuel.

Joining the standard feature list is satellite navigation, cruise control, power windows and mirrors, keyless entry with start-button, dual-zone climate control plus a premium six-disc McIntosh audio system with (Bluetooth) wireless and RCA audio/DVD interface.

Safety features, in addition to Subaru's trademark symmetrical all-wheel drive system, include front, side, curtain and driver's knee airbags; ESC with Traction Control; and ABS braking with EBA and EBD.

ANCAP testing saw Liberty score 34.8 from a possible 37 points during its evaluation for a five-star overall rating.

The only downside to Liberty's cabin is poor sound insulation allowing the egress of tyre noise from the 18-inch alloy's low-profile rubber. On well sealed road's the Liberty GT Premium rates a comfortable 73dB but this soon increases on coarse chip surfaces.

Under the bonnet the Liberty GT Premium is motivated by the same 2.5-litre horizontally opposed (Boxer), turbocharged four-cylinder engine as found in the previous model, but thanks to a larger intercooler and turbocharger combination, this new model sees healthy gains in power, torque and fuel economy - despite the car putting on 19 kilograms of extra weight!

Developing 195kW of power at 5600rpm (up from 184kW), the Liberty GT Premium is a capable performer whose acceleration is well complimented by the 350Nm of torque (up from 339Nm) that begins its push from just 2400rpm.

There's a slight lag when making a hasty start from rest, but it's of little consequence to the all important 0-100km/h sprint. Liberty GT Premium scored a rather impressive timed run of just 6.6 seconds.

Mated in this instance to a somewhat notchy and tightly-patterned six-speed manual transmission (also available with a five-speed automatic transmission), the Liberty GT Premium boasts a well spread set of cogs - an upshot of which is an improved combined fuel consumption figure of just 9.8L/100km (down from 10.9L/100km).

Real world driving this week over a 50:50 mix of city and highway use saw that figure sit steadily at 11.0L/100km.

Braking too is equally impressive with excellent pedal feel allowing precise modulation when so required, while Liberty GT Premium's suspension offers a fantastic blend of ride comfort and grippy handling that really allows the car to realise its "Grand Touring" potential.

In a cruel twist to the Liberty GT Premium's near-glowing review its price point is the car's only real let down, for despite being a well kitted car for the coin, competitors such as Ford's Mondeo XR5 Turbo ($44,990*) and Skoda's Octavia RS ($37,990*) really do put the pinch on Subaru when it comes to bang for your buck.

A capable all-rounder, the Subaru Liberty GT Premium is available in sedan and wagon from $52,990*and $54,990* respectively.

*Pricing is a guide as recommended to us by the manufacturer.


CarAdvice Overall Rating: How does it Drive: How does it Look: How does it Go:

*Pricing is a guide as recommended to us by the manufacturer.