We now have an answer for the handful of readers who have asked us, repeatedly, when the new-generation 2021 Subaru Liberty would go on sale in Australia: it won't.
In a release issued today, the Japanese company's local distributor confirmed the Liberty badge (known as Legacy overseas) will exit the Australian market when the current model ends its production run for our region.
Before this announcement, the company had, for more than a year, been unable to give CarAdvice any indication of local timing for the new model – first revealed in February 2019.
Above: The new 2020/2021 Subaru Liberty won't come to Australia
Subaru Australia Managing Director, Christian Dinsdale says buyers keen on the Liberty should remember the current Impreza is close in size to the third-generation Liberty, back before the car was made bigger to satisfy market demands.
"Equally, WRX is a performance sedan option that is probably the closest relative to the various turbocharged Liberty variants, such as the RS, GT and tuned by STI, which captured the hearts of so many enthusiastic drivers in their heyday," he said.
Speaking with CarAdvice, Subaru Australia communications boss David Rowley said the Liberty's phaseout will begin now, but the company has one more production run booked, meaning buyers might expect to see the model live on until very early in 2021.
Today's news follows the decision in 2014 to drop the Liberty's wagon body from the Australian line-up, leaving the jacked-up Outback to carry that segment.
The Liberty's sad end follows that of its Ford-badged rival the Mondeo, which had its retirement announced in December last year ahead of a sales end in mid-2020.
Above: the Outback, shown here in its new MY21 form, will live on
The Liberty's platform won't leave us entirely, however, with the new generation of the related Outback "100 per cent safe" and expected to make its Australian debut by around March 2021.
Likewise, the new-generation Levorg wagon is confirmed for Australia, but it is expected to arrive with a more consolidated range. If the decisions of other brands are anything to go by, this could mean a focus on performance-oriented variants.
The current sixth-generation Liberty debuted in Australia in 2015, with reduced pricing and higher grades of standard equipment to help it compete in a shrinking market segment.
Above: the new Levorg is confirmed for Australia
Sales for the current sixth-generation Liberty have followed those of all medium and large passenger cars, which have largely given way to SUVs as the preferred option for Australian buyers.
In 2016, Subaru registered 3495 Liberty sedans (Toyota tallied 26,485 Camry sedans), while 2020 has so far seen just 499 Liberty sales (against 7799 Camry sales).
The past two years have seen Subaru record 2441 Liberty sales, compared to 13,844 for the Outback.
Above: the current Outback
Over its lifetime, though, the Liberty has found more than a few Australian homes. According to Subaru, a total of 153,700 Liberty sedans and wagons have been sold since it was first introduced in 1989.
Subaru Australia Managing Director, Christian Dinsdale, said: "Liberty has been a pivotal part of Subaru's success.
"While customer preferences have moved on to other vehicles in our range, Liberty has played a hugely influential role in the brand's growth and reputation for engineering, safety, durability and retained value.
"It was our first model with global appeal and moved the brand away from its utilitarian roots to becoming a respected automotive company.
"Not only has Liberty established a reputation as a great car, it also pioneered our early rally motorsport success story.
"The first turbocharged Libertys paved the way for the fantastic successes that followed with both Subaru Rally Team Australia and the Subaru World Rally Team."
Note: this timeline is provided by Subaru Australia
First generation Liberty launches in Australia.
10,000th Liberty sold in Australia and RS Turbo version launched. Winner: Wheels' annual quality award and NRMA Best Medium Car award - the first of many motoring organization titles.
All Libertys get dual front airbags.
Liberty wins Wheels Car of the Year.
Liberty wagon wins Wheels Car of the Year.
Liberty B4 reintroduced turbocharged technology to the range.
New-generation Liberty and Outback awarded the best ever five-star crashworthiness ratings in independent testing performed by the Australian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP). Introduction of six cylinder 3.0 litre options, including the Liberty spec.B. An outstanding locally developed special edition, the Liberty GT tuned by STI, won accolades.
Liberty 3.0R named Australia's Best Luxury Car under $57,000, by Australia's combined motoring organizations.
Premium versions of Model Year 2007 Liberty and Outback feature the revolutionary SI-Drive system. Subaru Intelligent Drive offers the option of three different drive experiences in one.
Liberty passed the 120,000 sales mark in Australia. Fifth generation Liberty launched and Liberty 3.6R Premium named Best Prestige Car in the combined motoring organisations Australia's Best Cars awards.
Subaru introduces the sophisticated EyeSight driver assist system on Liberty and Outback 3.6 Premium variants.