After turning 28 and owning a 2006 WRX wagon, I needed to jump out of the boy-racer stigma and into a car that retained the WRX essence, but in a more refined manner. Enter the Subaru Liberty GT Tuned By STi.
Straight from the outset, you know it's a special car with STi bits everywhere. First of all you see the 18-inch STi Enkei wheels housing the massive gold Brembo brakes. The STi front lip and quad tip mufflers combined with the Bilstein struts and STi pink springs set it off to be a sporty-looking package. I've always loved the look of the Gen IV Liberty; it's a shame the newer models have succumbed to the boxy body shape.
I chose the wagon specifically as I like the practicality of the fold-down seats to throw in anything from bikes to surfboards. The wagon combined with Obsidian Black paint and the six-speed transmission make it a highly desirable model.
Inside the cabin is no different with red stitching galore, sports pedals and STi-branded seats. The red, white and blue lights look fantastic in the evening and the dashboard does a little dance on start-up.
As you turn the key, you hear the distinctive Subaru starter motor and comforting rumble of the boxer engine at idle. The engine in this machine is fantastic, a stonking 194kW power plant allows the big wagon to sprint to 100km/h in six seconds. I adore the feel of the turbo punch in the car as you pass 3000rpm – the lag isn't as violent as my WRX and it's a more refined trip to 100km/h. The notchy yet bullet-proof six-speed transmission pairs with the engine like an Olympic figure skating couple. It is a dream to shift hard through the gears after a strong launch and always puts a smile on my face.
I think that is one of the most important things with cars: why buy something that doesn't make you smile every time you drive it? The Bilstein shocks and STi springs hold you tight in the corners, and the STi strut brace and swaybar provide the confidence to attack the next one. A firm but satisfying ride in the daily commute along with the plush leather seats equates to a fantastic GT car.
In terms of reliability, if the servicing is kept up (average $300–$400 per service) the car will treat you well. I have recently ticked over 100,000km and that has required a major service and clutch change, but is to be expected in all cars of this age.
For an 11-year-old car, the interior has held up well with annual care given to the leather seats. Unlike many Japanese cars, the Subaru Liberty retains a more refined interior with timeless design and quality components. The 14-speaker sound system really pumps out the tunes from factory and is another reason why I chose this model. The monstrous sunroof is fantastic for cruising in the summer time or through the twisties up along the Black Spur in country Victoria.
The age of the car shows in terms of tech with a six-stacker CD player and no Bluetooth. However, the AUX input can be modified to provide Bluetooth integration. After all, you buy this car to drive it, not to talk on the phone.
The newer Liberties have upgraded tech and provide an even plusher ride, but they have lost their soul, their character, and just don't make me smile like this one does. I will hold onto this car for a long time, as it still turns heads wherever I drive and will be a future classic.