Friday, May 20, 2011

Autos: 2011 Subaru Legacy 2.5GT Limited

VEHICLE TYPE: front-engine, 4-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door sedan

PRICE AS TESTED: $35,274 (base price: $32,120)

ENGINE TYPE: turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 16-valve flat-4, aluminum block and heads, port fuel injection

Displacement: 150 cu in, 2457 cc
Power (SAE net): 265 bhp @ 5600 rpm
Torque (SAE net): 258 lb-ft @ 2000 rpm

TRANSMISSION: 6-speed manual

Wheelbase: 108.3 in Length: 186.4 in
Width: 71.7 in Height: 59.3 in
Curb weight: 3500 lb

Zero to 60 mph: 5.4 sec
Zero to 100 mph: 14.1 sec
Zero to 130 mph: 27.2 sec
Street start, 5–60 mph: 6.5 sec
Standing ¼-mile: 14.1 sec @ 100 mph
Top speed (governor limited): 150 mph
Braking, 70–0 mph: 162 ft
EPA city/highway driving: 18/25 mpg
C/D observed: 21 mpg

February 2011 

Testing Subaru’s Legacy 2.5GT Limited has proven frustrating. And expensive. In its initial acceleration runs, our first GT sheared a half-shaft. Once repaired, the car made a second appearance, and a second half-shaft was bifurcated.

As another GT arrived, so, too, did the season’s first blizzard, an Arctic apocalypse that would have cowed  Admiral Peary and easily overwhelmed the Legacy’s 18-inch summer-spec Bridgestones. What luck, huh?
The 2.5GT Limited, starting at $32,120, represents the sportiest of Legacy sedans. Its turbocharged 2.5-liter four produces 265 horsepower—95 horses beyond what the base 2.5i can muster, and nine more than the 3.6R’s 3.6-liter flat-six.

With half-shafts finally spinning instead of flailing, the 2.5GT tackled 60 mph in an aggressive 5.4 seconds, and the quarter-mile was dispatched in 14.1 seconds at 100 mph. By contrast, the base Legacy, fitted with a CVT, required 8.7 seconds to attain 60 mph. And the flat-six, with standard five-speed automatic, performed the task in 6.4.

original The 2.5GT Limited comes with a six-speed manual only, and ours was gussied up with a short-throw kit, part of an unnecessary $1154 option pack that includes a boost gauge that looks like a geothermal event bulging up through the dash. Clutch feel is dandy, but the shifter’s gates are resistant and overall effort is high. At step-off, moreover, clutch slipping is sometimes necessary to coax  the all-wheel drive’s many cogs, pinwheels, and whirligigs into motion.

The GT’s suspension is buttoned down, with body motions conscientiously controlled, and the ride remains settled and ­supple. The steering is oddly heavy and somewhat leaden at low speeds but sharpens acceptably as digits accrue. Funny that Subaru  has spent tens of millions to acquire a legitimate rally heritage, yet this car is ­fitted with no hand brake.

Just north of 2500 rpm, the engine climbs on boost, summoning a butt-wallop that many of us last experienced in grade school. It’s a sudden kick in the pants that reliably illuminates traction-control warnings if the road is damp.
Unfortunately, peaky powerplants also have the habit of snapping heads. The 2.5GT is fun, but it’s a car that proves tricky to drive smoothly. Which had us yearning for the refinement and more-than-adequate perform­ance of the 3.6R, which fetches $6400 less than the 2.5GT Limited and thus earns our nomination as the Legacy for discriminating adults.


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