IT’S been the company’s best car, its flagship prestige offering and generally a good all round mid-sized family car – but somewhere along the way, it got expensive, and the quality lagged a little and it didn’t have that same wow factor. In essence it lost its way.
But now it’s back, and back with a vengeance, ready to dominate the mid-sized sedan market once more – with a significant price drop and an all new look and feel, oh, and the 3.6R – the top of the line performance model – well it’s a downright beast – an absolutely awesome drive.
It’s not alone though, with plenty of stiff competition, including the Hyundai Sonata Premium (the sleeper car in this category that will surprise many), the top of the line Mazda6 and an all new Camry all baying for its blood – but the 2015 version of the Liberty has bucket loads going for it, and more than enough to put it back at the top of buyers lists.
The ride is smooth, if not a little stiff, but the car reacts extremely well on the road, with minimal body roll, even when given a nudge, and thanks to its upgraded all wheel drive the road holding even at high speed, is exceptional. Under the bonnet you’ll find a sweet 191kW of power and 350 Nm of torque sitting aboard 18 inch low profile tyres, with electronic braking controls and a responsive traction control system fitted as standard.
Inside, it’s comfy and roomy, with a luxury look and feel, thanks to the black leather and absolute overload of features, including an easy to use touch screen media centre (although it did lag on response every now and then), Bluetooth is there too, along with a 12 speaker Harman Kardon sound system that pumps out crisp high quality audio, with plenty of bass. Our test car was fully optioned and fitted with the panoramic sun roof as well, adding to the luxury driving experience.
Safety is where the new Liberty steps up to the plate though, and smacks one out of the park when compared to its competition. The 3.6R features the road-tracking and now award winning EyeSight sensor system, which provides radar guided cruise control (keeping you a safe distance from the car in front), lane departure and traffic tracking (a neat system that tells you when the car in front of you stops, and when it moves on again). While EyeSight is an awesome safety feature, lane departure on the M1 (or any other motorway or freeway – at normal freeway speeds) is going to get annoying, really quickly.
For the hoons amongst us, who like to push the envelope, and manipulate the motoring experience through a manual gearbox, you will be disappointed to learn there isn’t one, the entire Liberty range only comes with the latest CVT auto, but it must be said, we found it good fun to drive with, and the paddle gear shifts for sports driving were more than adequate.
She’s a thirsty beast too, drinking down a good gulp of fuel if you like to drive a little hard, and even in normal driving conditions was no fuel economy star (we’re talking 9.9L/100km here – it’s not that pretty), but it’s a small price to pay for a car that provides a great driving experience.
It’s noisier than you think it should be too, not over the top diesel tractor kind of noisy, but it’s there. Surprising for a vehicle that’s being pitched squarely into the affordable luxury category at the top end of the mid sized sedan market. Again though, a small price to pay.
The 2015 Subaru Liberty 3.6R hits the tarmac at $41,990 plus on-roads, the beneficiary of the free trade agreement with Japan that has allowed for significant price drops across the entire model range.
Our test vehicle was provided by Subaru Australia. To find out more about the 2015 Subaru Liberty 3.6R, contact your local Subaru dealer.
Road Test: 2015 Subaru Liberty 3.6R
Pros – great ride; feature packed; the price.
Cons – fuel economy; no manual transmission; road noise.