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2008 Subaru Legacy Sports Tourer 2.0D RE

Oct 2011 - Final Report (67,500 miles)

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2008 Subaru Legacy Sports Tourer 2.0D RE 2008 Subaru Legacy Sports Tourer 2.0D RE 2008 Subaru Legacy Sports Tourer 2.0D RE

It’s gone and I have to say I feel a tad guilty because I am not going to miss it. I really wanted a Subaru, I was in love with the idea of living out those rally fantasies of gravel stages tackled with a "dab of oppo". Thing was I also wanted good economy and a sensible family car. I thought the Legacy Estate ticked all the boxes and with its new diesel boxer engine it looked like I was going to have my cake and eat it.

Truth be told I had my doubts as I drove it off the forecourt but I put those thoughts aside as I revelled in the glow of new car ownership and bathed in the sunshine streaming through the fabulous sunroof (I am going to miss that more than anything). Yes the grip was stunning and a set of winter tyres saw it virtually unstoppable [except under braking when the opposite applied - Ed] in the worst of the 2010/11 winter even spoiling a local television news broadcast as I drove up a steep, snow covered incline just as the reporter was saying to camera it was impassable to all but tractors.

I have to hold my hand up and say I am hard on cars and like to really drive them but the trouble was I didn’t really bond with the Scoobie and looking back at my last report the niggles had started to build - the crap range of the key fob, the poor stereo and the low grade plastics used in the cabin. The odd-spaced gearing which always felt too short in the first 3 and two long in 4th & 5th grew to really irk me.

I was led to believe Subarus were bullet proof and always came in the top 10 in all the reliability surveys but for me it was proving not to be the case. The wheels turned out to be made of plasticine - two replaced! New they are £360 but the 2nd totally bent one was replaced with a second-hand one sourced by Goldens. The other 3 were all slightly less than perfectly round when it was sold - yep the roads in the UK are shocking but I’ve not replaced one wheel on the Seven or the Swift.

The engine also had an odd habit of shuddering at idle like someone had walked over its grave. This was apparently two things; the air conditioning compressor cutting in and the ECU deciding to run through a "learning curve", which should have stopped after the first few thousand miles but mine never did.

The car was regularly back to Goldens for another ECU replacement or reboot as it was changing its boost levels on a regular basis. Subaru UK were next to useless with guidance for Goldens and the service team worked it out themselves as best as they could.

After just 30k miles it developed a terrible rattle which my wife thought so bad she pulled over, switched it off and called me thinking she’d blown it up. It turned out to be a broken bracket somewhere under the plastic shroud which car makers now use to hide the oily bits. After that the engine remained noisy and towards the end of my ownership it was utterly terrible on a cold start sounding like an old school diesel.

Fuel consumption reflected my driving style, over 68k miles it averaged 36.7mpg but in truth cross country it struggled to make it past 33mpg and some tanks went by in 28. Goldens reckoned that I had the quickest car they had driven but also the most thirsty with, they said, most customers getting 50ish - I would suggest that was Miss Daisy’s driver but 40+ mpg would be closer to the mark.

It also had an appetite for tyres, the first set, Bridgestone Potenzas, went at less than 12k miles - there was almost too much front grip promoting understeer in the dry - they were replaced with Toyo Proxes which again were at the sports end of the market, they lasted 15k miles but the edges gave out similar to the Potenzas. My mate Dave, who runs the excellent Kimberworth Service Station in Rotherham, suggested I try some less sporty Avon ZV5s and they were spot on, not as grippy perhaps but that suited the Legacy, they also lasted much longer getting over 20k miles out of a set.

The legendary Subaru reliability was getting very frayed at the edges as it ate another wheel bearing and it started to rust badly around the top edge of the windscreen from underneath the paint - which of course turned out not to be covered under the seven year anti-corrosion warranty!

But the big one came 7k miles past warranty after an encounter with a 90mm deep pothole (which saw another bent wheel) - the gearbox became noisy and it was reluctant to go backwards. Returning from a trip to London, on the slip road as I left the motorway I couldn’t get 2nd gear at all and the diagnosis was expensive. Goldens wanted £700 just to take a look but did offer me a deal to P/X it against a Forester or another Legacy. In preference, Dave at Kimberworth Service Station offered to get his transmission specialists to take a peak and they stripped it - the news got worse, the viscous drive was gone and that had taken out 3rd gear which then jammed 2nd. They told me that I would need a new clutch very soon as well. To make matters worse they had never seen this type of gearbox despite working on other Legacys and yet again Subaru UK proved to be less than helpful with parts and info. Again Goldens stepped in and tried to sort the parts. I declined the clutch and a week later the gearbox was rebuilt with bits from other Scoobie ’boxes and it was back with me. I knew it had to go - not because of the ’box, that was covered with a warranty, but because I’d enjoyed the 53 plate 1.6 Ford Focus courtesy car more than I did the Scoobie.

I can’t blame the car it was just that I never bonded with it and never loved it like I did the last A6 or my old Mondeo. I can’t deny the car’s ability when the weather was poor as it covered ground like only a car with permanent 4wd can. One trip to see friends in Norfolk was particularly memorable, it was a filthy night - lashing rain, surface water streaming across the roads - but we made quick progress and it always felt sure-footed and safe.

I am not saying it was a bad car, in fact I would suggest that the Legacy is a good family car and driven as such makes it the perfect choice if you live in a rural area prone to harsh winters. But I think my mate Dave summed it up nicely - "you wanted a Scoobie, you just bought the wrong one".


Jul 08 - First Report (500 miles)...More

Feb 09 - Second Report (12,000 miles)...More

Sep 06 - Third Report (30,000 miles)...More

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