Shed of the Week: Subaru Legacy

Ah, winter approacheth. Barren winter, with his wrathful nipping cold, as that beardy bloke from Stratford once said.

Shakespeare never had to choose a car, let alone a Shed. In his time, you pretty much stayed where you were. We moan about our roads now, but by gum Elizabethan ones were a thousand times worse, especially in winter when your bones were ruthlessly ground away by a combination of deep ruts and 1,500-year-old Roman stone paving slabs bursting up through the stinking mud like rotten dinosaur teeth.

For Will, getting from A to B was down to a choice between an iron-tyred carriage, a minging horse, or the peasant's favourite, Shanks's pony. If only he had been able to take his pick from a selection of low-priced used vehicles, magically transported back from the 21st century! English lessons at school would certainly have been a lot more interesting.

If he had had the luxury of motorised transport to get around the filthy mire of Elizabethan England, Shakespeare could have done a lot worse than pick this week's Shed, a Subaru Legacy 2.0 GL.

This one is a late gen-three (American-built) model that comes with the archetypal Scoobydoo horizontally-opposed flat four, or boxer engine for those who don't recognise the term flat four. This 2.0-litre non-turbo iteration is no road-burner at 125hp and 136ft lb. Still, its 1,315kg bulk can be pushed through the 0-60 in ten seconds or so - if you're prepared to work the five-speed box and that sort of thing is important to you - and on to 121mph.

The official combined fuel consumption for the 2.0 Leggo was 26.1mpg, dipping down to an attention-grabbing 19.4 in town, so this is no economy option. What it is, however, is something you'd like to see on your drive when that wrathful nipping cold is setting in outside your hovel and you fancy going to the bear-baiting, or you've got to hightail it to the next county to escape the latest wave of plague. Subaru wanted their wagon to be the best handling load lugger in the Audi A6/BMW 5 Series class, and it's true that the steering is surprisingly willing once you've got through the low-speed lightness.

Shed thinks that the AWD system on the manual car gives it a 50/50 torque split, changing to up to 80/20 front/rear in slippier conditions, but no doubt a marque expert will be on to put things straight. Whatever it is, the AWD is useful for negotiating frozen slurry or swerving around unexpected road obstacles such as a rampaging wild boar or slinking stoat. The Legacy is a strong car too, scoring four stars in Euro NCAP in 2003 long before four or five stars became the norm.

We haven't been treated to any interior shots, but flimsy cup holders aside it's all tough, workmanlike plastic and cloth, and the boot is huge thanks in part to Subaru's 'boomerang' rear suspension. Only a stone-deaf churl would complain about the warm woofle of the boxer engine note through the (in this case) new exhaust back section. It's rough but somehow smooth at the same time. If you know anyone who can do a bang-on impersonation of the sound using only their mouth and a bowl of custard, then you are indeed fortunate.

Although this one doesn't have a tow bar, it does have roof bars. Or at the very least, the ad hasn't excluded them from the sale, so you'd be entitled to stand next to the car and shout loudly if they were withdrawn from it. They're handy to have if you're a canoeist, or a gondola-ist if you were, say, doing research for The Merchant Of Venice. A pair of genuine used Subaru bars (as opposed to the usual generic rubbish that hardly ever fits) will rush you at least £50 from the scrappers.

Unfortunately PH's 16-bit Megablast computer wasn't lit up at the time of writing, so it wasn't possible to virtually remove the bandages that have been carefully draped over the numberplates to conceal the reg number and thereby the MOT history. But Shed likes the no-nonsense tone of the ad, the originality of the car and the fact that it has only had one owner - the current one - so you will be able to have a nice conversation with him and get a full picture of the car's life.

Legacy things to watch out for include a tendency for the rear discs to get scored, noise from the frameless windows, failing steering angle sensors and the general cost of repairs, which if you go to the wrong place can be horrific. On the positive side, Shed is fairly certain that the 2.0 litre motor has non-interference timing belts.

Let's finish off with a bit more Shakespeare, you know, raise the tone a bit. There is some evidence that he was a motoring enthusiast. Liked Saabs, apparently. He was a big fan of the Sonnet, boom boom, slow rimshot etc. Here's a portion of one of them which seems appropriate.

How heavy do I journey on the way,
When what I seek, my weary travel's end,
Doth teach that ease and that repose to say
"Thus far the miles are measured from thy friend".

Nah, no idea. Something to do with absence making the heart grow fonder, maybe? Who knows. Never did like the fella.

Here's the ad


P.H. O'meter

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Comments (64) Join the discussion on the forum

  • PSB1967 21 Sep 2018

    Meh! Deffo not a big 'bank account killing' Jag rival this week. I think I might just go back to bed.

  • Krikkit 21 Sep 2018

    We had a gen 3 legacy outback and it was one of the best built vehicles I've come across from the 90s. They really were aiming for Mercedes build quality.

    The warbly 4 pot makes it a smooth and more interesting ride than your usual I4

    Great shed.

  • only1ian 21 Sep 2018

    A Shed I have literally used as a shed! My backpacker vehicle in NZ 15 years ago was an extremely beaten up, rapid only in its oxidising, 400000km!

    Bought for $900 NZD provided transport reliable and accommodation for 3 months. Didn’t leave enough time to find a buyer in Christchurch at the end of the trip had to leave with keys under the matt next to the cathedral. It probably got squashed in the earthquake.

    It’s was completely reliable and went up all manner of icy and muddy tracks without complaint! It’s not a car you can get affectionate about until you own one. It’s neither glamourous nor dynamically impressive but rust will kill it before you do plus it can definitely sleep two comfortably!

    For these reasons great shed!

  • greenarrow 21 Sep 2018

    I had one of these as a courtesy car when my Impreza was in for work, years ago. Undoubtedly a well built tool that will last forever, but as I recall the auto one was pretty sluggish, rolled a fair bit and obviously was nothing like an Impreza. It uses a huge amount of fuel for a car that wont break 10 secs to 60 MPH. One for farmers or country dwellers who want an all weather indestructible run around Not one for me I'm afraid. Last week's Jag floated my boat a lot more!! Probably not that much thirstier round town either (19MPG from a car with less than 130BHP?!)

  • Toyoda 21 Sep 2018

    So boring I had to go to Page 2 to find it.

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