If 'sleeper' were added to the illustrated Oxford English Dictionary, PH would like to recommend a picture of the Subaru Legacy B4 to show what it means in the automotive world. To the casual onlooker, even the twin-turbocharged B4 has an unassuming four-door exterior design. But for those in the know, the bonnet scoop alone is enough to confirm this Legacy as the one powered by Subaru's 2.0-litre turbocharged boxer four; miss that and a start-up should confirm it.
Many components of the B4's boosted unit were, of course, shared with the Impreza WRX. But the Legacy's engine had a higher compression ratio for better low-down torque, and its turbos were set to provide effortless performance appropriate to a discreet family machine. They worked successively, with one boosting through the mid-range and the second, larger blower taking over to extend the reach of a factory listed maximum of 276hp.
That was for the sportiest variant, the limited-run B4 STI S401, and meant the car conformed to the JDM gentleman's agreement that was still adhered to (so they said) in the early noughties. The ranking earned the model a set of BBS alloy wheels and new power-flaunting bumpers. The sleeper title might have been somewhat lost, but with factory figures of 253lb ft of torque and a 0-62mph time of 5.2 seconds, it was undoubtedly appropriate.
Like many boxer-engined Subarus, Legacys of this sort have frequently been treated to aftermarket parts, with 300hp within easy reach. The boxer is considered to be extremely tough, with only the intercooler thought to be close to its limit in standard specification. Upgrade that and owners reckon only a freer breathing exhaust and remap are needed to surpass 300hp mark - with considerably more possible if the owner is prepared to fork out for it.
The seller of today's Spotted was ready to do just that with their B4, which was imported by them only a year ago and has one previous owner on the logbook. In fact, add £2k to the asking price and they'll throw the bits in required to take the car to 350hp; the list includes new hybrid upgraded turbos, a full manifold kit and a set of body braces, which are all ready to go.
But even if a buyer were to not request the extras, the car as it stands looks to be in excellent condition. It's had a long list of upgrades, and the engine was recently rebuilt following a common conrod issue that normally arises at 100,000 miles (this car was almost bang on that). The TLC has continued inside; those factory BBS wheels were recently repainted and given new boots, while the leather interior looks a tenth of its age. If you need more evidence that it's lived a cherished life, the fact it was running fine on its original clutch until the engine work backs the claim.
The seller doesn't even sound like they want to let go of the car; apparently the sale is entirely related to the fact they've got four cars now (perish the thought). Whether you think of this as a work in progress or a ready to roll 300hp+ four-door, it's got all the makings of a PH-worthy buy.
SPECIFICATION - SUBARU LEGACY B4 S401 STI
Engine: 1,994cc 4-cyl boxer twin turbo
Transmission: 6-speed manual, four-wheel drive
Power (hp): 276@6,400rpm (now uprated beyond 300hp)
Torque (lb ft): 253@4,400-5,600rpm
First registered: 2002
Recorded mileage: 100,000
Price new: (JDM only)
Yours for: £9,995