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Car reviews - Subaru - Liberty - MY2007 sedan/wagon range

Launch Story

Subaru logo6 Sep 2006

By CHRIS HARRIS

AT THE launch of Subaru Australia’s 2007 model year Liberty last week, the Japanese marque’s new mantra was "SID".

An acronym for Subaru Intelligent Drive, SID is a sophisticated piece of engine software mapping which allows the driver to select between three different drive options (intelligent, sport or sport sharp).

According to Subaru, it reduces overall fuel consumption between 10 per cent and 14 per cent (depending on the model) when driven in "intelligent" mode.

SID comes standard on all turbocharged and 3.0-litre Liberty models and, along with the return of the GT nameplate after a 10-month absence, is the headline act for the revised medium-sized sedan and wagon range.

Other revisions include a modest exterior facelift, additional equipment and price cuts of up to 3.8 per cent, depending on the model.

There has been some minor retuning, however maximum power and torque outputs remain the same for the volume-selling 121kW/187Nm 2.0R and 121kW/226Nm 2.5i four-cylinder models, as well as 180kW/297Nm for 3.0-litre six-cylinder models.

The GT now has a 2.5-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine in place of the previous 2.0-litre engine. It develops 184Nm at 6000rpm and 339Nm at 3600rpm and is paired with a five-speed Sportshift automatic. The previous version offered 190kW as a five-speed manual and 180kW in five-speed auto guise.

Joining the GT is a sportier GT Spec.B variant, which offers Bilstein sports suspension, 18-inch alloys, strengthened front and rear differentials with a Torsen limited slip differential and the option of the STi-derived six-speed manual transmission.

While prices for the entry 2.0R four and 3.0R six remain unchanged for both sedan and wagon, the 2.5i and 2.5i Premium drop by $1000 for the five-speed manual and $1500 for the automatic. The 3.0R Spec.B rises by $500 for the manual and $1500 for the automatic. The GT has the same pricing as the previous model.

Visually, all Libertys gain new headlights, revised bumper, grille and foglight and tail-light designs. A new range of alloy wheels has also been introduced.

Inside, the dashboard, centre console and steering wheel (the latter now reach - as well as height-adjustable) gain more contemporary finishes and trim fabrics have been improved. All models get an in-dash six-stacker CD and steering wheel-mounted cruise control buttons.

Instrument clusters in turbocharged and 3.0-litre variants include a multi-function display, including SID visuals and easier-to-read gauges.

The volume 2.0R gains electronic brake assist, 17-inch alloy wheels, chrome-surround grille, dual front, side and curtain airbags, ABS, climate-control air-conditioning, a height-adjustable driver’s seat, a leather gearshift/handbrake lever, trip computer, electric windows/mirrors and sports seats. The 2.5i adds a sunroof.

The 2.5i Premium adds an eight-way electric driver’s seat with dual memory, leather trim and rear window tinting.

The GT has similar equipment levels to the 2.5i Premium but adds the five-speed Sportshift automatic, either vehicle dynamics control (VDC) or satellite navigation, SID, dual-zone air-conditioning, a McIntosh sound system, steering wheel audio controls and SID and Sportshift paddle controls. High-intensity self-levelling high and low beam Bi-Xenon headlights are standard on GT and 3.0-litre variants.

The GT and 3.0R Spec.B adds 18-inch, 10-spoke alloys, alloy pedals, Bilstein suspension and six-speed STi manual gearbox.

Turbocharged 2.5i Premium and 3.0-litre models also get electric driver’s seats (with a dual memory function) and rear window tint while GTs and 3.0R models add dual-zone air-conditioning. Rear-seat ventilation and dual cup holders in the rear centre armrest are also standard on 3.0-litre models.

Except for the Liberty 2.5 GT Spec.B, the MacPherson strut front and multi-link rear suspension remains unchanged, while additional soundproofing has been added to the 2.0R and manual GT.

Subaru Australia expects to sell 750 Libertys a month, up from the current run-rate of 650 a month.

Intelligent offering
JUST exactly what is "Subaru Intelligent Drive"?

SID is designed to provide three distinct levels of power and torque performance by regulating the engine control unit and electronic throttle.

The SID modes are:
Intelligent (I): This provides smooth, fuel-efficient performance equivalent to a 2.0 litre non-turbo engine

Sports (S): Is a linear all round driving performance equivalent to 2.5/3.0 litre non-turbo engine. It is designed for all round driving and provides a quicker but linear throttle response with full engine power and

Sports Sharp (S#): This provides maximum engine power and throttle response throughout the rev range and is designed for the driving enthusiast.

In automatic transmission vehicles gearshift control and torque converter lock up is also regulated according to the mode selected.

Maximum engine power output is reduced in “I” mode by 27 per cent in the 3.0-litre engine, down 180kW at 6600rpm and 297Nm at 4200rpm to 147kW and 200Nm.

The 2.5 turbo engine reduces max torque by 19 per cent and power by 20 per cent to 148kW and 275Nm.

In addition to changes in maximum power output, torque delivery is also calibrated to maximise fuel economy and engine response depending on throttle opening.

The various modes are selected by pressing down on the console mounted SI-Drive selector dial.

Intelligent drive is best used in stop-start city traffic and is useful for driving on slippery road conditions due to a more gentle throttle response.

Manual transmission vehicles also feature an up shift indicator light in the rev counter which flashes to indicate the best time to shift gears for maximum fuel efficiency.

Real world testing by Subaru Australia in local conditions has shown significant fuel consumption improvements in “I” mode compared to “S” mode.

For example, a Liberty GT manual transmission vehicle in “I” mode showed a 14 per cent improvement in the city cycle with the highway cycle achieving a 6 per cent gain over S mode.

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