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Chicago show: Subaru reveals 2015 Liberty

New face: The new Subaru Liberty will land in Australia at the same time as the new Outback, in early 2015.

Sedan-only Subaru Liberty outed in the Windy City with new look but no turbo

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Subaru logo7 Feb 2014

By RON HAMMERTON

SUBARU’S bigger and somewhat bolder mid-sized Liberty has been formally unveiled in its American Legacy form at the Chicago motor show, revealing the Japanese company’s new face.

Australian buyers will have to wait about a year before they can get their hands on one of the new models, which this time will be made only in sedan form, dispensing with the five-door wagon sold here in the current range.

The hot turbo-charged GT version is also likely to be dropped, with the smaller, five-door Levorg ‘tourer’ shown at last year’s Tokyo motor show to be called on to fill both the wagon and GT roles in this market. The latter will employ Subaru’s latest 2.0-litre turbo-charged engine from the upcoming WRX/STI range in its flagship variant.

While the Impreza-based Levorg might arrive in Australian showrooms by the end of the year – Subaru Australia is yet to confirm it – the Liberty sedan is scheduled to touch down from the Japanese factory in early 2015, about the same time as the new generation of the related Outback crossover wagon.

The Outback is scheduled to be revealed at the New York motor show in April, and GoAuto is expecting greater styling differentiation this time around.

While some pundits are wringing their hands over the tameness of the Liberty’s production design after the promise of the raunchy Legacy concept shown at the Los Angeles motor show in November, Subaru has clearly set out to not scare the horses amongst its loyal and somewhat conservative customer base in the US where the brand last year was the fastest-growing mainstream car company.

The evolutionary new look includes “hawk-eye” headlights which you can expect on other new models from Subaru, along with the latest take on the traditional Subaru hexagonal grille.

Subaru says the design theme was “muscularity with agility”, with a focus on creating a sportier and more refined styling.

The new model is 51mm longer than before, at 4796mm, and up to 60mm wider, depending on the variant.

It rides on the same 2750mm wheelbase, but Subaru is claiming a more spacious cabin with more room at the shoulder, elbow and waist, as well as greater rear leg room.

Subaru says it moved the A pillars forward to liberate more cabin space, while raising the seats for a more natural seating position.

The new Liberty – the sixth in the Legacy line – will be available with a choice of two carryover-but-tweaked engines: the 2.5-litre four-cylinder boxer and 3.6-litre flat six.

The four-cylinder gains a marginal 3kw of power, to 130kW, while torque rises just one Newton metre, to 236Nm. However, Subaru claims peak torque is now delivered in the main driving rev range, with resultant improvements in fuel consumption.

Strangely, the peak torque of the 3.6-litre six-cylinder engine has dropped by 15Nm, from 350Nm in the current model to 335Nm, while peak power has also lost one kilowatt, to 190kW.

For the first time, the six-cylinder variant gets a continuously variable transmission (CVT) in a beefed-up “high torque” guise, replacing the current five-speed auto. Subaru says this improves driveability and efficiency, although no fuel economy figures have been revealed.

The four-cylinder Liberty already gets the CVT which carries over into the new model.

Subaru says it has enhanced safety by adding the latest gadgets, including active torque vectoring and reversing radar.

Subaru’s proprietary EyeSight anti-collision system now includes blind spot detection, lane change warning and rear cross traffic alert.

As well, driver visibility has been improved by shifting the A pillars, thinning down the door sashes and moving the exterior rear view mirrors to the doors to reduce the front blind spot.

Subaru says the Liberty’s steering, suspension and brakes have all been reworked, promising that the result is a car that steers and handles like a vehicle one class higher.

At the front, Liberty gets fog lights that turn with the steering in the corners, with an automatic off function when other cars are approaching at night.

Greater crash safety is also promised, with a stronger body incorporating more high-tensile steel and improvements to seat belts, airbags, seat construction helping to better protect occupants.

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