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First look: Liberty GT returns - with SI-Drive!

Revised: Subaru's 2007 Legacy/Liberty GT Spec B made its public debut at the New York show last month.

Banished from sale this year because of high emissions, Subaru's Liberty GT returns

22 May 2006

SUBARU has given its Liberty and Outback range a light dusting, with some modest visual changes for model year 2007 cars - due on sale in Australia in September.

However, the big news is under the bonnet with the return of the GT model, this time in 2.5-litre turbo guise, mated to a six-speed manual transmission or five-speed auto with paddle-shift controls.

The previous 2.0-litre GT, which was discontinued last October, failed to meet tough new emission laws that came into force from January 1.

The new GT is tipped to develop around 182kW at 6000rpm and 326Nm at 3600rpm. Its sedan and wagon predecessor offered 190kW as a (five-speed) manual and 180kW in five-speed auto guise.

It is also likely to gain a Bilstein sports suspension with inverted front struts similar to that in the rally-bred Impreza WRX STI, including aluminium-alloy lower control arms and 18-inch alloys.

The multi-link rear suspension features aluminium-alloy rear arms and upper links in place of cast-iron components to reduce unsprung weight.

High-end models, including the GT, are expected to get what Subaru calls its intelligent drive (SI-Drive), a new technology that enhances driving engagement by allowing the driver to select the level of engine performance.

SI-Drive is expected to be standard on GT, 3.0R and 3.0R Spec B six-cylinder models, along with satellite-navigation.

2 center imageThe SI-Drive dial (pictured at left), mounted like BMW’s iDrive system on the console behind the redesigned transmission shifter, allows the driver to maximise engine performance by choosing from among three selectable modes – Intelligent, Sport and Sport Sharp.

The SI-Drive controls the electronic throttle system’s response and fuel and ignition curves to modify engine torque characteristics, changing the performance character of the car in each mode.

In Intelligent mode the system reduces engine torque and maximum power and switches to a more relaxed throttle response curve and improves fuel consumption by a claimed 10 per cent.

As the name suggests, Sport mode provides quick throttle responses and powerful, linear acceleration.

Sport Sharp mode modifies the engine’s electronic throttle mapping to deliver lightning quick throttle response and more power sooner.

On the autos it changes the transmission’s shift patterns, holding each gear longer through the rpm range and downshifting more quickly under hard acceleration, depending on the mode selected.

The system includes an instrument panel display that allows the driver to monitor performance.

Visually both the Liberty and Outback get a slightly redesigned, deeper grille that carries a bigger logo. The bumpers have also been reprofiled.

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