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First look: Subaru previews its next new Liberty

Aggressive: Legacy Concept heralds a bold new look for Subaru's mid-sizer.

Subaru previews its next-gen Liberty via the first image of Detroit's Legacy Concept

18 Dec 2008

SUBARU may have shocked the world this week by announcing its withdrawal from the same World Rally Championship that has helped establish its all-wheel drive rally-bred reputation for the past 19 years, but that hasn't stopped it providing us with a sneak-peek at the fifth generation of its volume-selling Liberty mid-sizer.

The three-times WRC winner has revealed a teaser image of whta it dubs the Legacy Concept, which will make its global public debut at the 2009 North American International Auto Show in Detroit on January 11.

The redesigned Liberty, which is known as the Legacy in the US, is expected to be similar to next month’s show car, and will go on sale in Australia, Subaru's thrid largest market globally, alongside its all-new Outback crossover twin around October next year.

As the preview image shows, Subaru’s all-new Liberty should feature an aggressive new look complete with wildly flared wheel-arches and vertically stacked low and high-beam headlight globes, which are echoed by tall and narrow fog lights mounted wide in a gaping new front bumper/grille design.

According to the Fuji Heavy Industries (FHI) press release, the 2009 Legacy Concept celebrates 20 years of Legacy sedan production since 1989 and aims to “showcase the direction of future Legacy sedan design”.

Biggest technical news is confirmation next year’s new Liberty will come powered by Subaru’s new 3.6-litre horizontally-opposed six-cylinder engine, which currently delivers 190kW and 350Nm of torque in the facelifted Tribeca SUV.

The bigger-capacity flat-six petrol engine should replace the 180kW/297Nm 3.0-litre boxer currently available in the Liberty and Outback, as both models’ new top-shelf engine option alongside the 2.5-litre flat-four, which currently produces 127kW/226Nm in naturally-aspirated guise and 184kW/339Nm in turbocharged Liberty 2.5GT form.

As previously reported, the all-new Liberty sedan and wagon model range is not expected to offer the brand’s first turbo-diesel engine, which develops 108kW/350Nm.

Already available in the current Liberty/Outback in Europe, the oil-burning 2.0-litre flat-four will make its debut here in the new Outback late next year and should also power the Forester from 2010 and, eventually, the third-generation Impreza too.

FHI says North America has accounted for 43 per cent of worldwide Liberty sales to date, with global production exceeding 3.6 million vehicles.

The new Liberty will be built at Gunma in Japan for Australian consumption, as well as at Subaru’s Lafayette plant in Indiana.

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