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New models - Subaru - Liberty - 2.0R

Liberty's change of heart

Base beat: The new twin-cam 2.0R Liberty enjoys a 20 per cent power hike over its 2.0i predecessor.

More power should boost the base mid-sized Subaru’s appeal against popular rivals

4 Jan 2006

AFTER a year of bolstering its top-end Liberty range with extra turbocharged and six-cylinder models, Subaru has turned to the bottom end.

A naturally aspirated 2.0-litre four-cylinder Liberty returns in the form of the base-model 2.0R.

It sports a revised version of the previous 2.0i’s 1994cc ‘Boxer’ engine, featuring a double-overhead cam - instead of a single-cam - configuration.

As a result the 2.0R’s power output is 121kW at a lofty 6800rpm, compared to 101kW at 5600rpm for the 2.0i, which was discontinued just last August.

However torque output remains the same at 187Nm, but tops out at a more-accessible 3200rpm previously that happened at 4400rpm.

Interestingly the 2.0R’s maximum power output now matches the 2.5i’s, although as expected it occurs earlier (at 5600rpm) in the larger engine.

Gearbox choices continue to be a four-speed automatic or five-speed manual, married to Subaru’s constant all-wheel drive system.

With either transmission the 2.0R’s fuel consumption combined average is 9.1 litres per 100km, up from the 8.3 and 8.7L/100km figures the respective manual and automatic 2.0i Liberty managed.

Other changes to the range include the deletion of the entry-level ‘2.5i’ model, leaving the ‘2.5i Safety’ as the cheapest 2.5-litre Liberty you can buy.

To compensate Subaru has reduced each 2.5i variant by $1500, beginning at $35,990 for the manual sedan.

Subaru has also implemented the five-star ANCAP-achieving dual front, side and curtain airbag armada in all models.

Limited capacity from Fuji Heavy Industries – Subaru’s Japanese parent – means that only 100 to 110 2.0R Liberty sedan and wagons are slated for Australia each month in the short term.

Nonetheless Subaru hopes it and the re-priced 2.5i Safety models will boost the Liberty against the big-selling Mazda6 and Honda Accord Euro competition.

“We had a little bit of a gap with the 2.0i-litre cars (since their recent demise)”, says Subaru Australia’s national corporate affairs manager David Rowley.

“But with the twin-cam 2.0R model and new pricing we feel that both are very likely to bring new customers into the Liberty range,” he adds.

Prices for the 2006 Subaru Liberty range start at $31,990 for the 2.0R five-speed manual sedan.

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