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Subaru Outback

Mk3 Liberty and Outback

1 Oct 1998

Big changes heralded the Mk3 Liberty and Outback range.

Subaru claimed the wagon was designed expressly as such from the outset, and launched it six months before the Mk3 sedan just to prove it.

Much was all new, from the platform (which featured a sophisticated multi-link rear suspension) and 92kW 2.0 and 115kW 2.5 litre four-cylinder boxer engines to the in-house designed 4-speed auto transmission, brakes and interior.

Subaru discontinued offering front-wheel drive variants now, so all models were 4WD – or “all-wheel drive” in company-speak. Anti-lock brakes, dual airbags and air-conditioning were now standard fitment.

The Liberty came in base GX 2.0, RX 2.5 and Heritage 2.5 sedan and wagons, while the Outback arrived as the 2.5 and Limited 2.5. Each year in August, slightly re-specified models appeared.

In 2000 a stability-enhancing device called VDC was added to the Heritage wagon while the range received improved trim and convenience features. In October the Outback was boosted with the option of a 154kW 3.0-litre ‘boxer’ six-cylinder auto-only luxury H6 variant.

The ‘01 change (for the MY02 models) included a small facelift, with revised headlight, bonnet and front bumper designs, a new grille and minor interior revisions. There were also modifications to the manual gearbox, suspension stability and engine efficiency.

At the same time the 190kW twin-turbocharged Liberty B4 sports sedan thundered in, and that was joined by a 5-speed auto version a year later.

In October ’02, the Outback Limited gave way to the Luxury. Value-added short-run edition Libertys included the ’01 GX “Limited Edition” and the ’02 and ’03 GX “Special Edition” – the latter also available in RX guise.

There was also an Outback “Limited Edition” in May ’01. All were painted either silver or white.

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