Last Chance To Buy: Subaru Legacy

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When is it going?

The Legacy is not exactly going, but it is having a mild makeover and will be relaunched next month. Considering the changes are slight, you should stick with the old one.

What's good about it?

Plenty. The Legacy still struggles for a personality, but it just gets on with the job. Its real appeal is the build quality and technology. It has the ability to extricate itself from a muddy field thanks to permanent four-wheel drive. Not surprisingly, the levels of grip are incredible. The Outback is an interesting variant: Subaru proclaimed it as the world's first sport utility estate. Certainly with eight inches of clearance and fatter tyres it can cope well with the rough stuff. Along with all that is a very slick gearbox, and the brakes are reassuringly firm, as is the ride. Parts prices are high, but owners don't need to buy them too often. Fuel consumption is not a strong point, although the 2.0 and 2.2 will get within a shout of 30mpg.

What's bad about it?

Depreciation is steep, especially for the less popular saloon. The 2.0 and 2.2 engines are merely adequate and the flat-four engines don't sound that special. The bad news is the fuel economy; you might struggle to get into the low 20s, but get enthusiastic and it soon plunges.

How much?

The Legacy has never sold in large numbers and sometimes dealers will offer incentives, especially on the less popular saloon models. At main dealers Hylton of Shrewsbury 0845 3383393 they had new unregistered 2005 saloons with up to £5,000 off. Indeed, the Spec B which is normally £27,945 cost £22,895.

Any snags?

Hardly any, but a full service history is a must. There are some scruffy ex-rural dwellers around, but Legacies are hard to kill. However, check the gearbox for wear and noise and an auto box for slick changes.

Fact File

Launched: 1998

Engine size: 2.0, 2.5, 3.0

Performance: 2.5: 0-60mph in 8.9 seconds; top speed of 126mph

Economy: 29.7mpg

NCAP: Outback four stars

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