The in-dash push button engine start / stop is becoming an automotive affectation. Originally it was fitted to unique racing cars and their highly tuned road-going derivatives. These days it is increasingly finding its way into vehicles of all brands and price tags.
Ironically, such a system will not work without the proximity of a computer controlled key fob, all of which requires more effort than simply slotting the key into the ignition and turning it to fire up the motor.
Sundry stressful situations tracking down the key, from pocket to centre console, were put behind me with the new Subaru Liberty 2.5 sedan – keyless entry but buttonless start-up. How good is that?
Not that there is anything yesterday about the car. For a start (or in this case stop) there’s an electric parking brake situated on a reworked centre console, a one-touch lane-change indicator, revised instrument panel, dashboard colour scheme and USB connection.
And the one-time shrinking violet looks of the Liberty have made way for a more assertive character thanks to a new grille and front fog light surrounds, plus modern alloy wheel designs.
Our test car carried an option pack which includes leather upholstery, satellite navigation and new colour info display adding $3000 to the price, the sat nav sporting a particularly clear on-screen street naming, which was most welcome for this gentleman of a certain age.
Among the crop of changes to the MY13 range, the most pleasing economy for the newLiberty is a $2000 trim in price, putting the entry level model at just $32,990.
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION
The new generation horizontally-opposed boxer engine is linked to the latest Lineartronic continuously variable transmission and a revised Subaru symmetrical all-wheel-drive system. The CVT has a six-speed manual mode with steering wheel-mounted paddles.
Subaru engineers have waved a magic wand over the 2.5-litre motor to gain major improvements – power is up by three per cent (127 kW), torque by 3.3 pc (235 Nm), while fuel economy is cut by 4.8 pc (7.9 litres per 100 kilometres on the combined urban/highway cycle) and carbon dioxide emissions are down 5.7 per cent (182 g per kilometre).
It’s no surprise that the Liberty test car took to local conditions admirably, Australia had input here with tests being conducted Down Under.
Much attention was paid to the drivability of the vehicle in the mid-to-low speed torque range, while the new Lineartronic CVT is quieter, lighter and more compact.
The CVT has taken the car to a new level of fuss-free driving. The paddle-shift manual mode is competent but adds little to the overall driving experience for those wanting a little more action.
Handling and stability have been given a fillip through revision of the all-wheel-drive system, stiffening of the suspension and a sharpened steering response. Noise vibration and harshness also comes in for improvement with changes in the construction of suspension systems.
The Subaru Liberty has always maintained a spot at the heart of middle-of-the-road motoring. The latest incarnation looks to be in no mood to relinquish its position.
Liberty 2.5i sedan auto: from $32,990
Liberty 2.5i wagon auto: from $34,990
Liberty 2.5i sedan auto with leather and factory-fitted satellite navigation pack: from $35,990
Liberty 2.5i wagon auto with leather and factory-fitted satellite navigation pack: from $37,990
Liberty 2.5i Premium sedan auto: from $39,490
Liberty 2.5i Premium wagon auto: from $41,490
Liberty 2.5i sedan
Price: from $32,990
Engine: 2.5-litre 4-cyl petrol, 127kW/235Nm
Transmission: CVT auto, 4WD