Subaru Liberty 2016 review
Marcus Craft road tests and reviews the updated Subaru Liberty 3.6R with Australian launch.
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The price is right to own Europe’s car of the year.
It comes as a sedan, a regular wagon or offroad-styled Alltrack. Its super-competitive pricing, starting from $34,990, puts it within reach of Falcon and Commodore buyers — many of whom will be looking soon for alternatives.
The base 132TSI and upspec Comfortline version share a 1.8-litre petrol engine and seven speed auto, and the 140TDI Highline is a 2.0-litre diesel with six-speeder.
The 132TSI Comfortline is $39,990 and the 140TDI Highline is $45,990 before option packs.
Standard equipment includes nine airbags, satnav, three-zone climate control aircon and 6.5-inch touchscreen.
The Comfortline adds leather upholstery, bolstered sport seats, foglights with fixed cornering lights, keyless entry and push-button start. Safety gear includes front assist with city emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, side assist, lane assist and rear traffic alert.
Its eight-inch touchscreen is easier and gets the Discover Pro infotainment upgrade.
Petrol versions get 17-inch alloys as standard and the diesel has 18s. There are self-healing tyres and a full-size alloy spare.
Its longer wheelbase delivers better dynamics and interior space, while the styling draws plenty of admiring glances.
Occupying the sweet spot, the Comfortline is well worth the extra $5000 in terms of resale alone. The diesel’s premium is pretty steep.
It is worth noting the smaller stablemate Jetta sedan, also $39,990 for the top-of-the-line variant, enjoys similar styling and could well be a rival.
The Volkswagen badge has plenty of cachet and the latest Passat lives up to the promise. Its longer wheelbase delivers better dynamics and interior space, while the styling draws plenty of admiring glances.
Badge tragics may be unable to resist the related Audi A4 — their loss.
Slide behind the wheel for the first time and the sporty seats feel big and cushy. The meaty bolsters can catch the hip on entry — we’ve encountered worse but it could be problematic for those who aren’t as lithe as they once were.
Large blind spot warning lights take much of the guesswork out of the cut and thrust of city driving. Measuring about 5cm long, they are on the inside edge of the exterior mirrors, delivering a bright warning when there’s a hazard.
In contrast, the engine auto shutdown is still a right royal pain. It lags, right when you need it most, pulling into the stream of traffic where every second counts. You can turn it off, but you have to do that each time you start the car.
Front and rear parking sensors plus a large rear-view camera image ease the squeeze into parking spaces.
The 1.8-litre four-cylinder turbo is one of our favourites and it doesn’t use much juice. VW has contrived to narrow the fuel consumption gap between its petrol and diesel engines, to the point where you could realistically consider either.
Smooth and quiet, the 1.8 delivers plenty of punch, particularly in sport mode, which keeps the gearbox in a lower gear.
The steering is accurate and the car sits securely on the road, rounding up nicely when pushed enthusiastically.
Eco mode on the other hand trims about 500rpm from the gear shift points, gets into higher ratios more quickly and is less responsive to the throttle.
A software update has helped smooth out some of the awkwardness that the dual-clutch transmission formerly showed on takeoff and when confronted with the rapid speed changes required in city traffic.
There’s plenty of urge for overtaking, the steering is accurate and the car sits securely on the road, rounding up nicely when pushed enthusiastically.
Out on the open road, however, drivers will begin to lament the absence of paddle-shifters.
On reflection, the base Passat with cloth upholstery that we drove a few months back felt utilitarian. The Comfortline in contrast feels aspirational, something you wouldn’t mind owning.
Last year’s Euro car of the year and a Carsguide COTY contender (a creditable fourth).
Some call it the German Camry, no bad thing. Comfy, spacious, thrifty and doesn’t cost a bomb.
Plenty of wow factor and all-round desirability. VW has taken an average-looking car and made it into something special.
Not much missing. The extra $5K for the Comfortline model pretty much covers everything but be careful ticking the options box.
VW sells a lot more Golfs than Passats in Australia but this model could change the equation, especially at the price, and capped servicing provides some surety.
|132 TSI||1.8L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO||$14,990 – 25,500||2016 Volkswagen Passat 2016 132 TSI Pricing and Specs|
|132 TSI Comfortline||1.8L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO||$14,990 – 33,520||2016 Volkswagen Passat 2016 132 TSI Comfortline Pricing and Specs|
|140 TDI Highline||2.0L, Diesel, 6 SP AUTO||$19,888 – 42,499||2016 Volkswagen Passat 2016 140 TDI Highline Pricing and Specs|
|206TSI R-LINE||2.0L, PULP, 6 SP AUTO||$34,990 – 42,988||2016 Volkswagen Passat 2016 206TSI R-LINE Pricing and Specs|