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Subaru Liberty 3.0R 2005 Review

The Spec B has been available in manual for months, but it's the auto that will more likely attract the attention of a buyer in the $50,000-plus segment.

Not that I'd suggest that anyone in that buyer range had gotten soft or lazy, but constant clutch use can become tiresome even with the most delightful of gearboxes, so why not try for the best of both worlds.

Plus the auto is cheaper ... and that's no misprint. The six-speed manual is a gearbox sourced from the STi-side of Subaru and it obviously comes at price.

The svelte new look of the Liberty did not appeal initially, but the look has grown on most people, with the airy cabin providing a bit more space than its predecessor.

This top-spec model gets plenty to talk about in the cabin – leather trim on the electrically-adjustable front sports seats sets the tone for the plush cabin. The neat red instruments, lit up beneath the darkened screen, has enthusiastic needles that swing across the dials on start-up.

The red rim lighting around the instruments hints at the car's slightly evil nature by flaring up after you've turned the engine off. It's a good sort of evil, the kind of street-sleeper ability that shows little beyond the sharp alloy wheels to suggest the Suby can hit 100km/h a blink over eight seconds. The three-litre flat-six is not an STi-firecracker powerplant in the upper reaches of its rev range, nor does it possess bucket loads of torque.

There's more than enough urge when the right pedal is pressed, leaping away from standstill using 180kW and 297Nm to great effect, accompanied by a nice engine note that is best appreciated with windows down.

The stance is low and it has a hint of purpose, again thanks to the 18in alloy wheels, but the Bilstein suspension does more than just help the car look good on its rims, giving a well-damped ride and the ability to rip through the corners with finesse. It has plenty of grip – a given with Subaru's all-wheel drive – but the drivetrain's traction doesn't detract from the drive experience.

The quality of in-car audio has grown exponentially in recent years and the top-spec Subarus are among the leaders for top-grade sound.

The McIntosh sound system is first-rate, thanks to Subaru and McIntosh co-operating to make it part of the car's development, and such attention has paid off. The McIntosh system, with 13 speakers including new midrange speakers and a subwoofer, pumps out serious volume with little audible quality loss.

There's no shortage of safety or comfort features – anti-lock brakes with and Electronic Brakeforce Distribution, full length side curtain airbags as well as dual front and side airbags, front seatbelts with pretensioners (double for the driver) and load limiters. The driver also gets a tilt-adjustable steering column, with climate control, cruise control, power-adjustable driver's and front passenger seat, sunroof, Momo leather-trimmed steering wheel, trip computer, power mirrors and windows among the standard fare. The Liberty Spec B auto is listed at $50,990 – $1000 less than the model equipped with the STi-sourced six-speed manual gearbox. It's also about $4000 less than the Liberty GT, without losing out terribly in the performance stakes, not to mention the probable lower insurance premiums.

Subaru aims this Liberty at the most obvious mid-sized competition – the upcoming Mazda6 MPS – with the prestige German marques of BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi also listed as targets.

The quality of the cabin as well as the impressive on-road behaviour suggests that this particular Liberty model will go a long way to pinching owners from all of the above.

SMALL TORQUE

Subaru Liberty 3.0R Spec B Auto

Price: $50,990
Engine: Three-litre DOHC flat-six with Active Valve Control System (AVCS) and Variable Valve Lift
Power: 180kW at 6600rpm
Torque: 297Nm at 4200rpm
Fuel consumption: Claimed combined consumption 11.1 litres/100km
Performance: 0-100km/h 8.2 seconds, top speed 243km/h
Brakes: 310mm ventilated front discs and 290mm ventilated rear discs, with ABS and EBD

Pricing guides

$6,990
Based on 53 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$3,995
Highest Price
$13,881

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
2.0i 2.0L, ULP, 4 SP AUTO $4,600 – 7,480 2005 Subaru Liberty 2005 2.0i Pricing and Specs
2.0i Luxury 2.0L, ULP, 5 SP MAN $4,500 – 7,260 2005 Subaru Liberty 2005 2.0i Luxury Pricing and Specs
2.5i 2.5L, ULP, 5 SP MAN $5,000 – 7,810 2005 Subaru Liberty 2005 2.5i Pricing and Specs
2.5i Premium 2.5L, ULP, 4 SP AUTO $5,300 – 8,250 2005 Subaru Liberty 2005 2.5i Premium Pricing and Specs
Pricing Guide

$3,995

Lowest price, based on 44 car listings in the last 6 months

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