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It's one thing writing about new technology. It's another thing all together when you see it in action, especially when it saves your bacon. That's what happened as we were in the midst of test driving the latest Subaru Liberty wagon.
Like its name suggests, Subaru's Eyesight provides a second pair of eyes, to keep an eye on things when you're attention might wander. The system is now standard on the four cylinder 2.5-litre Premium model that we were driving. Two small cameras, located near the rear vision mirror mount, monitor the road ahead.
When it detects a hazard a number of things happen, not the least of which is the car braking automatically if it thinks there's a risk of collision. It can also brake a lot harder and quicker than any human, which means you have a better chance of avoiding an accident.
Our test vehicle was the four cylinder 2.5i Premium wagon with a CVT auto priced from $41,490. The petrol 2.5-litre four cylinder boxer engine produces slightly more power and torque than before at 127kW and 235Nm, with fuel consumption rated at 8.0 litres/100km (we were getting 8.4).
We were supposed to have been driving the entry level model, that does not include Eyesight, but someone pranged it. The gods, it seems, must have been looking out for us?
The Liberty gets a full five stars for safety, regardless of Eyesight or not. But the technology takes things to the next level, "actively" seeking out hazards instead of waiting passively to react to them.
Along with the addition of Eyesight, the engine and automatic transmission have been upgraded in this latest model. The car comes with leather trim and factory-fitted satellite navigation with a new colour information display.
The Liberty is a very competent car. You can punt it hard without worrying about it letting go, not that most people would do so. It is well engineered and very good dynamically, with high levels of mid corner grip. It does however lack some punch when it comes to pulling out and overtaking. Not that that was the cause of the problem in this case. We were travelling on the inside lane of a two-lane roundabout, distracted momentarily by an elderly relative who needed assistance.
Just as we started to leave the roundabout at the second exit, a car travelling in the outside lane decided to continue all the way around, cutting straight across our bow to use some nautical terminology. Quicker than we could react the Liberty braked heavily, scaring the hell out of me because I wasn't expecting it but saving us from certain collision. It happened so fast there wasn't even time to give the offending driver a friendly wave. The Liberty is still not the prettiest car on the road, but it's certainly one of the safest with technology that really works. And it gets you a 20 per cent reduction on your insurance premium. You've got to like that too.
Any day that technology helps avoid an accident and possible injury or death has got to be a good day.
Subaru Liberty Premium wagon
Price: from $41,490
Warranty: 3 years, unlimited km
Engine: 2.5-litre 4-cylinder boxer, 127kW/235Nm
Transmission: CVT auto, AWD
Thirst: 8.0L/100Km, 185g/km CO2
|2.5i||2.5L, PULP, CVT AUTO||$9,900 – 14,960||2013 Subaru Liberty 2013 2.5i Pricing and Specs|
|2.5i GT Premium||2.5L, PULP, 6 SP MAN||$12,500 – 18,040||2013 Subaru Liberty 2013 2.5i GT Premium Pricing and Specs|
|2.5i Premium||2.5L, PULP, CVT AUTO||$10,600 – 15,620||2013 Subaru Liberty 2013 2.5i Premium Pricing and Specs|
|2.5i Sports Premium||2.5L, PULP, CVT AUTO||$11,000 – 16,170||2013 Subaru Liberty 2013 2.5i Sports Premium Pricing and Specs|