BUILD it and they will come.
Along with the classic Kevin Costner film Field of Dreams, 1989 gave us the first Liberty, a quality midsizer that culminated with the sleek Mk4 of 2003, before supersized Yanks demanded a more bloated and blunter version that tarnished Liberty’s oncestrong image.
Not surprisingly, the latter failed to resonate with Japanese consumers, prompting the launch of a smaller, lighter, Impreza/ WRX-based Levorg wagon. Yes, it spells ‘grovel’ backwards, but that hasn’t stopped a sales stampede in Japan, and the Aussie distributors are counting on a repeat performance when two versions arrive – base and Premium – in June starting around $45K.
Now, Subaru hates us calling Levorg a WRX wagon, even though most panels up to the B-pillar are shared, as are the platform and running gear, including the 2.0-litre direct-injection fourcylinder turbo boxer, driving all four wheels (with a 45/55 rear-axle bias) through the company’s Lineartronic CVT.
Though fundamentally identical in suspension set-up (struts up front, double wishbones behind), the newcomer has been tuned for greater comfort, in line with consumers’ expectations.
Oz-bound examples might even include Bilstein shockers. The GT Spec B Subie is back!
Sampled over a few laps of the Japanese Olympic bicycle racing team’s training centre – a smooth but twisting 5km course – the 221kW homespec GT and flagship GT-S guises revealed little about the Levorg’s ride, since it felt comfortable and quiet. But the fluid steering, impressively flat cornering attitude and muscular acceleration would seem incredibly familiar to fans of the reactive and involving WRX.
It only left us wanting more, but the drive day was bereft of public roads. Note, however, that the Aussie version will only develop 201kW.
The Levorg’s athletic intent is reflected in the wide wheelarch stance and sleeker silhouette compared to any previous Liberty equivalent, but it still has ample space for four adults and their gear.
On the other hand, despite the proliferation of advanced driver tech, brilliant front seats, excellent driving position, leather trim, classy instrument dials, and surprisingly accommodating rear quarters, the interior architecture feels samey in the contemporary Subaru manner.
Overall, though, the Levorg represents a clarion call for loyalists to reconsider Subaru’s sporty credentials, underlined by the signature boxer-driven personality. Subaru has built it.
Let’s see if they come.
No manual option; power drop for Oz versions; unadventurous cabin Size; performance; handling; roadholding; versatility; design Model Engine Max power Max torque Transmission Kerb weight 0-100km/h Economy Price On sale Subaru Levorg 2.0 DIT 1998cc flat 4, dohc, 16v, turbo 221kW @ 5600rpm 400Nm @ 2000-4800rpm CVT automatic 1570kg 6.2sec (estimated) 7.6L/100km $45,000 (estimated) June 2016
Subaru is contemplating bringing the smaller-engined Levorg here, powered by a 125kW/250Nm 1.6-litre turbo flat-four/CVT combo, with the same suspension tune but smaller wheels and tyres than the standard Japanesespec 2.0 DIT. A 5km loop in one revealed a quieter, softer driving experience, but still with enough urge and involvement to make it an interesting alternative to the mid-spec Mazda 6 wagons that it would compete against. We reckon there would be a ready market for a more traditional Subie estate.