A Subaru stealing customers from BMW? Impossible? Not really.
It's the Subaru Legacy Sport Sedan, selling for a couple hundred under $20,000 and offering looks and equipment that BMW will have a tough time equaling in its own packages costing quite a bit more.The Legacy Sport Sedan has what it takes to get the job done, in a 160-horsepower turbocharged 2.2-liter four (130 horses in normally aspirated form). Imagine the power output if it had the intercooler that most high-output turbos have come to depend on.
Zero-to-60 in about eight seconds is quick in this desmogged era of ours - not blindingly quick, but certainly no turtle. With the standard 5-speed stick shift, fuel mileage in the low 20s is all right. Especially taking into account the car's 1.5-ton curb weight. This is no flyweight, but then in this safety-ized era of ours, bulk and weight do sell. Just ask Volvo.
The Sport Sedan's suspension has been turned up a notch over the standard model. You might call it stiffened, firmed, tweaked, even infused with a little mechanical cortisone . . . Whatever, the Sport Sedan with its bigger and better tires will get you through your favorite corner quicker, safer and in more of a feel-good state of mind than the standard model.
The seats are comfortable, and the instruments, thankfully, are visible and analog.
But the performance and ride of the Sport Sedan are actually almost secondary to this car's true worth - its staggering list of standard equipment. For the techies among us, there's full-time four-wheel-drive, power four-wheel discs with anti-lock system and speed-sensitive power rack and pinion steering.
For the pampered among us, there's a power sunroof, air, 4-speaker ETR AM-FM stereo radio-cassette with equalizer, power antenna, power windows, power door locks, power remote mirrors, tilt steering wheel with memory (a la Lexus LS400), cruise, intermittent wipers, rear defroster, remote fuel filler and trunk releases, and height and lumbar-adjustable driver's seat.
For the aesthetes among us, there are 15-inch aluminum rims, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, gear selector and handbrake, color-keyed front air dam and rear deck spoiler and even a functional hood scoop.
For the crash-conscious among us, there are 5-mph bumpers and kid-proof locks for the rear doors. But no, there's no air bag. Not yet, anyway.
And for the pessimists among us, there are 3-year/36,000-mile basic, 5-year, 60,000-mile powertrain and 5-year unlimited mileage outer rust warranties.
P.S.: For the shiftless among us, there's a $770-extra four-speed electronically controlled automatic transmission.
Other options you might want or need are luggage rack, rear-deck rack, burglar alarm, fog lights, CD player and (THIS is an option?) floor mats.
But since the perfect car has yet to be built, what's not to like about the Sport Sedan? Well, the engine isn't the quietest in the world, and you'll have to suffer with those motorized monstrosities that the Orient calls "automatic passive restraints," those body-snatchers with which it has become so infatuated over the past five or so years.
The Sport Sedan is one of a growing number of Soobs that has kicked the Ugly Duckling image. But because of its particular market, this one's got to go a bit further. It's got to catch some of the Image and Prestige buyers, and whether status can be bought remains to be seen.