Subaru: 2014 WRX Premium review

May 21st, 2014 by Darren Cottingham

DSC_0064As a former WRX STI owner I always look forward to driving the newest incarnation. Mine was a version 4, back in the late 1990s, and I loved it as much as I loved Star Wars when I was kid. Until now I’ve been stuck in that halcyon era of big noise, big exhausts and torquey turbocharged boxer engines. I might just have changed my mind. Continue reading “Subaru: 2014 WRX Premium review” »

Subaru Legacy GT Spec B Premium Wagon 2013 Review

December 2nd, 2013 by Darren Cottingham

Mention a Legacy GT Spec B to anyone of my generation (born in the ‘70s) who had an interest in cars when they were in their 20s and you’ll be regaled usually with fond memories of either ownership, mates who owned one, or the intoxication of the throbbing boxer engine. For those of you who remember the Friday night cruises up Queen Street, those old four-cylinder turbo Legacys in both sedan and wagon form were a fixture of the scene from 1989 through to the early 2000s. It was the mixture of capacious storage and the power to win the traffic lights grand prix that made them so appealing. subaru-legacy-gt.b-2013-rear-quartersubaru-legacy-gt.b-2013-front-interiorBut times move on and the Legacy isn’t any longer the fantasy car of practical boy racers. But should it be? We drove the Legacy X just a few weeks ago. It was quite good, but lacked the old Subaru character and certainly wasn’t fast. Now we’ve got our mitts on this Legacy GT B Premium spec, and it somewhat redresses the balance. It harks back to those original performance Legacys with the bonnet scoop and the kind of acceleration that frightens your granny. Neither the scoop or performance are extreme like they were on some of the Subaru WRX STI models in the past, but they’re there to remind you that in this Legacy the engine needs more than just the air that flows through the grille, and it will reward you with smiles. This vent channels cold air onto the top-mounted intercooler, which improves the turbo’s performance. Power is 195kW and 350Nm from the 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol motor, and it’s driven through a five-speed automatic. This is much better for this type of car than Subaru’s Lineartronic CVT gearbox, but it’s not the most responsive of gearboxes, especially when you compare it to, say, a DSG gearbox in a Volkswagen. 0-100kph feels like it’s in the low 6-second range, though no figure is given by Subaru. It’s not lightning fast off the line, but better when you’re moving. Gear shifts need to be anticipated because they’re a little slow even in manual mode. Continue reading “Subaru Legacy GT Spec B Premium Wagon 2013 Review” »

Subaru Impreza 2.0i X 2013 Review

November 29th, 2013 by Darren Cottingham

With almost all the current Impreza X stock snapped up, you’ll be hunting around the dealerships if you want to get one without waiting a few months for the next shipment. Subaru only brought 250 of the entry-level Imprezas into New Zealand and it certainly resonated with the buying public, because at a shade over thirty grand, the Impreza brings a lot to the party.

subaru-impreza-x-2013-rear-quartersubaru-impreza-x-2013-interiorThe thorn in the side of the Impreza X, though, is the entry level Volkswagen Golf TSI. Subaru cannot continue to solely trade on its rally-bred heritage and all-wheel drive competence to entice buyers now that there’s a Euro to be had for similar money.

That said, $31,990 buys you a lot of features. Five years ago we would have stepped in a car like this with its obviously low-end interior and expected no bells, whistles or other melodic implements. Today you get a very impressive set of standard equipment including dual zone climate control, Bluetooth compatibility, leather steering wheel and gear shift boot, reversing camera, steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters and a well-featured trip computer. It’s just missing the convenience of automatic lights and wipers.

The Impreza X is an entirely different beast to the Golf technically. While VW has been bestowing smaller turbocharged engines upon its models, Subaru has stayed with a trusty two-litre boxer motor with 110kW and 196Nm. It puts the power to the axles via Subaru’s CVT system called Subaru Lineartronic Transmission (SLT). While this is one of the better CVT systems on the market, the VW’s seven-speed DSG twin-clutch gearbox is far more engaging and nicer to drive with less of the unintended surge you can sometimes get with a CVT gearbox at certain revs on seemingly specific gradients. Continue reading “Subaru Impreza 2.0i X 2013 Review” »

Subaru Outback 2.5i Sport 2013 Review

November 11th, 2013 by Darren Cottingham

Skiing, mountain biking, kayaking, wakeboarding: they all need either long or cumbersome equipment, and transport to places where proper tarmac can be sparse. They need a vehicle that’s an enabler. The Outback 2.5i Sport is that vehicle. With four-wheel drive, plenty of ground clearance and a practical station wagon body, it’ll take a family or a group of mates for adventures.

subaru-outback-sport-2.5-2013-rear-quarterThe Outback 2.5i Sport is a raised version of the Legacy 2.5i Sport and is the step below the Forester in terms of off-road capability (the Forester has a few more mm of ground clearance and some extra driving modes to help in the real rough stuff).

subaru-outback-sport-2.5-2013-sideAs well as Symmetrical All-wheel Drive, Subaru’s main safety feature is its EyeSight Preventative Safety System. This consists of a camera either side of the rear-view mirror. The cameras capture a three-dimensional image and can tell if a car is braking ahead of you, or if you’re about to run into a pedestrian. If automatic braking intervention is required, EyeSight can make that decision before you’ve even had time to react to help reduce or diminish the severity of a frontal collision.

EyeSight also takes over the throttle pre-collision, and provides active cruise control, lane departure warning and lead vehicle start alert (when the car in front of you moves out of the way while you’re under adaptive cruise control, or you are stationary and the car in front moves away it beeps to let you know). Continue reading “Subaru Outback 2.5i Sport 2013 Review” »

Subaru Legacy 2.5 X Sedan 2013 Review

October 20th, 2013 by Darren Cottingham

The Legacy 2.5X sits in the middle of the range with the 2.5i Sport at the bottom and the GT Premium at the top. Safety is an ever-increasing buying factor and the 2.5X has the full complement of offerings from Subaru.

subaru-legacy-x-2013-rear-quarterThe two models beneath it don’t get Subaru’s EyeSight preventative safety technology, while the two models above add Subaru Intelligent Drive (SI-Drive) which allows you to adjust driving dynamics and throttle response.

subaru-legacy-x-2013-sideHaving owned a couple of Subarus in the past (one 1991 Legacy RS-RA and one 1996 WRX STI Type R) and being a definite advocate of the brand, it’s very noticeable to me how the character of the vehicles has changed.

Subarus used to have an aura, a sound and a driving manner all of their own; I liked it. Now, the Legacy just feels like any old large sedan that has lost its ‘Subaruness’, albeit a large sedan that rides exceptionally well. Some people might say this is good, though, because they have shed the boy racer image. Continue reading “Subaru Legacy 2.5 X Sedan 2013 Review” »

Subaru Forester 2.5i Sport 2013 Review

April 15th, 2013 by darren


Before the words ‘compact SUV’ were ever uttered, Subaru was making all-wheel drive passenger cars and station wagons with better ground clearance. Now the Forester sits in the midst of one of the fastest growing market segments with its Symmetrical All Wheel Drive (which works full-time), SI-Drive, X-Mode for hill climbs and descents and 220mm ride height, but car-like handling.

Subaru-Forester-rqLet’s cut to the chase: the Forester is an extremely competent all-rounder. For light off-roading, towing (up to 1500kg), transporting people, road trips, supermarket runs and the morning commute the Forester isn’t necessarily the best-in-class for each one, but Continue reading “Subaru Forester 2.5i Sport 2013 Review” »

BRZ Is A Sell Out On Both Sides Of The Tasman

July 20th, 2012 by Karen Joy Provo

Subaru’s BRZ sports car has sold out for 2012 on both sides of the Tasman.

In Australia the 201 cars available between now and the end of the year sold-out after just three hours of being available in an exclusive on line sales site on Subaru Australia’s website.

And all 12 cars allocated to New Zealand have been presold for when they are delivered to customers on December 12.

Demand temporarily stalled Subaru Australia’s website, but after it went “live” the first online customer took just 20 minutes to complete the process, from choosing accessories, completing their contract and paying their deposit.

There were eight orders in the first five minutes and 50 cars sold in 90 minutes in Australia.

BRZ orders in both countries are now against stock due to be delivered in early 2013.

The BRZ is built at Subaru’s Gunma plant in Japan and is offered in a single high specification model with a choice of six speed manual or automatic transmission. The two litre Boxer engine provides 147 kWs.

The sports coupe has achieved a five star ANCAP crash testing rating, the highest possible.

Be Careful With Advice Or Your Name Could Be Mud

July 10th, 2012 by Tim Grimley

If I’m honest, I wasn’t really looking forward to this Saturday. You can fake all the bravado you want to your friends, but when push comes to shove, only a true mental case would actually look forward to putting on a pretty Heath Robinson superman costume composed mostly of women’s undercrackers and crawling through an assortment of freezing swamps.

The Tough Guy and Gal Challenge is one of those events that seems like an absolute hoot sometime around January when severely intoxicated. What a laugh it would be to go for a bit of a jog through the countryside, occasionally pausing to wade through a few streams and finish off with a warm shower and a tincture or two.

Yeah, she’ll be right….

Reality comes with a fairly savage bite when the day comes around and you realise that the actual process involves standing in a series of chilly queues with several hundred people waiting to be shoved into what purports to be water, but actually smells like an outbreak of equine dysentery at the Melbourne Cup. However, despite everything I managed to haul myself around the course and after a freezing shower in the car park, was readying myself for the tincture stage of proceedings when things suddenly took a dramatic turn for the worse.

‘Hey Tim, you know a lot about cars don’t you?’

There is nothing more certain to strike fear into my heart than hearing these words, because the end result is always one of two things. Either someone wants to introduce their Uncle Norris who has spent the last twenty years rebuilding an MG using only his teeth and is dying to spend the next twenty explaining to someone every step of the process in minute detail or even more terrifyingly, they want to talk about a car purchase.

As you well know, people are fairly precious about their beloved automobiles and I’ve yet to discover a way of telling someone that they are a mush-brained berk for choosing a Holden Barina over a Ford Fiesta that doesn’t result in some degree of umbrage being taken. It’s all well and good to take a swipe at a global motor manufacturer who, despite having a small African defence budget to play with, still turn out a rotter of a motor, but I’ve never liked breaking an individual’s heart by telling them that they would have been better off investing their hard-earned wedge on a decent pair of walking boots and a bus pass. Thus, in order to maintain some semblance of integrity, I’m forced to conduct the entire conversation with vague hand gestures and phrases along the lines of “It’s very you”.

Would you take advice from this man?

Although even that is preferable to what I was actually asked: what used car someone should buy in the first place. While I could – and occasionally do – bang on for longer than is socially acceptable about the comparative merits of various manufacturers’ current model range, how a car stacks up several years down the line can be a bit of a lottery.

Take for example the greatest car I have ever bought. It was a Volvo 740 and that was down to the fact it could slide around roundabouts at 20kph with a wardrobe in the back, make your bottom warm on cold mornings, had an entertaining overdrive button on the gear lever in lieu of a fifth gear and only cost $700. It was a thoroughly magnificent beast and is the car I regret selling over all others. Even with 400,000km on the clock it ran like a dream and I would have happily sold it to my best friend, such was my trust in its Nordic abilities.

Although this was a sale unlikely ever to go through due to the fact my best friend refused to get in it. Despite all of the plus points mentioned above, less than careful previous owners meant it had one or two minor foibles such as the roof lining randomly falling off, every door, window and the sunroof leaking like a baby and the whole thing reeking of damp labrador.

If the earlier caretakers had put a smidgen more effort into basic upkeep and not keeping sodden pets in the back it would have been perfect. A car is only as good as the people who have used it and until the day someone starts vetting the social and mechanical standards of people, the process of purchasing an older vehicle will always be a bit of a lottery.

And therefore if faced with the same situation, I can only recommend you take the option I did; resort to abject cowardice and come up with a solution that you are absolutely confident no-one will buy. My recommendation of the Renault Laguna station wagon as a safe, practical, fun and reasonably economical family option was totally on the mark, but there is not a cat in hells chance anyone spending $10,000 of their own money would risk one over the likes of Subaru’s Legacy or Nissan’s Primera.

I’ll admit it was pretty shameful behaviour for one dressed as a superhero, but after that mud run, I was happy to get out of sticky situations in any way I could.

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