Subaru Liberty (Gen 4)

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Subaru

Subaru Liberty (Generation 4)

2004 -
Country:
Japan
Engine:
4 Cyl / 6 Cyl
Capacity:
2.0 / 2.5 / 2.5T / 3.0
Power:
98kW / 184 kW
Transmission:
5/6sp Man. / 4 sp Auto
Top Speed:
235 Km/h (3.0R)
Number Built:
n/a
Collectability:
n/a
by Dominic Franco

In 2003 Subaru released the Generation 4 Liberty. The styling of this model was a further evolution, exuding both elegance and simplicity of form from an understated profile of clean lines, reminiscent of the current crop of Audi's. Inevitably the body grew in dimension, with increases to the width, front and rear track as well as the wheelbase.

While this should have had the knock-on effect of increasing body weight, the Subaru engineers countered this by utilizing lighter materials; The bonnet, the structural crossbeam behind the instrument panel and the wagon’s tailgate were all made of aluminum alloy.

The front headlights featured an attractive tear-drop effect, and the repeater indicators were now mounted on the side door mirrors. Model designation (representing as always the various levels of trim) were changed, the former RX and GX being dropped in favour of Safety Pack, Premium, Luxury and GT.

The reality of these new levels of trim was that it was becoming increasingly more difficult to tell the different models apart. Gone were the large model designation nameplates, engine capacity, level of trim etc badges. to assist in identifying them from the outside.

In keeping with the understated appearance, it was simply the Subaru star cluster badge on the front grille whilst the rear boot had the Subaru badge along with the Liberty nameplate. The turbo models could naturally be identified by the air intake scoop on the bonnet.

Engines ranged from the venerable 2 liter, 2.5 liter SOHC and a 2.0 Turbocharged models. In 2004, a 3.0 liter engine was included on the 3.0R and 3.0R B sedan and wagon. The EZ30 6 cylinder DOHC engine was based on the boxer design, and featured both variable timing and variable valve lifts. It produced an impressive 180 kW.

This was mated to a 6 speed manual gearbox for the 3.0R B models, and if anyone doubted the performance pedigree of these fine automobiles, the Japanese decision to include Bilstein suspension would have laid that to rest. Co-developed by both Australian and Japanese engineers, the new suspension configuration afforded the Liberty levels of adhesion far beyond what could, or should, be afforded a "family" sedan. Did I mention that the tuned turbocharged engines were the equivalent of the homologized rally version Impreza WRX STi.

Safety was also key for all Subaru’s and the Liberty was no exception. Driver and passenger air bags as well as side and side curtain air bags with anti lock brakes formed part of the safety equipment. Independent tests by the ANCAP - Australian New Car Assessment Program - gave the Liberty its top rating of 5 stars. While security of the vehicle was enhanced with the DataDot security system.

The DataDot system uses 7000 microscopic dots, each with the Vehicle Identification number or VIN, laser etched to each, making it virtually impossible for would be car-thief’s to "re-birth" the car. In 2003 Subaru had won its first Car of the Year in Japan with the Liberty, then in 2004 the 2.5i won Australia’s Best Mid-Size car for the 2.5i and, in 2005, won Australia’s Best Luxury Car Under $57000 for the 3.0R. A limited build of 300 Liberty GT's, tuned by Subaru Tecnica International (STIi), were released in 2006.

Late in 2006 a facelift brought trim level changes, and the Safety Pack was dropped. The 2.0 liter engine was now a DOHC engine producing 121 kW, and a GT Special now joined the impressive Liberty line up, it featuring a Spec B 2.5 liter turbocharged engine producing 184 kW. The front grille and rear lights for both the sedan and wagon were restyled slightly, while inside equipment levels were upgraded. Most importantly, the steering wheel was now also adjustable for reach.

Wagon versions were complemented for all levels of trim and even included a GT Special. Turbo models included SI Drive, Subaru Intelligent Drive. A dial on the centre console provides 3 drive modes: 'Intelligent' mode provides a balance of power and economy ‘Sport’ mode provides more acceleration, while 'Super Sport' mode provides better throttle response.

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