Subaru Legacy: good, practical, reliable, not very expensive, not as popular as they should be. What gives?
Although made in Japan by a Japanese company, the Subaru Legacy has experienced moments of popularity around the world (I mean the EU and N USA) now and again: episodic, sporadic. It’s not really unwanted and not massively in demand but appeals to a group of customers unevenly distributed. If only Subaru could imagine a way to increase the car’s popularity by a consistent 20% across the board. That is, make the core customer group 20% larger and increase the casual buyers by 20%.
In December 1998 Car wrote that “Subaru doesn’t bother with market research and doesn’t assess cars from rival makers, according to Masaru Katsurada, manager of the new Legacy project.” Without wanting to suggest Subaru simply produce the average of all their competitors, perhaps a teeny bit of market research to identify some key parameters might have helped lure some extra punters for their otherwise excellent Subaru Legacy 2.5 estate.
It wasn’t even expensive, with prices starting at a shade over 2K. The car had its USP of a 2.5 litre boxer engine, capable of 126 mph, and sub-9 second nought to sixty. And it even looked good too. Car did consider the Legacy to be expensive, in relative terms as it cost more than the 1.8 litre Passat turbo wagon (Car considered the 1.8 turbo to be equivalent to the 2.5 boxer) and the Volvo V70 Torslanda (which is a better comparison).
While I think the Legacy looks just fine, Car thought it lacked “class”. And that is a term I’ve always loathed anyway. But even if there is a thing called”class”, the very nice Volvo V70 has not one ounce more of it than the Legacy. Both have their charms.
As Eóin said yesterday, subtlety doesn’t often sell. And putting a lot of work into engineering and clothing it in quiet sheet metal is not a recipe for success. And the rear passenger space was cramped too.
Did Subaru really ignore the competition? It is a bold claim to make but also a claim to be slightly embarrassed about when the effect is that on too many fronts the rather good Legacy handed customers reasons not to buy one.