Subaru Liberty X

What is it?
One for the farmers, I reckon.

What’s in it?
A 127-kilowatt 2.5-litre four-cylinder with a continuously variable gearbox.

Is it thirsty?
I used 12 litres per 100 km in the city, 7.8 in the country. The official combined figure is 8.

Drive away

Thumbs up
Its ability on rough roads and its build quality.

Thumbs down
It sure looks funny.

Subaru Liberty 3.6XThere may be logic behind Subaru’s Liberty X. Even so it may just go down as one of those things that seemed like a good idea at the time.

The X is a premium Liberty with the suspension jacked up 50 millimetres. That may not sound like much but it is very noticeable, and it’s the car’s only problem; it looks weird.

There’s a generous gap between the top of the tyre and the bottom of the wheel arch. Car designers call this the dead cat space – truly – and they go out of their way to minimise it. The X maximises it and now we can see the car designers’ point.

No one at my gym liked it. A woman who has been into Subarus since they launched in Australia in 1971 (she just traded her Liberty on an XV) said it looked so funny she wouldn’t even consider it. Even some friends who saw in the dark said it was odd.

Subaru has jacked it up for two reasons. First it makes entry and egress for older people easier, a big reason why they choose SUVs, and secondly because with 200 mm of ground clearance the Liberty becomes a natural for people who regularly face challenging topography; farmers, country drivers and even city folk with very steep drives.

So I broke off my regular road test route to take the X along a very rough, potholed, actually downright nasty forestry track and it acquitted itself faultlessly. With all-wheel-drive it’s as competent as many SUVs and a long way better than some when the going gets rough.

The suspension is tight; tight enough to make the ride quite firm, but out in the potholed wilderness this makes the car most reassuring. It feels unbreakable and throughout it remains comfortable and reasonably quiet.

Published April 2013