Though designed to attract WRX owners moving up the socioeconomic ladder, the Subaru Legacy 2.5 GT is more a cruiser than a carver.
Our fully-loaded 2005 Subaru Legacy 2.5 GT Limited came with the Sportshift automatic transmission and VTD AWD system. We wish we’d tried the stick-shift and its viscous-coupling locking center differential, because with our test car’s powertrain combination we discovered significant turbo lag and an engine that doesn’t feel like it’s making 250 horses.
Power is decent, just not impressive, though you’ve gotta watch throttle application because when turbo does get spooled up its delivery can be abrupt. In normal mode the transmission short shifts and is slow to downshift for more power. Sport mode is helpful for holding revs longer and downshifting quicker. Manual shifting the Sportshift transmission is best for performance driving, and the lever works intuitively by pushing up for upshifts and pulling down for downshifts. Shift buttons on the front of the steering wheel spokes are mostly useless and hard to find when shuffle steering on a twisty road.
Slowing is sometimes as hard as going. Though the Legacy 2.5 GT’s brakes are upsized and vented all around for improved cooling, the ones on our test car began to shudder after repeated hard use and exhibited a disconcerting tendency to fade during mid-pedal applications. Pedal feel and modulation were fine, but continuous and steady application resulted in an odd fading feel.
Handling is hampered, too. With Sportshift, throttle application when powering out of turns can result in unpredictable bursts of turbo power that suddenly push the Legacy wide until the driver dials in more steering to counteract the effect. Then, if you lift off the gas, the Legacy abruptly tucks its nose in. The result is a car that can be hard to balance, and while this unpredictable nature at the limits is fun and challenging, it is unlikely to be appreciated by the Legacy 2.5 GT’s intended audience, which will probably want a stability control system given the quirky handling character.
Furthermore, the Legacy 2.5 GT’s 215/45 tires stick decently but their narrow footprints and all-season nature produce lower limits than might be expected. Good thing the Legacy 2.5 GT’s steering offers direct, linear response with good heft and feel, making it easy to place the car upon entry to turns and fine-tune the input during cornering. But the Momo steering wheel is not much fun to hold, thanks to multiple seams on the wheel rim.
Softly tuned for a smooth ride quality, the Legacy 2.5 GT’s suspension allows too much body roll and does a poor job of managing weight transition at the limits– especially during abrupt maneuvers. However, the payoff is a supple ride quality that, in our opinion, provides a better mix of road feel, controlled body motion, and soft ride quality than a BMW 3 Series.
Visibility is also a big bonus. With thin roof pillars, zero rear headrest obstruction, and large heated sideview mirrors, the Legacy 2.5 GT provides a terrific view out.