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 aluminium alloy.
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.
models could naturally be identified by the
air intake scoop on the bonnet.
Engines ranged from
the venerable 2 litre, 2.5 litre SOHC and a 2.0 Turbocharged
2004, a 3.0 litre 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
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.
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
Late in 2006 a facelift brought trim level
changes, and the Safety Pack was dropped. The 2.0 litre
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 litre 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
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