Subaru Liberty being killed off in Australia, no new model coming

Brett Davis

Subaru Australia has confirmed it is ending the availability of the Subaru Liberty (called Legacy overseas) after a 30-plus-year stint on the market. It looks like the next-gen Subaru Liberty, with its new 2.4 turbo, won’t be coming to Australia after all.

The local arm has sold over 153,000 examples of the Liberty nameplate since it arrived here in 1989. It was a popular contender in the mid-size sedan class, but as SUVs have become more and more popular, Subaru Australia has decided to pull the pin. It’s expected the current model will be available until around the end of this year. In a statement, Subaru Australia managing director, Christian Dinsdale, said:

“While customer preferences have moved on to other vehicles in our range, Liberty has played a hugely influential role in the brand’s growth and reputation for engineering, safety, durability and retained value. It was our first model with global appeal and moved the brand away from its utilitarian roots to becoming a respected automotive company.”

In the past two years Subaru has sold just 2441 examples of the Liberty in this country, which pales in comparison to the platform-sharing SUV cousin, the Outback, which has posted 13,844 sales in the same period. According to VFACTS figures, so far this year (through August) the local arm has sold just 573 examples of the Liberty, down 24.3 per cent over the same period last year, and down 58.7 per cent compared with last August.

To put that into perspective, Mercedes-Benz has sold more of its CLA-Class luxury mid-size luxury cars in that period, with 1319 units, while Ford has sold 2029 Mustangs. In fact, more local buyers have purchased a BMW X7 over the first eight months of this year, with 576 sales.

It’s not just the Liberty that suffers in its class, though. Unless your nameplate starts with a ‘C’ and ends in ‘amry’ there isn’t much hope for the vehicle category. It’s reporting a 26.2 per cent drop in sales year-to-date (YTD). Only the Peugeot 508, Honda Accord, and Subaru Levorg are reporting positive percentages YTD, mainly due to the first two recently launching as a new model. Dinsdale said,

“For those customers still seeking a Subaru sedan, we remind them that current generation Impreza closely mimics the physical size of third generation Liberty sedan and, of course, offers the same symmetrical All-Wheel Drive attributes. Equally, WRX is a performance sedan option that is probably the closest relative to the various turbocharged Liberty variants, such as the RS, GT and tuned by STI, which captured the hearts of so many enthusiastic drivers in their heyday.”

This means we will probably have to wait for the next-gen Subaru Outback to arrive to experience the new 2.4-litre turbo engine. Local market arrival is likely to take place during the first half of next year.

Although Subaru hasn’t officially confirmed it, the new engine, codenamed FA24F, is highly likely to slot into the next WRX as well. But it isn’t set to debut until the third quarter of 2021, and might not reach Australia until late in the year or early in 2022. The engine produces 194kW and 376Nm in the overseas Legacy.

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