From the April 2006 issue of Car and Driver.

The Subaru Legacy, particularly the 2.5GT, is a capable sedan in many ways-250 horsepower, a balanced chassis, a sharp-looking interior and exterior, and the availability of a five-speed manual-but its reflexes have needed sharpening. Although it rides well, by sports-sedan standards the suspension isn’t firm enough. That equates to noticeable roll while cornering and excessive squat under acceleration. The limited-edition Legacy spec.B (just 500 will be made) addresses these dynamic faults with a revised suspension. However, it sticks with the GT’s 250-hp, 2.5-liter turbo engine and five-speed manual.

Subaru swapped the front-strut setup in favor of the WRX STI’s inverted struts, stiffened the shocks and springs all around, and added handsome 18-inch wheels with wider Bridgestone Potenza RE050A summer tires (replacing the base 2.5GT’s 17-inchers that use all-season rubber).

The latest in a long line of sleeper Subarus, the spec.B looks essentially the same as lesser models. Slight exterior differences include a model-specific (and mandatory) dark silver color and the 18-inch wheels-there’s not even a spec.B badge anywhere on the body. The obvious evidence is inside, a label affixed below the shifter. Other interior differences include tasteful soft red-leather seats and door accents. A touch-screen navigation system comes standard on the spec.B, and in fact, this model is the only manual Legacy available with nav. (Until now, customer demand dictated that nav be offered only on automatic Legacy GTs.) Another feature exclusive to the spec.B is steering-wheel-mounted radio controls.

For all these goodies, you will be charged an 18-percent premium over a 2.5GT manual, which swells the spec.B’s price to $34,620. To break this down, the nav system is a $2000 option in other models, which means the listed hardware amounts to a $3200 premium on the spec.B.

2006 subaru legacy 25 gt specb interior

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JEFFREY G. RUSSELL

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Car and Driver

In support of that, the chassis performance numbers improved considerably. Compared with the base 2.5GT, the spec.B’s skidpad grip is up 0.06 g to 0.87, and its stopping distance from 70 mph is 177 feet, better by 19. Not surprisingly, straight-line results from the last Legacy GT we tested were within a few 10ths of the spec.B: 0 to 60 in 5.3 seconds and the quarter-mile in 14.0 seconds.

So why, after flogging car No. 4 of 500, aren’t we lusting after it as we do a BMW 3-series? We appreciate the overachieving acceleration, but the problem is that for nearly 35 large we expect BMW-ness-that sum buys a 325i with a few grand left for options.

The spec.B suspension better controls body motions, but it didn’t take the Legacy as far as we expected. A planted right foot still elicits a noticeable rise from the hood. Try a four-wheel drift, and the spec.B leans over more than a sports sedan should. Other shortcomings remain: a brake pedal with too much squish, a shifter with slightly too much resistance to gearchanges, and a sometimes rough-idling engine.

Although we’ve made some of these same complaints about other Subarus, such as the WRX, they’re forgivable when the cost is $10,000 less. But at this price, the spec.B is inhaling the rarefied air of the Audi A4, BMW 3-series, Lexus IS, and Mercedes C-class.

If you’re planning to buy this special Subie, as with any car, waiting until you can find a slightly used example might be a wise financial move. Then again, you may not have a choice. Subaru sold 160 copies in the first couple months the spec.B was on sale, so there may not be many of the 500 left by the time you read this.

Specifications

SPECIFICATIONS

2006 Subaru Legacy 2.5GT spec.B

VEHICLE TYPE
 front-engine, 4-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door sedan

PRICE AS TESTED
$34,620 (base price: $34,620)

ENGINE TYPE:
turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 16-valve flat-4, aluminum block and heads, port fuel injection
Displacement
150 in3, 2457 cm3
Power (SAE net)
250 bhp @ 6000 rpm
Torque (SAE net)
250 lb-ft @ 3600 rpm

TRANSMISSION
5-speed manual

DIMENSIONS
Wheelbase: 105.1 in
Length: 186.2 in
Width: 68.1 in
Height: 56.5 in
Curb weight: 3391 lb

C/D TEST RESULTS
Zero to 60 mph: 5.3 sec
Zero to 100 mph: 14.6 sec
Zero to 130 mph: 30.1 sec
Street start, 5-60 mph: 6.8 sec
Standing ¼-mile: 14.0 sec @ 98 mph
Top speed (governor limited): 137 mph
Braking, 70-0 mph: 177 ft
Roadholding, 300-ft-dia skidpad: 0.87 g

FUEL ECONOMY
EPA fuel economy, city driving: 20 mpg

c/d testing explained

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