Detroit Auto Show: 2008 Subaru Legacy & Outback

Time to catch up on all those Detroit presentations we left aside in favor of the “big shot” debuts. Starting off with the 2008 Subaru Legacy & Outback models, both receive a minor aesthetic facelift that includes an enlarged grille and revised head / tail-lamps. The Legacy also gets a pair of newly designed bumpers. But the most important news here is the introduction of the Legacy 3.0 R Limited, the first-ever 6-cylinder Legacy model for the North American market.-Continued: Click “Read More…” below to see the official press release and a high-res gallery

PRESS RELEASE: The 2008 Legacy and Outback model lines are each distinguished by revised styling for 2008, featuring new grille with chrome crossbars and a central Subaru logo that represents the company’s aeronautical heritage. The new 2008 Subaru Legacy features all-new front sheet metal with a larger grille opening, new front and rear bumper fascias, and new headlights and taillights. The new front and rear bumpers feature reduced overhangs for a sportier and more contemporary appearance.

For 2008, the Subaru Outback also debuts new front sheet metal, but features a larger and more upright grille for a bolder appearance. Combined with the new grille and front fascia, the re-designed fenders and hood deliver a more rugged look. The Outback also features unique fog lights and new wheels for the XT and six-cylinder models.

Inside, Legacy and Outback models gain a redesigned instrument panel and revised interior fabrics. A telescopic steering column and a new integrated ignition key/remote entry unit are now standard. Distinctive electroluminescent gauges, formerly featured only on the turbo Legacy and Outback models, will now be on the 6-cylinder models for 2008. On the premium models, a redesigned steering wheel offers additional controls, including the audio system, cruise control, the multi-information display and separate SI-DRIVE controls.

For 2008, the advanced Vehicle Dynamics Control (VDC) stability and traction system will be offered in more Legacy and Outback models, and the Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) is now standard on all Legacy and Outback models.

Legacy 3.0 R Limited: The Complete Grand Touring Sedan: The 2008 Legacy 3.0 R Limited Sedan takes its place above the 2.5 GT spec.B model as the model line’s performance/luxury flagship sedan. The new 6-cylinder 3.0 R Limited, with a 245-hp 6-cylinder Boxer engine, shares a similar Bilstein Sport Suspension, but with different components and tuning. Overall, the Legacy 3.0 R Limited is designed to provide the refined, sophisticated, and exciting performance typically expected from premium European All-Wheel Drive sedans.

The Legacy 2.5 GT spec.B, equipped exclusively with a 6-speed manual transmission, will continue to emphasize exciting turbo performance, with blistering acceleration (0-60 mph in less than six seconds) and maximum driver involvement. Both of these high-performance models features 18-inch alloy wheels, each model distinguished by its own wheel design.

New Paddle-Shift Transmission: In the turbo and 6-cylinder Legacy and Outback models equipped with the 5-speed automatic transmission (standard on 6-cylinder models), new steering wheel paddle shifters add a new dimension of driver involvement. The driver will be able to manually control gearshifts by using either the console shift or the paddle shifters. Adding to the driving excitement with this transmission is a new “downshift blipping control” that gives the rev-matching behavior of an expertly shifted manual transmission. This transmission also features improved shift quality and performance for 2008.

SI-DRIVE: Three Levels of Performance in One Car: The 2008 Legacy 3.0 R Limited shares its 3.0-liter DOHC 6-cylinder Boxer engine with the Outback 3.0 R L.L.Bean Edition. This smooth powerplant produces 245 horsepower at 6,600 rpm and 215 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,200 rpm. The Active Valve Control System (AVCS) variable valve timing system, in concert with Active Valve Lift System (AVLS) technology, helps optimize power at all engine speeds.

In the 2008 Legacy 3.0 R Limited and 6-cylinder Outback models, the driver will enjoy exercising more control over this turbine-smooth engine with the SI-DRIVE system. SI-DRIVE, which was first introduced for the 2007 model-year Legacy and Outback turbo models, allows the driver to maximize engine performance, control and efficiency by choosing from among three selectable modes – “Intelligent,” “Sport” and “Sport Sharp.” The driver selects the performance mode by using a rotary dial on the center console or, newly added for 2008, a button on the steering wheel.

SI-DRIVE enables three distinctively different modes of vehicle performance characteristics by regulating the engine control unit (ECU) – as well as the transmission control unit in the automatic transmission models – and by fine-tuning the electronically controlled throttle. With “Intelligent” mode selected, the system reduces engine torque and maximum power and switches to a more relaxed throttle response curve and is an excellent choice for smoother response while commuting in traffic congestion, for example, where it can also help boost fuel efficiency by up to 10 percent. In addition, “Intelligent” mode’s more relaxed responses and lower torque output make it an ideal complement to the low-traction-surface driving capability provided by the Subaru Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive System.

The SI-DRIVE system’s “Sport” mode yields quick throttle responses and powerful, linear acceleration. In “Sport Sharp” mode, the SI-DRIVE system modifies the engine’s electronic throttle mapping to deliver quickest throttle response and more power earlier. Delivering maximum driving enjoyment, “Sport Sharp” mode is ideal for tackling twisty roads and for confidently merging or overtaking other vehicles on the highway.

With the 5-speed automatic transmission (standard on 6-cyl. models), SI-DRIVE affects the transmission’s shift patterns with the performance mode selected and holds each gear longer, through the rpm range and downshift quicker under hard acceleration, making it an ideal performance partner for the new paddle-shift automatic transmission.

The SI-DRIVE system includes instrument panel displays that allow the driver to monitor performance. The multi-information display located in the tachometer face – in addition to providing trip computer functions – denotes the selected SI-DRIVE mode and provides an active torque curve display. When “Intelligent” mode is selected, an “ECO” gauge encourages efficient driving habits, and in vehicles with a manual transmission, a shift-up indicator blinks to signal the optimal shift point for maximum fuel efficiency.Bilstein Sport Suspension

The Bilstein Sport Suspension equips the Legacy 3.0 R Limited with performance-tuned shock absorbers for improved cornering. Though similar to the Bilstein Sport Suspension used on the Legacy 2.5 GT spec.B, the system on the 3.0 R Limited differs in components and tuning and is configured for a ride-and-handling balance unique to this model. On the 2008 Legacy 3.0 R Limited, standard 18-inch alloy wheels are fitted with 215/45 R18 Bridgestone Potenza RE92 all-season tires (Bridgestone Potenza RE050A summer performance tires in the same size on the 2.5 GT spec.B model). A 4-wheel disc Anti-lock Brake System (ABS) with Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD) is standard on all Legacy models. The 3.0 R Limited features the same 4-wheel vented disc brakes as the 2.5 GT Limited and 2.5 GT spec.B models.

Stealthy Design, Luxurious Interior: The Legacy 3.0 R Limited exterior is distinguished by subtle aerodynamic side ground-effects moldings with chrome trim. This model also features an exclusive 7-spoke, 18-inch alloy wheel design. This new, sophisticated performance model projects an even “stealthier” appearance than its 2.5 GT spec.B sibling, without that model’s tell-tale functional hood scoop that is featured on all turbocharged Subaru models.

The Legacy 3.0 R Limited and 2.5 GT spec.B models also differ in interior design. The 3.0 R Limited emphasizes a more subtle, luxurious cabin with standard perforated leather seats. The Subaru Navigation System will also be standard on the 3.0 R Limited. Standard luxury features in the 3.0 R Limited include performance-design power-adjustable front seats with 2-position memory system for the driver, dual-zone automatic climate control, power glass moonroof, 4-stage heated front seats, and heated exterior mirrors. The standard audio system includes an in-dash 6-disc CD changer and Satellite Radio capability.

Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive: Subaru All-Wheel Drive systems are organized under the “Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive” branding umbrella. Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive is a total system that integrates a lightweight horizontally opposed (Boxer) engine and a full-time power distribution system.

Subaru will again offer three different versions of Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive in the 2008 Legacy and Outback models, each tailored to the type of transmission. The 2008 6-cylinder models (and the turbo Legacy and Outback models equipped with the 5-speed automatic transmission) use a version of the system called Variable Torque Distribution (VTD). A planetary gear-type center differential works with an electronically controlled continuously variable hydraulic transfer clutch to manage power distribution. The VTD system normally directs more power to the rear wheels (45:55) to enhance handling agility, and it continuously adjusts the power distribution in response to driving and road conditions.

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