The Subaru brand in New Zealand are preparing to say a fond farewell to the legendary Legacy, which will no longer be part of the Subaru line-up from 2021.
Steeped in history, the Subaru Legacy has been one of Subaru New Zealand’s top performers since it arrived in 1989. The model had big shoes to fill, stepping in to replace the old but much-loved Leone.
New Zealanders were quick to embrace the Legacy however, and its popularity soared, especially as a used import in the 1990s.
Subaru of New Zealand’s Managing Director Wallis Dumper recalled Legacy’s glory days, when it was the country’s best-seller.
“Whilst the Toyota Corolla was top of the new car sales overall, Legacy was New Zealand’s number one selling used vehicle thanks to the massive imports ratio.”
“For Subaru in New Zealand this was important as we knew people loved the brand and the car. Legacy developed a bulletproof reputation, so it was a natural progression to guide customers from a used Legacy to a new Subaru, as time went on,” Mr Dumper says.
Legacy’s fame ignited with Scottish driving legend Colin McRae at the wheel when he scored the Subaru team’s first-ever World Rally Championship round win here at the Rally of New Zealand in 1993.
“Whilst most Kiwis probably associate Subaru’s historic WRX model as being synonymous with winning rally championships, the reality is that Colin’s success in the Legacy then inspired Subaru to enter the WRX and become world champions three-times over in 1995, 2001, and 2003,” Mr Dumper says.
“Legacy also starred on a national level in the New Zealand Rally Championship, with legends like the late Possum Bourne and multiple championship winner Joe McAndrew scoring their victories in this Subaru model,” Mr Dumper adds.
Legacy wasn’t just a success on gravel, and it has racked up a long list of awards, including the ultimate recognition as Car of the Year in 2000 and 2004.
- 2000 – Subaru Legacy wins NZ Autocar Car of the Year and National Business Review Car of the Year.
- 2000 – Subaru Legacy wins NZ Autocar Best Medium Car.
- 2004 – Subaru Legacy 2.5i wagon wins AA Autocar New Zealand Car of The Year.
- 2004 – Subaru Legacy wins AA Autocar New Zealand Best Medium Car.
- 2005 – Subaru Legacy wins AA Autocar Best Executive Car.
- 2009 – Subaru Legacy wins AA Autocar Medium Large Category.
- 2015 – Subaru Legacy wins NZ Company Vehicle’s Large Business Car of the Year.
These awards distinguished Legacy from the medium market pack, which over the two decades following its launch, represented a significant part of New Zealand's automotive landscape.
A more recent contraction of the medium sector has seen Subaru’s burgeoning SUV range surpass Legacy’s previous successes – not least with the ultra-popular Outback, which has always shared the same platform.
In a clear indication of how market preferences have changed over the past year, 64 Legacys sold in New Zealand in 2019, compared to Outback’s sales of 1322 in 2019.
Over the generations, around 4000 New Zealand-new Legacys have been sold to Kiwi drivers.
Mr Dumper says: “No one can take away the credibility Legacy built for itself. Stable and sure-footed on the worst back country roads that New Zealand could throw at it and safe and reassuring on the wettest, slipperiest city intersection - Legacy has created its own legacy.”
“Subaru’s ‘Confidence in Motion’ catch phrase arose primarily from everyday Legacy drivers’ feedback to Japan’s engineers when they visited New Zealand in the early 2000s to learn why the brand was so readily accepted in Aotearoa.”
Although production of the Legacy 3.6RS and 2.5 models will cease from next year, customers still seeking a Subaru sedan can consider the current generation Impreza, which closely mimics the physical size of third generation Legacy sedan and offers the same Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive attributes. Even more appealing for those drivers who remember the old Legacy, the modern versions of the Impreza and the WRX both have more cabin space courtesy of technological advancements.
“We also have the WRX, as a performance sedan option that is probably the closest relative to the various turbocharged Legacy variants, such as the RS and GTB, which captured the hearts of so many enthusiastic drivers in their heyday,” Mr Dumper concludes.