By: IOL Motoring Staff

Chicago, Illinois - Subaru's all-new 2015 Legacy, making its world debut at the Chicago Auto Show this week, boasts a raft of new features and some seriously upmarket trim in a conservatively styled but roomy sedan body.

Range-topping variants come with the highest level of luxury yet in a Subaru, including perforated leather upholstery, two-position memory for the 10-way powered driver's seat, a four-way powered front passenger seat, three-mode heated front seats, dual-mode heated rear seats, rear seat air-conditioning vents and a 576-watt surround sound audio system with 12 Harman/Kardon speakers.

No decision has yet been made as to whether the new Legacy t will be released in South Africa; Subaru SA marketing maven Ashley Lazarus says the company is “reviewing local market introduction feasibility for launch no sooner than early 2015”.

In other words, don't hold your breath.

NEW DESIGN LANGUAGE

While the 2015 Legacy has a footprint similar to the previous model, its styling echoes the Legacy Concept seen at last year's Los Angeles Auto Show, with a sleeker “nosecone” front section that combines grille and bumper into one smooth piece an d an aluminium bonnet to reduce weight over the front wheels for enhanced steering response.

The windshield is more raked, pulled forward by 50mm at the base, and a higher hip point helps improve visibility.

NEW MOD CONS

The flagship Legacy 3.6R Limited comes with high-intensity discharge headlights, while distinctive U-shaped LED tail lights are standard across the range, as is a rear-view camera, now placed closer to the centre of the car for more natural images.

A new rear radar system - standard on Limited and optional on Premium versions - has three functions: blind spot detection detects vehicles behind the C pillars and in other blind spots, lane-change assist detects approaching vehicles when changing lanes, and rear cross traffic alert detects approaching vehicles while reversing out of a parking space or driveway.Even the foglights now swivel with the steering.

Subaru's optional EyeSight driver-aids package uses stereo camera technology to combine active cruise control with pre-collision braking and lane departure warning function.

FOUR OR SIX-CYLINDER BOXER ENGINES

The Legacy 2.5i has a double-overhead-cam FB-series 2.5-litre flat four that's been tweaked for lighter weight, improved efficiency and quieter operation. Power is up slightly to 131kW, while peak torque remains at 236Nm but over a wider rev range.

The range topping 3.6-litre flat six engine is now rated at 191kW and 335Nm.

All 2015 Legacy models come standard with a Lineartronic continuously variable transmission and hill hold, as well as new quick-ratio electric power-assisted steering, revised spring and damper geometry and timing, ventilated disc brakes all round and 17” alloys (18” on Limited models).

Active torque vectoring, a development of the dynamic stability and traction control system used on the WRX and WRX STI models, applies brake pressure to the inside front wheel to counteract understeer.

ROOMIER ACCOMODATION

Despite having almost the same exterior footprint as the previous Legacy, the 2015 model has more shoulder, hip, elbow and leg room - 967mm of it for rear-seat passengers. Even the boot has been enlarged from 416 to 425 litres, a significant achievement considering that the rear end of the car also has to accommodate the multilink rear suspension, a rear differential and rear half-shafts.

The sporty instrument panel is highlighted by two binocular-style gauge pods with centre liquid-crystal information display - 90mm on cars without the EyeSight driver-assist system and 125mm on EyeSight cars. Premium and Limited-trim derivatives have electro-luminescent gauges with elegant blue ring-lighting.

The interior design highlights horizontal themes to make the most of the increased volume, with new soft-touch materials, thicker cushioning for armrests and the centre console and new trim styles for a more premium feel.

NEW INFOTAINMENT

A new 160mm multifunction touchscreen accesses the AM/FM radio with single-disc in-dash CD player, the rear view camera, Bluetooth hands-free phone connectivity and audio streaming, iPod control capability and USB port and an aux input jack, all controlled by swipe and scrolling gestures, like tablets and smartphones,

The navigation system - optional with Premium and Limited trim levels, also has an interactive voice-command system that accepts natural language and phrases, and operates the dual-zone automatic aircon.