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Journeys : Dec Jan 2010
Best Prestige Car $50,000 to $80,000 Subaru Liberty, $51,990 Driveline: 3.6-litre 6-cyl, 5-speed auto Fuel economy: 10.3L/100km, petrol Safety features: DFSA, CA, KA, ABS, TCS, ESC ANCAP: GVG: The discerning buyer who is prepared to spend between $50,000 and $80,000 for the quality, precision and comfort of a prestige car will find Subar u Liberty 3.6R Premium has plenty to offer and is great value for money. This all-new six-cylinder Liberty is a real surprise packet. At just over $50,000, it comes standard with plenty of desirable features that would be substantially more as options in most of the higher-profile European models in this class. This includes the likes of leather trim, satnav with DVD, reversing camera, Bluetooth compatibility, xenon HID headlights, front fog lights, premium sound system and electric sunroof. Safety is a strong point, with seven airbags, electronic stability control and a five-star ANCAP safety rating, backed up by Subaru's symmetrical all-wheel drive system that helps provide secure roadholding in all weather conditions. And to protect your investment against thieves, Liberty also has an excellent security score. Liberty's new bigger bolder body means it quite a large mid-size car and one of the roomiest in the class. Supportive leather-clad seats and a well- laid-out cabin make it comfortably inviting and easy to drive, while the build quality and finish is right up with the high standards expected in this class. On the road, the new model is much quieter than its predecessor. Mechanically, the boxer engine is now 3.6 litres capacity (previously it was 3.0), and in combination with a responsive five-speed automatic transmission delivers strong, smooth-flowing perfor mance. Subar u's Intelligent Drive system (SI-Drive), standard on the 3.6R, allows drivers to fine-tune the engine and transmission response via a switch on the centre console for either an economy focus, more lively response or rapid sporty driving. The steering-wheel-mounted paddle-shift gear change also works well and adds another dimension of driver involvement if desired. Although the fuel consumption is respectable for a petrol engine, it is overshadowed a little by the number of fuel-efficient diesel models now available in this class and which dominate the minor placings. The suspension has been well-tuned for Australian road conditions, providing a comfortable, controlled ride, precise steering and surefooted handling. Running and repair costs are a little higher than the class average due in part to more frequent service intervals, which for long-term durability is not necessarily a bad thing on any car. Subaru recommends ser vicing every 12,500km or six months. The Subaru key ring may not have quite as much badge status as some European marques when the dinner-party conversation turns to prestige cars, but in terms of driving ability, comfort, build quality and value for money, the Liberty 3.6R Premium model is a worthy winner. 2nd -- Audi A4 TDI 3rd -- Mercedes C220 CDi Classi Best Luxury Car Audi A6 TFSI quattro, $112,500 Driveline: 3.0-litre, supercharged V6, 6-speed DSG Fuel economy: 9.5L/100km, PULP Safety features: DFSA, CA, ABS, TC, ESC ANCAP: GVG: It takes something special for a newcomer to upstage three-time consecutive champion Lexus GS 450h, but the new Audi A6 3.0 TFSI quattro has done just that. Powered by a supercharged V6 engine pumping out 213 kW (between 4850-6800rpm) and 420 Nm of torque (from 2500-4850rpm), the A6 outpointed the Lex us in a host of areas, including pricing, r unning and repair costs, security, comfort, space, practicality, ergonomics, performance, handling and braking. It matched the lu x ury hybrid for standard features, safety, build and finish quality, and smoothness and quietness, putting up a compelling argument to judges as to why it should be declared the winner. The A6's standard features list includes cruise control, power steering, alloy wheels, electric park brake, anti-lock brakes, brake assist, electronic brakeforce distribution, traction control, electronic stability control, six airbags, remote window-dow n function, leather seats, rain-sensing wipers, auto dip/dim mirror, powered driver's seat, auto xenon headlights, daytime running lights, navigation system, premium audio system and park distance control. That said, there are some things this luxury car doesn't have as standard, such as driver's knee airbag, active cruise control, driver's seat memory, front parking sensors and reversing camera and metallic paint, but criticism of their omission should be tempered by the fact that the A6 is some $20,000 cheaper than the GS 450h and nearly $17,000 less than the highly-rated Mercedes-Benz E-Class. Number-crunching is one thing. Driving experience is another and here the A6 delivers. Tickle the throttle and, the supercharged V6 responds with an enthusiastic surge and, unlike some turbocharged units, no hint of lag. The powerplant has an able bedfellow in the six- speed DSG transmission, surely one of the smoothest and slickest of any production car. Putting such accomplished drivability to the ground in all conditions is Audi's lauded quattro all-wheel-drive system. Add this to its long safety inventory and little wonder the A6 gets a maximum- star safety rating. The A6 falls down a little in quality of ride, which lacks consistency of smoothness over the patchwork quilt that is the fabric of Australian roads. Here, the A6 lost a little ground to high class rivals, the E-Class, GS 450h and Jaguar XF. Audi interiors are something of a benchmark and the A6 maintains the standard, excelling in seating comfort and spaciousness, intelligent but understandable dash and switchgear, and general ambience. Size does count when it comes to boot space but with a capacity of 546 litres, the A6 has one of the biggest in class, despite fitting in a full-sized alloy spare. If a diesel rather than petrol engine floats your boat, there's the 3.0-litre TDI A6 (for $4000 less) that finished just six points overall behind its sibling. In summary, the A6 is a powerful, comfortable, quality four-door saloon that would tick most of the boxes for most of the people most of the time. 2nd -- Jaguar XF 3.0D 3rd -- Lexus GS 450H December 09 / January 10 40
October November 2009
Feb March 2010