Subaru Legacy GT (BG5 BD5) Review


 Subaru Legacy Review
2.0 H4 quadcam 16 Valve
2.0 H4 quadcam 16 Valve
5sp / Auto
5sp / Auto
Twin turbo
Twin turbo
5-door hatch
The Legacy GT was Subaru’s high powered midsize vehicle from the early nineties. It came in both sedan and wagon variations. This was the top selling vehicle for Subaru for many years and still commands high sales numbers worldwide. The Legacy is known for its utility and performance during a time when wagons were not considered high performance vehicles.
Driving the Legacy feels very neutral and sure footed. This is because of the fantastic symmetrical AWD system which Subaru still uses today, a pleasure when driving in poor weather or snow. The second generation received a new platform which improved driving dynamics and suspension geometry to make it feel more modern. The vehicle feels like a luxury car inside with optional leather and features like ABS and LSD. Great acceleration and high speed characterize a drive in one of these hot cars.
The Legacy is like an older brother to the Impreza and as such is bigger and heavier. For being heavier you get more luggage and passenger room, and to move the weight you get twice as many turbos. It is not as fast as the Impreza but it is 150kg heavier. Where the Impreza is harder and more extreme, this is more comfortable and grown up.
The Engine is where this vehicle really shines. Forget about the Legacy from Left hand drive markets. They got the EJ25 165 hp turbo engine in the highest trim. Here we have the EJ20H engine with 250ps and twin turbos. People who drive this car agree that it is a fast wagon. The Turbos are sequential so you get one for low engine speed, and one for high engine speed. Although this engine has similar power numbers to the EJ20G engine in the Impreza, it feels different with a more smooth torque curve. Higher spec models increased the power of the engine and in 1997 it got an extra 10 ps.
Subarus in general are reliable vehicles. This one has high performance bits but it is generally accepted that with good servicing the vehicle has better than average reliability. Because of the twin turbo setup it is common for the first turbo to wear before the second one but premature wear is not common. Most of the pieces of this vehicle are direct crossovers to the USDM version and parts are inexpensive and highly available.
The second gen Legacy is somewhat overshadowed by the quicker sportier Impreza so many people don’t tune these vehicles. That isn’t to say that it doesn’t get done but it is rare. You may find that people are happy lowering these cars on 17” rims and running them like that. People familiar to turbo tuning can get power out of this vehicle and the highly modded Impreza has some cross over parts that can be used. The standard Intake and exhaust pieces are easy to find and this vehicle sounds extremely mean with a large bore exhaust.
The Legacy is similar to the 4WD Stagea and the awesome Volvo 850R models. Subarus held their ground well compared to the Stagea 250RS which is sometimes considered a wagon version of the Skyline. High power wagons started appearing more and more and sold like crazy for many years after.
Although the standard GT models were unbelievable, you could get more out of the little wagon or Sedan. There was the GT-B model with sport suspension from Bilstien and an extra 8ps on board. Then there was the amazing Sedan RS version with a 280ps EJ20R engine and manual transmission. These special models were common and are attainable fairly easily.
This vehicle priced very well for what you get. Auction prices are lower than the Impreza and because there were so many of them sold, they are fairly easy to come by. Because most were Auto, the 5sp is harder to find but costs close to the same amount. This vehicle can be a surprising sleeper and a great deal for the money.