Eye on safety in new Subarus

By Richard Bosselman on Sat, 20 Oct 2012 | Subaru | Latest News
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The Subaru Legacy X is a sedan with off-road clearance. Photo: Supplied

Ever had one of those driving moments when you haven't been able to "see" for looking? Apparently it's not that uncommon. And, yes, accidents can happen as a result.

Step forward an award-winning accident avoidance system - EyeSight - now fitted to high-end Legacy/Outback models, including a new edition, the Legacy X, an all-wheel-drive 3.6-litre sedan with Outback ride height and ability.

EyeSight is not a fix-all for inattentive driving, but it does provide an intriguing capability, especially in the multi-lane conditions for which it has been primarily designed.

Most proactive tech is radar-based. Subaru says the flaw there is that it simply detects objects. With EyeSight, two cameras are sited side by side to give much the same view that our eyes deliver. Using the information provided by these, the car's electronic "brain" manages adaptive cruise control, lead vehicle alert, lane departure warning, lane swaying, pre-collision warning and pre-collision throttle management and braking systems.

It is likely to sound an alert if the driver approaches an object too fast, strays outside the lane or begins weaving, or seems set to go hard into an object as the result of an accidental throttle application.

The emergency stop is the primary function.

As I discovered, the autonomy is failsafe at up to 30kmh. From there, it will still help slow the car, but you need to be ready to jump on the brakes as well.

I also found it to be handy in steady motorway and stop-go driving. I simply had to engage the adaptive cruise control and Subaru's system did the rest, automatically maintaining pace with the car ahead.

Flaws? Like our own eyesight, Subaru's struggles to see in heavy rain and fog; sunstrike is also a challenge. You'll deactivate the lane departure function on secondary roads because every time you near the centre line, as is bound to happen when cornering, it squeals.

The entire Legacy range has also sharpened up for 2013. The top cars take sat nav and the mainstream 2.5-litre is a quad-cam making 4kW and 6Nm more than the old single overhead cam. There's a revised grille too.

The Legacy X will be a select choice, but a run around grassy hills made slick by rain showers proved its muck mettle.

The car drives through a five-speed auto and the familiar 3.6-litre flat-six engine, in 191kW/350Nm tune.

The 210mm ground clearance (more than some "soft-roaders") and practical ability are the key elements, but the flat six has a lazy feel until really revved, which doesn't really suit the car's style.