After 31 years as a cornerstone of its range, Subaru Australia today announced the end of the Liberty era is approaching.
The medium-sized Liberty played a significant role in growing Subaru’s Australian presence, from launch of the first generation in 1989.
It marked a calculated shift in Subaru’s passenger car range towards sophisticated metropolitan market success, which was recognised by a long series of automotive awards.
These awards distinguished Liberty from the medium market pack, which over the following two decades represented a significant part of the Australian automotive landscape.
More recent contraction of the medium sector has seen Subaru’s burgeoning Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV) range surpass Liberty’s previous successes – not least with the Outback, which has always shared the same platform.
Over the past two years, Liberty has sold a combined total of 2,441, compared to Outback’s sales of 13,844 – a clear indication of market preferences.
Over the generations, Liberty has sold more than 153,700 in Australia.
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Subaru Australia Managing Director, Christian Dinsdale, said: “Liberty has been a pivotal part of Subaru’s success.
“While customer preferences have moved on to other vehicles in our range, Liberty has played a hugely influential role in the brand’s growth and reputation for engineering, safety, durability and retained value.
“It was our first model with global appeal and moved the brand away from its utilitarian roots to becoming a respected automotive company.
“Not only has Liberty established a reputation as a great car, it also pioneered our early rally motorsport success story.
“The first turbocharged Libertys paved the way for the fantastic successes that followed with both Subaru Rally Team Australia and the Subaru World Rally Team.”
The late Possum Bourne drove a factory-backed Liberty RS turbo in the Australian Rally Championship in the early 1990s. The production RS turbo has since established a reputation as a “cult classic” among motoring enthusiasts.
Liberty’s long list of awards include two Wheels Car of the Year titles, in 1995 and 1999.
Highly rated from its earliest days for crashworthiness, Liberty helped firmly establish Subaru’s safety credentials in Australia, with every variant getting then rare dual front airbags in 1994.
Mr Dinsdale added: “For those customers still seeking a Subaru sedan, we remind them that current generation Impreza closely mimics the physical size of third generation Liberty sedan and, of course, offers the same symmetrical All-Wheel Drive attributes.
”Equally, WRX is a performance sedan option that is probably the closest relative to the various turbocharged Liberty variants, such as the RS, GT and tuned by STI, which captured the hearts of so many enthusiastic drivers in their heyday.”
First generation Liberty launches in Australia.
10,000th Liberty sold in Australia and RS Turbo version launched. Winner: Wheels’ annual quality award and NRMA Best Medium Car award - the first of many motoring organization titles.
All Libertys get dual front airbags.
Liberty wins Wheels Car of the Year.
Liberty wagon wins Wheels Car of the Year.
Liberty B4 reintroduced turbocharged technology to the range.
New generation Liberty and Outback awarded the best ever five-star crashworthiness ratings in independent testing performed by the Australian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP). Introduction of six cylinder 3.0 litre options, including the Liberty spec.B. An outstanding locally developed special edition, the Liberty GT tuned by STI, won accolades.
Liberty 3.0R named Australia’s Best Luxury Car under $57,000, by Australia’s combined motoring organizations.
Premium versions of Model Year 2007 Liberty and Outback feature the revolutionary SI-Drive system. Subaru Intelligent Drive offers the option of three different drive experiences in one.
Liberty passed the 120,000 sales mark in Australia. Fifth generation Liberty launched and Liberty 3.6R Premium named Best Prestige Car in the combined motoring organisations Australia’s Best Cars awards.
Subaru introduces the sophisticated EyeSight driver assist system on Liberty and Outback 3.6 Premium variants.