The 2007 Legacy spec.B includes standard interior tech options to match its sophisticated chassis, making it a more well-rounded contender than Subaru's cheaper 2.5 GT Limited. The spec.B makes a solid case for the four-cylinder performance sedan, even though it's priced comparably to its mostly six-cylinder competition.
The interior of the Legacy spec.B is where the main improvements over the 2006 Legacy are found. As we noted in our review of that car, navigation was an available option but required the SportShift automatic transmission, so we contented ourselves with the five-speed and called it even. Luckily, no such compromise is required in the spec.B, and in fact, an extra gear is thrown into the manual transmission, to boot.
The 2.5-liter flat-four does want a fair bit of revving, only generating its maximum 243 horsepower at 6,000 RPM. Its torque peak comes on a bit sooner, with all 241 foot-pounds available from 3,600 RPM, but the spec.B and its six-speed manual encourage enthusiastic driving, and this takes it toll at the gas pump.
We enjoyed using the Aux jack to play tunes from our MP3-playing cell phone--the jack is beneath the lidded center console, but a notch in the bin's rim allows the cord to pass through and the phone to be available while in use.
Setup of the many split-screen options is intuitive, as is control of the other systems accessed through the nav screen: the trip computer; maintenance monitors and various mileage; and calendar and calculator functions.
The navigation system remains one of our favorites due to its relatively stripped-down touch-screen interface and its ability to detour and recalculate routes rapidly. Destination entry is possible via text input from an onscreen keyboard, by using a points-of-interest database, or by simply scrolling and pointing on the map.
The stereo's power is modest at 100 watts and six speakers, but the in-dash six-CD changer played burned MP3 and WMA discs with no trouble. For both XM satellite radio and CDs that include this information, artist, album, and song title are limited to a single-line display on the stereo's face. Long entries are cut off, and toggling through the categories is too distracting.
New for 2007 is Subaru Intelligent Drive (SI-Drive), a three-stage driver-controlled engine-management feature. In the most sedate Intelligent mode, power and torque peaks are lowered and throttle response is lazier, good for use in traffic or on less grippy surfaces. In Sport mode, performance is similar to the 2006 spec.B (according to Subaru). Finally, Sport Sharp mode quickens the electronic throttle mapping for immediate response and the best possible performance.