Page 1 of 4 123 ... LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 37

Thread: Practical daily: Subaru Legacy BP H6, BMW E91 330i, ?

  1. #1
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    Cambridge, UK
    Posts
    530

    Practical daily: Subaru Legacy BP H6, BMW E91 330i, ?

    After heaving my wife's suitcase into the slot between the strut brace and the bulkhead in the 350Z, I've started thinking about a change. I've backed out of selling the RX-7 - turns out an FD is better when it's not your only car, who knew? - but then keeping two impractical sports cars seems less than ideal.

    So I am intending to sell the Z, and replace it with a car of similar weight and power but with a big load bay. Ideally I'll get an estate and then I can put bicycles in easy-peasy, although a hatchback would probably suffice.

    I still want decent power, since it would be annoying to be caught short mid-overtake because I'd left the RX-7 at home. I also would like decent handling, although it doesn't need to be a sports car in terms of involvement, just reasonably capable. Should be reasonably comfortable for long trips. I want reasonable reliability, because I've already got one unreliable car.

    I'm not bothered about image; I guess I lean towards Japanese cars but doesn't have to be. Fuel economy would be nice but not a high priority as I don't do many miles anyway. Auto or manual is fine in principle.

    I don't want a diesel because you have to pay an extra tax to drive into greater London from next year. I'm leaning away from turbos because they tend to need more maintenance.


    Current top contender is the Subaru Legacy 3.0 R, fourth gen (BP) 2004-2006


    http://www.uklegacy.com/forums/index...-manual-wagon/

    Pros: spacious, chain-driven nat-asp engine meant to be fairly strong, not too heavy (<1500kg?), 4WD, cheap (2-4k)
    Cons: Post March 2006 incur higher annual road tax due to thirst. Most are autos and the pre-06 auto is meant to be not-great. Fairly rare, most have high mileages. Rust is a concern especially as often bought for rural / winter duties.

    Second contender is BMW 330i Touring E91 2005-2012ish

    https://www.autotrader.co.uk/car-det...02009224076399

    Pros: bit more efficient than the Subaru, & thus avoids higher rate tax, possibly more interesting handling (?), likely auto box is good, 'luxury' interior
    Cons: Uncertainty over German maintenance costs especially cars from this period. Although 3-series are common, 330i petrol estates are vanishingly rare and seem to be auto only (pictured car is one of two I can see for sale, both autos).

    Other options could include a Stagea, which would be even rarer and might need importing from Japan, which I probably can't be arsed with. But the closest thing to a 350Z estate. Or other estate options?

    I don't really want an SUV. Minivans don't tend to come with the acceleration I want, not sure that the M-B R63 is really sensible.

    Then you get onto upper size hot hatches, maybe Ford Focus ST or something. Not as big but I managed to fit bikes into my Pug 306 back in the day, so should work. Downside is being FF.
    Last edited by samoht; October 9th, 2020 at 12:38 AM.

  2. #2
    Junior Potato
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Posts
    6,224
    I once drove a Kia Carnival V6 people mover. Put the foot down and it went like a shower of shit.

    And modern sporty FWDs are faster and grippier than older 2WD sportscars.

    You should get a Lexus IS200 wagon.

  3. #3
    Spiny beast TheBenior's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    Chicago
    Posts
    1,393
    I have a buddy who had a 2006(?) E90 325i, which in the US had the lower output 3.0L. Other than his clutch slave cylinder failing and taking the clutch with it (while still under warranty, thankfully), it was a pretty uneventful ownership experience.

    Oil consumption that's excessive by typical Honda or Toyota standards isn't unusual in Subaru H6s here, but on the plus side, they seem less prone to head gasket leaks than the H4s.

    The Focus ST hatchback is not particularly spacious inside, even compared to other cars in the class like a Mazda3 or GTI. In the US market, Ford was rather misleading about cargo volume (not only likely measuring to the roof, but also somehow having the same figure as lower trim Focus hatchbacks that didn't have full size spares).

  4. #4
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    Cambridge, UK
    Posts
    530
    Quote Originally Posted by Rare White Ape View Post
    You should get a Lexus IS200 wagon.
    IS200 is great apart from the engine, 153hp. However an IS300 wagon is a really good option. Again super rare but they do exist.

    https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/2003-Lexu...cAAOSww-lfX5V9

  5. #5
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Posts
    4,792
    As the only person here whose family has owned the sedan, higher or lower powered versions of both cars you are looking at, I may be able to assist.

  6. #6
    Severed Member JoeW's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    Tampa, Fl
    Posts
    1,092
    I would stay away from the BMW just because if it does break...it will be more expensive.

    I would stick with Subaru/Toyota and maybe VW products. I really don't know what models you guys get in the UK so I can't make any specific suggestions.

  7. #7
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    Cambridge, UK
    Posts
    530
    Quote Originally Posted by Yw-slayer View Post
    As the only person here whose family has owned the sedan, higher or lower powered versions of both cars you are looking at, I may be able to assist.
    How do you think they compare? Any big gotchas on the reliability front? Anything else I should consider?

    All advice welcome

  8. #8
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Posts
    4,792
    I'll post a bit later, as it was late over here and I was trying to gather my thoughts.

  9. #9
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Posts
    4,792
    OK, what we had/have is as follows:

    Have: 2005(ish) Legacy GT sedan (BL), 2.0L Turbo, both with and without STI springs and STI sway bars. Always stock rims. Tyres were originally Potenza RE050 (I think) and last 2 sets were Michelin Pilot Sport 4, around the same time the same got put on the BMW

    Had: 2008(ish) BMW 320i E90 sedan. Tyres were originally whatever, I think the stock run-flats on the stock rims. Eventually we got a good deal from BMW as some dude traded in his M Sport-type 18" (I think) rims and tyres so we bought them and they came with got Pirelli P-Zeroes. When those ran low on tread we swapped to Michelin Pilot Sport 4 until we sold this car. So there was a period when they overlapped.

  10. #10
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Posts
    4,792
    Sorry, been really busy. I'll try and give you the short version. I did write the bit above as it may give you some context.

    Power:
    I've never driven the H6 Legacy (or any H6 NA Subaru for that matter), but assuming it's got slightly less torque but slightly more weight than the 2.0T in the GT and that the power-to-weight ratio is around the same, I'd say that it's likely to be edged out by the 330i. This is however based solely on the fact that I really liked the E46 330i's engine the one time I drove my friends' old convertible.

    Estate/Load area:
    I've sadly never had either in estate form. The boot in both sedans was surprisingly spacious, for what it's worth.

    Grip/Handling:
    The BMW on the non-M rims was forgettable, although admittedly that was nearly 10 years ago so I may have just forgotten. On the M rims the P-Zeros gave insane amounts of grip (almost certainly overtyred given that it was a 320) but the steering was very heavy and it felt like it crashed over quite a lot of the rougher stuff. The Pilot Sport 4 was a better match for the car overall in almost every way - more comfortable, better telegraphing rather than just GRIPGRIPGRIP but still maintained the feel of the chassis clearly being RWD. The steering is reasonably communicative but not incredible. It's more of a car I found was best enjoyed when driving via the seat i.e. feeling the chassis move/rotate in line with the grip. I am sure that a 330 on reasonably sized rims and with the Pilot Sport 4 or even a higher-performance tyre would be a great handling car.

    The Legacy chassis is, I understand, not actually that new a platform. Perhaps befitting its rallying roots, the car does sway/roll more than the E90, even with the STI springs (which made it crashier) and sway bars. With those two additions it does become more direct and the rear noticeably more tail-happy. However you are under no illusion that it is a RWD car. It is a noticeably more front-heavy car (I'd assume the H6 even more so) which relies a fair amount on the 4WD to push it out of corners. It's been a while since they were on the car, but when I was on the Potenzas I could get away with quite a lot thanks to the 4WD. In contrast, the Michelins are probably more balanced tyres overall but I sort of do miss the more extreme grip and slightly heavier steering that the Potenzas gave me, which in a way compensated for the car's nose-heaviness. I must say that the hydraulic steering of the BL, although possibly a bit light compared to other cars, is actually still my favourite (or at least a benchmark) as a daily driver/family sedan out of all the cars I have ever driven in terms of weight, directness, immediacy, and balancing (i.e. knowing how much to turn to go exactly where). Obviously I'm biased as we have had this car for 15 years so I know it inside-out, and I use those qualifications since I don't think it's fair to compare it to the steering on the 60's Lotus Elan or the 2016 California T that I've driven. I do think it is interesting that in some ways I really appreciate how proportionate/balanced it is, even when I get out of my BRZ and into this car.

    While we are on this topic I might as well talk about the gearbox. Here, the 6-speed auto in the E90 was overall superior to the 5-speed auto in our (2004ish hence first-gen) BL in terms of ratios (well duh), but more noticeably shift speed. I agree with those who say that the pre-06 auto (assuming that their non-SI-Drive model is the same auto as mine) is "not great". Frankly, it's probably the weakest part of the car. The second-gen BL/BP auto may be better but I don't know. It may also be unfair to compare a 6-speed auto in a lower/under-powered car to a 5-speeder in an over-powered car? Regardless, this does affect handling, noticeably in favour of the 330.

    In this category I would, I am quite certain, choose the 330 over the H6 BP.

    Comfort for long trips:
    Given that I can get from one end of HK to the other in around an hour or so, it's hard to say. But I would say that the BMW on the non-M rims was alright but not great. On the M rims and with the P-Zeroes the ride was I think better but with much more grip. The BL was similar with Potenzas and then the Pilot Sport 4. I think on both with the Pilot Sport 4, the BMW was quieter on the highway and overall, and felt slightly less "nervous" at higher speeds. Bump handling similar in both, perhaps slightly better in the BMW but that may have been because the BL had STI kit and/or I used to drive it like a nutter whereas the 320, less so.

    I don't think it's particularly relevant for me to talk about sound quality since my BL has a McIntosh (or rather rebaged Clarion) setup, which I changed the tweeters and sub of a few years ago as the cones cracked due to age (OK to be fair the sub cone got wasted since I was blasting Deadmau5 too loud one day. Seriously ). Suffice to say that the audio in the BMW was fine, and seemed better tuned for voice/vocals, while the BL's setup was clearly more instrument-focused and aggressive, hence great for more aggressive genres such as Eurobeat/metal/etc.

    Might as well talk about interior/luxury. To me the BL's interior actually still looks really, really good and modern and high-quality. Basically like a more understated yet slightly more fashionable (i.e. some Japanese flair) mid-2000s VAG car. You will find that the door grip fades and in some of the older ones the dashboard would crack after prolonged sun exposure. For the former I bought some leather wraps off ebay and they are fine, for the latter, a few years ago we bought a new dashboard from Subaru for GBP1,300 or thereabouts. The non-GT models don't have as nice an interior overall but it's still pretty decent. I didn't actually find the BMW's interior much nicer (if at all) and I think the graphics on the stereo and the climate control system hasn't aged as well as that on the BL's, even though it may have seemed more avant garde at the time. However, there was definitely nothing wrong with it. One thing to note however is that I notice the button graphics (e.g. START, climate control) in our BMWs (esp. our 523) also scratch much more easily, I think due to my mother's nails. Whereas we have had no such issues in the BL.

    In terms of seating space I think they are about the same. It may perhaps be slightly more comfortable at the back in the 3-series for adults but it's hard to tell since I hardly ever sat/sit in the back.

    Overall I would give the 330 a slight edge over an H6 Legacy, unless the latter comes with a great stereo which allows you to listen to exciting music at high volumes and you place a major premium on that.

    Reliability:
    This is hard to say since, as I have said, HK is a very small place so the Legacy hasn't even done 40,000km even though it's a 15 year old car. I think the BMW did around 20,000km in 10 years? Having said that, the terrain is tough on our cars because I live on HK island (which is quite hilly) and there aren't many highway runs. We also maintained our cars religiously and send them in 2x/year to Subaru and 1x/yr to BMW for oil changes and services (both being the recommended intervals here as we never did enough km per year or half-year to hit the "change by Xkm" limit).

    Generally speaking, it's also easier and cheaper for me to get Japanese parts because I live closer to there than Europe. And while BMW is a luxury brand your proximity to Germany and the less niche nature of the 330 might well make it easier to source cheaper BMW parts and decent specialists if necessary.

    On the BL, apart from the dashboard crack which was cosmetic, we did change the front Bilstein shocks on it I think 3-4 years ago, which was alright given how long they'd lasted and hills, nutty driving, etc. No major issues or servicing problems with the BMW that I know of or remember at least once we got rid of the shitty runflats (which amusingly enough I think we may have done as a nail went into one which then went... flat...).

    I think in this category I would be tempted to call it generally even but with a slight edge to an H6 Subaru as you're less likely to drive it everywhere like a nutter?

    Fuel economy:
    Can't really say how the 2 cars you are looking at would compare. Our BL is thirsty but again, what do you expect if you drive it like a nutter up a lot of hills. Subarus are not known for being fuel-efficient anyway esp given the 4WD. The 320 was probably slightly more economical but not THAT much more given the hills.

    My guess is that the 330 would be slightly more economical. Also, the newer the engine perhaps the more likely you'll be able to run it as we approach phasing out of anti-Euro IV, V etc. standards?

    EDIT: Clarified roll/sway and also rebadged Clarion rather than Denon. Because 2am post.
    Last edited by Yw-slayer; October 11th, 2020 at 01:29 AM. Reason: Minor typos

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •