When a 2011 Subaru Legacy 2.5 GT Limited showed up on my doorstep I knew it was going to be a great week. The 2.5GT Limited, starting at $32,120, is the sportiest of the Legacy sedans. Its turbocharged 2.5-liter four cylinder produces 265 horsepower — 95 horses more than the base 2.5i can muster, and nine more than the 3.6R’s 3.6-liter flat-six.

Performance

The turbocharged 2.5GT feels very fast; the model inherits the WRX’s new engine, with a greatly flattened torque curve. It delivers power quickly, smoothly, and with very little turbo lag. My 2.5GT got to 60 mph in an agressive and slightly startling 5.6 seconds. This is not your typical four door sedan.

The 2.5GT Limited comes as a six-speed manual only – you can further gussy it up with a short-throw kit, part of an $1154 option pack that includes a boost gauge. The clutch pedal is light and engages smoothly and precisely, unfortunately the shifter’s gates are resistant and overall effort to find a gear can be high and at step-off, clutch slipping is often necessary to coax the car into motion. Throttle response is quick and rev-matching for quick downshifts is incredibly easy.

Subaru Legacy 2.5 GT Review ZipRage-9

Steering is very precise and incredibly responsive and the firm yet compliant suspension feels ready for abrupt maneuvers while at the same time soaking up small imperfections, potholes, and general coarseness. The 2.5GT models feels surprisingly nimble considering it’s a four door sedan and a good sized one at that. Push the Legacy hard into a corner and you get a reasonable amount of body lean, yet the suspension maintains grip beyond expectation. You get almost no nosedive in hard braking or front-end lift in hard acceleration. And the car handles like a champ over snow or ice.

Where’s the handbrake? Seriously, one of the more frustrating aspects of the car was a lack of a handbrake. Subaru has spent millions to acquire a legitimate rally heritage, yet this car is ­fitted with no hand brake. Blasphemy.

Gas mileage in the 2.5GT was surprisingly good. Over my 7 day test period I got 24.7 miles per gallon average. Not bad considering I drove it quite aggressively.

Driving in the clouds

I took the car out for one of my favorite fall drives here in Colorado:

You just can’t beat Colorado in fall. I whipped the Legacy up to Echo lake which is beautifully shadowed by Mount Evans. Driving at 12,000 ft. is enough to make most any car asphyxiate, the 2.5GT accelerated through every corner and switchback with ease. Acceleration was quick, cornering tight and braking controlled. Ice and snow are already readily present in the mountains here and neither proved to be a challenge thanks to the Legacy’s all-wheel-drive.

Quality

Thanks to the few inches of additional wheelbase the Legacy received in its complete redesign last year, the 2011 Subaru Legacy is a very roomy and comfortable sedan, capable of accommodating four adults with room to spare. The Legacy’s front seats are simply fantastic, loads of legroom, nice and long cushions, great adjustments and a superb butt-hugging bucket. All the standard niceties are onboard as well, with eight cup holders, cubbies in each door, several center console bins, map pockets, plus an overhead console on all models. You also get chrome exhaust tips, a power driver’s seat, dual-zone climate control, a 440-watt Harman Kardon premium audio system, a power moonroof, and fog lights.

The interior is nicely appointed with carbon fiber accent pieces adding to an overall refined yet sporty looking interior. The leather was plush, comfortable and not overly hot in the sun or frigid after a freezing night.  A huge complaint, however, was that all the indicators in the center console become nearly invisible in sunlight. I had a very difficult time seeing the LCD display for the radio and the lower display for climate control. White on black simply did not offer the contrast necessary to combat a sunny Colorado day.

Looking at the car from the outside you might think it looks a bit small in the rear – you’d be wrong. The trunk is absolutely huge at 14.7 cubic feet — with a nice big opening, and easy pull levers right up near the trunk rim allow the rear seats to flip forward, creating a nice flat load surface.

Conclusion

The Legacy finds itself in a rather odd place.

On one hand it’s a refined business class sedan – with matching features; a nice leather interior, plenty of legroom front and back, dual zone climate control, a powerful Harmon Kardon stereo and all-wheel-drive. But, along with all the niceties you get highly aggressive acceleration, a somewhat clunky six-speed gearbox, highly responsive handling and great braking.

Despite some of the cars drawbacks – clunky gearbox, lack of handbrake and often invisible center console displays, it really is an excellent car. Given it’s size, level of comfort in the interior and trunk space it’s simply mind-blowing when you give it all it’s got and find yourself cruising at 60 only 6 seconds later. I really loved driving the Legacy GT, it’s fun, it’s comfortable, it’s well appointed, it drives like a dream, it’ll throw you back in your seat if you want – or it’ll comfortably cruise to the grocery store with plenty of room for the groceries.