By Ian Strachan
The Subaru Forester has always been one of my favourite small 4x4s, with good looks and high specification in a sensible-sized package. It’s a 4×4 with a strong personality and a purposeful look, writes Ian Strachan.
And in its latest form it builds on its strengths of being a tough and capable 4×4, with an upgraded cabin and improved equipment levels, revised styling and added safety features.
The Forester – which has picked up a fair few awards lately – can’t be described as a true off-roader – more a grass and gravel vehicle – but it certainly looks like one. And its capability is more than you might imagine. I tested it over fields and rough tracks and it didn’t put a wheel wrong.
Large wheels and a high ground clearance make the Forester look impressively imposing. Some subtle styling changes to the grill and front end give it a purposeful look.
I tested the two-litre diesel-powered version which pumps out 147 horsepower – more than many in its class – and as a result is brisk and dynamic. It propels you from 0-60 mph in around nine seconds and feels quick for its size.
The 2.0 diesel Forester will return a more-than-respectable 46.3 mpg in mixed driving. The vehicle I tested was fitted with Subaru’s CVT variable speed automatic box with a manual over-ride. It’s a pleasant gearbox with more than enough grunt, particularly at low speeds.
The Forester has a crisp, well laid out and comfortable interior with an abundance of soft materials. The centre armrest is also a storage box, and there’s lots of stowage space around the cabin. Leather seats are large and supportive. Instruments are clear and well laid out. The whole of the interior feels spacious, pleasant and light, particularly with the large powered sunroof.
You get a very large loadspace at the rear – 1573 litres with the rear sets folded – and plenty of leg and headroom for passengers.
The Subaru’s all wheel drive makes for a stable and safe ride. The Forester is glued to the road on cornering, but still provides light handling and driver involvement.
Equipment levels are high, and the price of the 2.0 D XC Premium version which I tested – at £32,495 – is competitive, bearing in mind the high equipment levels.
Standard equipment on this specification includes alloy wheels, cruise control, climate control, rear parking camera, satellite navigation, DAB radio and CD player, electric heated mirrors, electric sunroof, automatic headlights, leather seats and all round electric windows.
This is a capable and attractive vehicle which has been nicely freshened-up – building on its strengths without taking away the things that made it a good car to start with.