By Ian Strachan
The Subaru Forester has long been one of my favourite 4x4s, with good looks and high specification in a sensible-sized package. It’s a four wheeel-drive vehicle with a strong personality and a purposeful look.
And in its latest version it builds on its strengths of being a tough and capable 4×4, with an attractive cabin and improved equipment levels, smart styling and added safety features.
The Forester – which has picked up a fair few awards in its time and boasts a five-year warranty – 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 17 inch alloy wheels and a high ground clearance make the Forester look impressively imposing.
I tested the two-litre petrol-powered version which pumps out 150 horsepower – more than many in its class – and as a result is brisk and dynamic. It propels you from 0-60 mph in just over 11 seconds, but feels quicker. My test car was equipped with Subaru’s lineartronic automatic gearbox.
Fuel consumption from the 2.0 petrol Forester automatic is nothing to write home about at 32.2 mpg in mixed driving, but this is quite a big vehicle.
The latest 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 which can be expanded with the 60-40 split rear seats 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 on-the-road price of the 2.0 XE Premium version which I tested – at £32,515 – is competitive, bearing in mind the high equipment levels.
Standard equipment on this specification includes alloy wheels, cruise control, climate control, remote central locking with keyless entry, rear parking camera, satellite navigation, DAB radio and CD player, electric heated door mirrors, electric sunroof, automatic steering-responsive headlights, front and rear fog lights, roof rails, a good six-speaker audio system with DAB radio and touchscreen controls, leather seats, powered driver’s seat, powered tailgate 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.