The oft-forgotten Subaru Forester is the best selling model in Subaru UK’s range so, whilst it has been around for a while we tried one as a baseline before driving some of their newer models.
Over its four generations, the Forester has consistently evolved from the original “square station wagon” form factor towards a taller, more conventional compact SUV package. It’s not a vehicle that stands out in a crowd, but that’s not a bad thing really. As you’d expect from its size, it comfortably holds five, with three distinct seats across the rear, and has a 550 litre boot.
We drove the two-litre, XE Premium model which comes loaded with leather and comforts. It generates 150 metric ponies from its naturally aspirated boxer motor, whereas the turbo petrol delivers 241 and the turbo diesel 147. The diesel and NA petrol models are available with both 6-speed manual gearboxes and Lineartronic CVT. Lineartronic’s seamless operation suits the car, and is the only transmission available for the turbo petrol. Lineartronic also brings X-Drive, a 1-touch “Let’s Off-Road Mode” that primes the Limited Slip Differential and Vehicle Dynamic Control whilst engaging Hill Descent Control. The outcome of all this is that it makes even amateurs look like off-road-driving-gods.
The model we tested had the award-winning EyeSight active safety system fitted, helping bring a five-star Euro NCAP rating. EyeSight includes Pre-collision braking, throttle management and steering assist; adaptive cruise control; lane departure and sway monitoring and lead vehicle start alert. It’s getting to the stage that to crash a modern Subaru you really have to be trying quite hard.
On road, the low centre of gravity and ability to synthesise a 6-gear paddle shift mean it can be hustled along when necessary, although the combination of leather and relatively flat front seats mean that the main challenge for the driver is staying in place rather than any handling misdemeanours.
This XE Premium Lineartronic costs £32,834 including Tow pack and £550 Colour tax, but before extras.
For people with the right use-case, the Forester makes a strong argument for itself, especially given its lack of direct rivals. Running costs might be high, depending on engine choice, but you know that the car itself will last for years and years without issue and for many potential buyers, that’s probably enough.
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