Subaru Forester Road Test 2016

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As with all of Subaru’s models the latest Forester is remarkably similar to the one that went before, the slightly unusual looks and boxy shape carrying on into 2016. And naturally the other aspect of the Forester that has remained the same is the car’s almost disdainful attitude to off roading, the fully automated Symmetrical AWD system still one of the most refined. The Forester also remains the most SUV orientated of the Subaru range, the practical shape, carrying capacity and towing ability making the Forester one of the number one choices of the equine fraternity.   


On the outside the latest Forester has undergone only the mildest of revisions to a degree it’s the newly updated sports grille and more discreet over moulds that singles the latest Forester out from its predecessors. Apart from these subtle revisions the Forester remains slab sided although light lines and restrained contours do a more than admirable job of toning down the Forester’s angular shape. And as before the muscular alloy rims, in this case 17” shod with 225/60 Yokohama rubber collectively hint at Forester’s more than ample performance and adventurous capabilities, four wide doors, a deep tailgate and 220mm ground clearance maintain the car’s practicality.


Inside the cabin it’s with a degree of irony that the fabric trimmed XC spec is actually the more welcoming in comparison to the higher specified leather clad versions. Comfortable, sensibly layed out, instrumentation is clear and concise, the main computer readout is located on top of the dashboard whilst controls have been kept to an easy to find and deploy minimum. Similarly, the central screen is straightforward to use as is the Bluetooth system. It must be noted though that in basic trim, satnav isn’t standard, something of an omission on a car of this price.  

With more than sufficient room for five passengers and 505 litres of luggage, cargo capacity can be quickly expanded to an almost square 1,592 litres with the quick release rear seats folded. And if this isn’t enough an additional 2,000kg of towing capacity is available the load kept neatly in line courtesy to the Forester’s self-leveling rear suspension struts.   


Where the latest Forester genuinely scores is beneath the bonnet. For those who wish to capitalise on Subaru’s renowned power and performance the petrol options are still available but for most it will be the flat-4 Boxer 2-litre diesel. Developing 147hp in conjunction with 350Nm of torque mated to a 6-speed manual transmission, the smoothness of the engine is now remarkably impressive. Topping out at 118mph with a 0-62mph in 9.9seconds, whilst neither are in the WRX time frame, speed and acceleration is still more than respectable for a car of this type. Returning a more than acceptable 44.7 average mpg over a variety of roads and driving conditions, the engine’s flexibility allows for a far more relaxed driving style, the diesel pulling back to higher speeds with no obvious signs of labouring. It also confirms that owners should see around 500 miles per 60 litre tank of fuel.    


The preferred option for most Forester buyers will be the 6-speed Lineartronic CVT transmission but for those who intend towing on a regular basis the 6-speed manual could well be the better option. Positive, the gate is well defined and allows the driver more control over the engine and power delivery, an asset with a full load onboard and trailer attached. On the road the Forester delivers one of the smoothest rides in its class, little if any road imperfections transmitting into the cabin. Add in the turbine like delivery by the engine and progress is conspicuously refined, the view from behind the 2.7 turns lock to lock steering wheel.


Its only when pushed hard that the Forester’s 2,110kg gross weight  will induce the car into a hint of understeer, the AWD system and chassis dynamics under most conditions encouraging the front to tuck in. Overall besides the maturity of the ride the Forester balances well with no intimation of anything that could possibly catch out the unwary driver. Off road the Forester is equally accomplished, the only required input being the fact the driver needs to choose the direction of travel and whilst avoiding any obvious hazards. And as on hard surfaces it’s only more severe surfaces that transmit into the cabin, the latest spec Forester ironing out most surface abnormalities.


Starting at £25,495 for the XE model the prices climb to £29,495 for the XC Premium, the XC Diesel Manual as tested costing £26,995. Over recent years due to the weakening strength of the Yen along with a more sensible financial approach, Subaru’s Forester has become a far more widely available option. And whilst it remains possibly one of the most unusual looking SUV’s on the market it also remains one of the most capable. On road the car is relaxed, comfortable and undemanding to drive, traits that the Forester transfers with ease when crossing more demanding surfaces. Whilst the Forester’s styling might not be to everyone’s taste, the build and ride quality combined with carrying capacity and ability to go almost anywhere positively transcend the aesthetics.  


           

By; Mark Stone



Subaru Forester Road Test