Forester 2.0i XE Premium Lineartronic
to reach the parts most SUVs
What you need is one
powered by a petrol-drinking
turbocharged Boxer engine and
with symmetrical all-wheel-drive,
it will get you just about anywhere...
SOME WOULD SAY that when it comes to SUVs there's now too much choice.
However, the upside of the wide-ranging variety is that we don't all end up
driving the same vehicle. Take Subaru's Forester the Japanese carmaker's
SUV employs the brand's unique and classically iconic formula of boxer engine
and permanent all-wheel drive that endows the Forester with a degree of all-terrain
competence that few of its rivals can equal.
The Forester boasts clean-cut good looks fronted by a chiselled nose, hexagonal
grille and sculpted clamshell-style bonnet, with a side profile that's refreshingly
less 'pumped-up' than some of the competition. So while it's unmistakably a
Sports Utility Vehicle, it's refreshingly low-key which will appeal
to many would-be owners who want the off-road abilities but not the in-you-face
open the driver's door and you'll be welcomed in by the cabin's clubby leather-rich
feel. The wide seats are well bolstered and satisfyingly supportive with plenty
of elbow room between them. The trim looks high-grade, with carbon-effect dash
inserts and a high-gloss black touchscreen surround.
open the drivers
door and youll be
welcomed in by the
cabins clubby leather-
rich feel. The wide seats
are well bolstered and
with plenty of elbow
room between them.
The trim looks high-
grade, with carbon-effect
dash inserts and a
The driver can quickly
set the perfect seating
position courtesy of full
a two-setting memory
recall makes his n
driving a civilised
The driver can quickly set the perfect seating position courtesy of full power
adjustment a two-setting memory recall makes his-and-hers driving
a civilised affair. As, too, do the two-stage heated seats. The leather-wrapped
wheel is good to hold and fully multifunction: lane control, speed limiter,
cruise, driver's info display, phone, voice, media, etc.
The view from behind the wheel is commanding. Slim A-pillars and a wide and
deep front screen ensure a fantastic view over the bonnet and make the Forester
a piece of cake to place (not just when parking but also off-road where visibility
is as important as traction). The rear screen is also deep and wide with minimally-intrusive
rear three-quarter panels, so no problems in that direction either.
Add to that generous all-round glazing and an airy glasshouse topped off with
a sizeable powered glass sunroof and you have a delightfully airy cabin that's
a real pleasure to travel in, be you driver or passenger. A blackout blind and
deep sunvisors keep the glare at bay very effectively the sunblinds
also extend inwards to cover the gap either side of the auto-dimming rearview
Driver comfort is further improved by shin-friendly footwells (and you don't
have to take off your boots before driving!) and a restful left-footrest finished
in non-slip alloy to match the main aluminium pedal set. Many drivers will be
pleased to find a trad-style pull-up handbrake but that doesn't mean that you
go short on tech: Comms are well served by a seven-inch touchscreen serving
up infotainment and navigation and the view from the reversing camera, all with
Press the Talk button on the wheel and you can, for instance, ask for music
("play Bohemian Rhapsody"), set a navigation destination, ask it to search for
the nearest petrol station, or set up a call ("phone Nancy"). Music is via DAB
radio or Bluetooth; alternatively there's a CD slot and the Aha app. The 3D
mapping is sharply detailed with crystal clear street names that are easy to
take in both day and night.
addition to a secondary multi-information display set top dead centre of the
fascia, the main instrument panel houses foolproof white-on-black main dials
either side of an LCD screen displaying prime driving information such as a
digital readout of your road speed. The posted speed limit is, incidentally,
shown on the main touchscreen.
And while plenty of information is good, so too is in-cabin storage of which
the Forester has plenty: starting with a large 'cave' at the base of the centre
stack there's also dual-use twin cupholders, a decent sized box between the
front seats capped by a padded armrest, and bottle-holding door bins along with
a good-sized glovebox.
£32,5000, the flagship XE Premium Lineartronic model comes well loaded with
kit. In addition to the numerous items (4WD, Comms, leather, etc) mentioned
elsewhere, there's keyless entry and push button start, dual-zone climate control
with anti-dust filter, UV protection glass, powerfolding and heated door mirrors,
power windows (the driver's has one-shot op), hill start assist, auto lights
and wipes, pop-up headlight washers, windscreen wiper de-icer, tyre pressure
monitoring, 'bending' headlights, and 17-inch black alloys.
in the form
of X-Drive a whole
suite of electronics
designed to get the best
traction off-road tackling
serious mud and,
thanks also to an
climbing or descending
slopes. In fact youll
surprised just how
competent the Forester is
tackling tricky terrain...
The Forester is also big on safety with a full-fat five-star EuroNCAP rating
and twin front, side, and curtain airbags plus one for the driver's knee. Subaru's
advanced driver assistance EyeSight system is also standard-fit and uses a dual-camera
scanner to monitor traffic and pedestrians as well as maintain a safe distance
from the vehicle in front in adaptive cruise control mode; it will also deliver
autonomous pre-collision braking to avoid an impact.
There's also Lane Sway and Departure Warning, Lane Keep Assist, Lead Vehicle
Start Alert (warns you, if you're daydreaming, that the car ahead has moved
off), Vehicle Dynamics Control, Trailer Stability Control, whiplash-reducing
front seats, height-adjustable front belts, drive-off automatic door locking,
and LED headlights.
Travelling in the back is usually a passenger's second choice but in the Forester
it's likely to be their first there's generous headroom as well
as space for feet, knees and legs. You sit about six inches higher than those
up front on perforated leather seats that are both comfortable and nicely supportive,
and that with reclining backrests make long trips very agreeable indeed.
touches include lower door seals that exclude dirt and mud in bad weather so
clothing is kept clean entering and exiting. Other plusses include dedicated
AirCon vents and USB charging ports, capacious pouches on the front seatbacks,
a drop-down central armrest with built-in shake-proof cupholders, large bottle-holding
door bins, and ISOFIX child seat fastenings.
Along with the tall glasshouse and big glass sunroof, large third side windows
keep the rear cabin pleasantly airy. And with even three side-by-side feeling
sociable, the wide cabin is a practical place for family travels; long trips
is renowned for using 'Boxer' engines so called because of their
horizontally-opposed cylinders that sees the pistons 'punching' past each other
as they work. But there is a practical reason to use them: they're flatter so
can be fitted lower in the engine bay to keep the car's centre of gravity low,
with benefits for handling as well as safety in a severe crash
the Boxer engine simply slides under the car instead of into the cabin.
in the back
is usually a passengers
second choice but in
the Forester its
be their first theres
generous headroom as
well as space for feet,
knees and legs.
You sit about six inches
higher than those up
front on perforated
leather seats that are
and nicely supportive
and, with reclining
backrests, make long
trips very agreeable
turboed four-cylinder 2.0-litre Boxer unit powering the Forester revs sweetly
and serves up its 147bhp and 146lb ft of torque cleanly. Partnered with a CVT
automatic transmission and a sharp throttle response it delivers ample 'oomph'
whether you're just pootling or pressing on, hitting 62mph from standstill in
11.2 seconds and running on to a top speed of 119mph.
Conveniently sited on the steering wheel are the SI-Drive buttons giving you
choice of two driving modes: efficient Intelligent, which you'll use most of
the time, and Sport for when you really do want to get a move on. Paddle-shifters
on the wheel enable hands-on drivers to take full control of the shifting whenever
they please the CVT automatic offers six stepped simulated gear
A petrol drinker by nature, the Boxer engine's official Combined Cycle figure
is 32.2mpg although our full week's testing did better, recording a very reasonable
test average of 35.6mpg not only better than promised, but liveable
given the automatic powertrain and permanent all-wheel drive.
on Subaru's all-new platform, the Forester conducts itself on the road with
marked composure body control is well managed, and there's no
penalty for having some fun. Of course, the permanent 4x4 is a major factor
here, providing plenty of grip and making it a reassuring beastie to put through
the twists and turns of an interesting B-road while staying secure and well
balanced. There's also a nice 'pointiness' at the nose while the feelsome brakes
never leave you wanting for more bite when asked, the Forester
Forget the X-Men; the Forester's got its own onboard 'super-hero' in the form
of X-Drive a whole suite of electronics designed to get the best
traction off-road tackling serious mud and, thanks also to an excellent hill
descent programme, climbing or descending treacherously slippery slopes. In
fact you'll be surprised just how competent the Forester is tackling tricky
helps, too, that there's a generous 220mm of ground clearance and approach and
departure angles that you'd expect to find on a more hardore off-roader (26-degree
departure; 23-degree ramp; and 25-degree approach). The excellent all-round
visibility, a bonus on-road, is equally welcome, and absolutely essential, away
from the beaten track. Combine these positives with the Forester's symmetrical
all-wheel drive and you'll soon discover that Subaru's discreet SUV is seriously
capable off-road; and more so than many of its in-sector rivals.
nose-to-tail the Foresters
cargo space can be
drop the 60:40-split rear seats and youll have a
1,557-litre loadbay with
a flat, seamless floor.
It also benefits from a
suspension, so safely
carrying heavy loads is
well within its remit...
its trailblazing character you might not expect much in the way of a caressing
ride. Actually, the Forester's ride is agreeably supple, soaking up lumps and
bumps effectively on blacktop and off-road terrain with little fuss. No complaints,
either, from the 60-profile Yokohama rubber that aids ride comfort as well as
providing strong grip.
Measuring 4.6-metres nose-to-tail, the Forester's cargo space can be pretty
accommodating drop the 60:40-split rear seats and you'll have
a 1,557-litre loadbay with a flat, seamless floor. It also benefits from
a load-compensating rear suspension, so safely carrying heavy loads is well
within its remit.
Accessing the golf bag-swallowing 505-litre boot and loadbay is as easy as it
gets thanks to an ultra-wide powered tailgate that's quick to open and quick
to close using the key-fob or the dash switch. Handily, the opening height can
also be adjusted. Lift the floor panel and you'll find a selection of handy
storage trays. Another useful feature is the large rear doors: they open to
90-degrees and not only make entry and exit über-easy for passengers but are
very practical when loading/unloading the cargo bay. Should you prefer to tow
your cargo, the Forester will pull a braked 2,000kg. Plus there are roof rails
for overspill luggage on those family staycations.
If you're going to drive an SUV it makes sense to have one with permanent all-wheel
drive. The no-nonsense family-friendly Forester does, and is also as tough as
it is easygoing, comfortable (wherever you sit), and more than happy to whisk
you into the rough places where many of its rivals cannot follow. ~ MotorBar
Subaru Forester 2.0i XE Premium Lineartronic
Maximum speed: 119mph | 0-62mph: 11.8 seconds | Test Average: 35.6mpg
Power: 147bhp | Torque: 146lb ft | CO2: 168g/km