Lifestyle

New Subaru Forester impresses on road test

Subaru's new Forester is at home on the dirt.
Subaru's new Forester is at home on the dirt.

IMPROVED interior space and off-road ability are the headline acts for Subaru's new Forester.

Pre-production cars were unveiled in Canberra this week ahead of the popular SUV's showroom launch next month.

Featuring a more muscular look where no exterior panel is the same as its predecessor, Subaru is arming the Forester with normally aspirated 2.0-litre and 2.5-litre petrol, turbo-petrol and turbo-diesel engines.

The 2013 Forester enters the fray in a vastly different market from when the nameplate was launched 15 years ago. SUVs are currently taking the market by storm. It's the fastest growing segment at the expense of passenger vehicles, with diesel power and two-wheel drive versions gaining favour rapidly.

Subaru's smaller XV has enjoyed amazing sales success over the past year. And there's a hint of the popular compact SUV in the Forester's styling.

Pricing will be announced closer to launch next year, but given the competitive SUV genre Subaru could undercut its current base-model price of $30,990, while the diesel may stay the same at $36,490.

Comfort

Feeling airy and spacious, Subaru has done wonders by moving the A-pillar forward 200mm and making full use of the 25mm longer wheelbase.

Those in the back will particularly appreciate the smaller transmission floor tunnel and greater elbow and shoulder room. The front seat backs are also concaved for additional knee room.

Improvements have been made in noise, vibration and harshness levels, although there was some wind intrusion in the driver's door on the models we sampled.

The seats are good to sit in over long journeys with solid support particular for the upper body.

On the road

The manual-only diesel and the 2.5-litre petrol (only available with a continuously variable automatic transmission) were available to test this week, but the latter is expected to be the volume seller.

Quiet and spritely, the petrol is a refined unit which can handle both city and country travel.

Particularly impressive is the new

X-Mode functionality for off-roading. It can be engaged at under 40kmh and makes easy work of slippery surfaces, controlling the differential rotation between the front and rear wheels - sending power to where you need it most.

We tackled a 25% gradient, up and down, where the Forester climbed and descended with ease.

The Forester has always handled dirt roads well and this latest iteration has again raised the bar. It irons out the pot holes well and feels surefooted.

What do you get?

Standard gear includes a CD stereo with MP3 compatibility and a USB connection, auto stop/start, Bluetooth phone connectivity and audio streaming, climate controlled air-con and cruise control.

The range-topper gets an automatic tailgate, EyeSight safety functionality, sat nav, Xenon headlights, leather trim and a smart key with push button start.

EyeSight is an impressive safety addition to the Forester, and uses technology such as radar cruise control and lane departure warning. It can also apply the brakes automatically if a collision is detected.

Other options

Key rivals with all-wheel drive include soon to be overhauled Toyota RAV4 (from $31,990), Nissan X-Trail (from $32,690), Mazda CX-5 (from $32,300), Mitsubishi's new Outlander (from $33,990) and the Suzuki Grand Vitara Urban (from $26,990 drive-away).

Running costs

Larger tyres are used on the new Forester for lower rolling resistance and it's also more aerodynamic. All models have good fuel consumption (the 2.0-litre engine is over 20% more efficient), but the diesel is the pick of the bunch for frugality.

Subaru has also consistently been rated as one of the best in terms of after sales experience.

Practicality

Thankfully the child seat anchorage points are now in the seatbacks, rather than the boot roofline, which improves load flexibility and visibility.

The boot space is good, although probably slightly impeded in depth by the full-size spare - which has become a rarity nowadays.

Funky factor

While the silhouette is still very much Forester, sheet metal changes provide a grown-up look. It's come a long way in 15 years.

The alterations deliver a muscular stance, giving it a sportier appeal especially with the new alloys.

 

The lowdown

Forester is better equipped to face a challenging genre.

It possesses the ability to tackle some difficult terrain, which is a good option for those who want to head off mountain biking, kayaking, hiking or just want to tackle the semi-beaten track.

Subaru is desperately trying to lobby for an automatic transmission in its diesel, and it's a vital addition to meet the Aussie obsession with self-shifters.

 

What matters most

The good stuff: Spacious cabin feel, off-road ability, child seat anchorage points finally in the seat backs, full-size spare.

What we'd like to seeLess interior hard plastics, automatic transmission option for the diesel.

Warranty: Three year unlimited kilometres. Servicing will be every 12,500km or six months.

 

VITAL STATISTICS

Model: Subaru Forester.

Details: Five-door medium-size all-wheel drive sports utility vehicle.

Engine: 2.0-litre four-cylinder boxer petrol generating maximum power of 110kW @ 6200rpm and peak torque of 198Nm @ 4200rpm; 2.5-litre four-cylinder boxer petrol generating maximum power of 126kW @ 5800rpm and peak torque of 235Nm @ 4100rpm.

Transmissions: Six-speed manual (2.0 only) or continuously variable automatic (2.5-litre only).

Consumption: 7.2 litres/100km (combined average); 8.1L/100km.

CO2: 168g/km; 187g/km.

Towing capacity: 1500kg; tow ball maximum 150kg.

Engine: 2.0-litre common rail diesel generating maximum power of 108kW @ 3600rpm and peak torque of 350Nm @ 1600-2400rpm.

Transmissions: Six-speed manual.

Consumption: 5.9 litres/100km (combined average).

CO2: 156g/km.

Towing capacity: 1800kg; tow ball maximum 180kg.

Topics:  cars, forester, future models, subaru




Stay Connected

Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.

3 easy dinner recipes your kids will love, and so will you

No Caption

THERE is a middle ground! Dinners fit for kids and adults.

How to reduce your child's risk of food allergies

ABOUT 90% of food allergies are caused by just seven foods.

5 good mental health habits for kids (and parents)

CRYING OUT FOR HELP: The demand for counselling support for children and young people is increasing.

FORMING good habits early is critical for your child's mental health.

Smack or no smack - where do you stand?

THE debate is reignited - is smacking acceptable?

Susie O'Neill: Why I stopped smacking my children

Swimming legend Susie O'Neill says she has stopped smacking her kids.

“I (smacked) because that’s what I knew growing up."

Introducing a step-parent into the family

Introducing a step-parent into the family can be stressful for the children, as well as the new parent.

THERE is no easy way to introduce a step parent into the family.

Hey Mumma: NSW launches inquiry into childhood obesity

Do you think kids need more exercise?

Hospital expected $7m in budget: it got less than 2% of that

Grafton Base Hospital. Photo Debrah Novak / The Daily Examiner

Fears $121,000 in budget for care centre is a delaying tactic

Latest deals and offers

Ulmarra Public School celebrates 125 years

CELEBRATION: Isabella Watts, Sophie Watts, Jean Kratz and Emily Watts cutting the cake at Ulmarra Public School's 125th birthday celebrations on Friday, June 24.

Ulmarra Public School celebrates 125 years

Justice Lucy McCallum

Justice Lucy McCallum

Justice Lucy McCallum says she reduced Oliver Curtis's sentence due to comments...

Perisher has 50cm of snow

Resort to open after 50cm of snow.

Smiggin Holes and Blue Cow to open after 50cm of snaow falls in Perisher valley.

Commercial Property June 16 edition

SNAPPED UP: A sushi shop in a106sq mground-floor tenancy with a 43sq moutdoor area in Southport Central Towers on the Gold Coast has sold for $954,000.

RealCommercial edition June 16, 2016.

Iconic North Coast hotel could sell for $80 million

ON THE MARKET: The Beach Hotel, Byron Bay.

Million-dollar views, good income, beer - what more could you want?