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



Sister's desperate plea: Give missing men 'fighting chance'

The men missing at sea.

Adam Bidner's sister Jodie asks for community's help.

National Geographic to feature local roo sanctuary

GLOBAL EXPOSURE: Renowned Italian photographer Stefano Unterthiner (left) with Horizons Kangaroo Sanctuary owner Garry McLean and an eastern grey kangaroo.

Agnes Water is hopping on to the world stage.

Agnes Water cut off from vital medication during floods

DANGEROUS SITUATION: Anyone who runs out of medication while Agnes Water is flooded could face a dangerous wait (file photo).

The town's vulnerability to flooding could put patients at risk.

Local Partners

Couples reveal biggest mistakes made in bed

A NEW survey gives a very intimate look into our sex lives — and apparently, there are many simple things we can do to ruin the mood.

4 things missing from your suitcase

What technology do you really need to pack on holiday?

These items are worth their weight at check-in.

We want your help to choose the front cover

Would you like to see  world welterweight champion Jeff Horn on the cover of the new-look Weekend magazine? Vote now.

Help us choose the sports star for the new-look Weekend front cover

REVEALED: What it's like to drive the Mercedes-Benz ute

The Mercedes-Benz X-Class goes on sale in Australia from early 2018.

There will be three model grades, starting with a basic "tradie”.

Dad's shock breast cancer diagnosis: 'It's real'

AFTER SURGERY: Lismore Base Hospital patient Gregory Moss is undergoing treatment for breast cancer and wants to raise awareness about the serious condition that can be suffered by men as well as women.

"Breast cancer for men is real and men do die from it.”

World-first surgery for brave 'little champion'

Paige Humphrey in a sunflower field outside Casino.

Keep Paige in your thoughts - today is the big day

Miss Supercars' Olympic heartache

Miss Supercars 2017 winner, Darwin’s Sophie Budack (centre), with first runner-up from the Gold Coast Michaela Arnott (right) and second runner-up Nicole Hall from Brisbane. Picture: Glenn Hampson

Her wins secures a $25,000 prize package including $1000 cash