Subaru’s popular Forester has been updated for 2015
Subaru’s popular Forester has been updated for 2015, and Farmers Guide borrowed one of the first available in the UK to check out the latest version. David Williams reports.
The latest Subaru Forester is a capable large family car, with excellent performance, good economy and a comfortable ride. Towing capacity is 2,000kg.
The Forester has enjoyed a well-earned reputation for reliability and longevity and the latest version shares many features with its predecessor. For a vehicle designed primarily for road use, ground clearance is pretty good at 220mm and with its permanent 4wd, incorporating a viscous limited slip differential, it is pretty capable off-road, its limitations showing only when deep rutted tracks or tree stumps are challenged.
Engine and transmissions
Engine choices are all 2-litre, and include 150 and 241hp petrol and a 148hp diesel. All use Subaru’s long-established horizontally-opposed 4-cylinder design and drive through 6-speed manual, or all-new CVT transmission.
The 4-cylinder Boxer diesel is refined and provides plenty of grunt.
The test-vehicle had the latest diesel – updated for emissions regulations including new common-rail fuel injection and a variable-geometry turbocharger. Performance from the engine was superb, with plenty of power on and off road and a smoothness that would have drawn compliments for a 6-cylinder. Pulling away from junctions, acceleration was brisk and when overtaking, the 258lbs/ft of torque gave lots of flexibility in third and fourth gears saving mid-acceleration changes.
The test included several hundred miles on varied road types from farm tracks to motorways and average fuel consumption over the week was 42.7mpg, which was quite impressive.
Performance and handling
The Forester is not designed for extreme off-road performance and has no additional settings for suspension or the drive system. On winding back roads there was little body roll even at higher speed, but off-road on bumpy farm tracks, the same suspension system soaked up the bumps with ease. Motorway performance was good. There was limited opportunity to try the car on steeper slopes, but on wet grass and slippery surface mud the traction system and standard 225/60R17 tyres were easily up to the challenge.
As before, the standard vehicle is a comfortable 5-seater, with generous amounts of space front and rear and a decent-size boot.
Available space has been used cleverly so 6ft+ passengers are accommodated in comfort.
The new Forester is one of those vehicles, the popularity of which grows on the driver and passengers over time. It is extremely comfortable and the ride is smooth.
The very low sound levels inside make it relaxing on a long journey and visibility all around is good. There was plenty of legroom at the front, even for the 6ft-plus main driver, and with the driver’s seat almost fully back, there was reasonable leg space for another 6ft tall passenger. The rear seat provides adequate width for three adults, all secured in place by the 3-three-point inertia-reel seat belts.
The boot has a flat floor, and can be extended by folding down the rear seats, although this extra front area is slightly higher than the standard main boot space. There are six good tie-down points provided to secure loads in the rear. Access to the boot is excellent through a single-piece top-hinged tailgate and is relatively unobstructed with narrow side sections and a very low sill height.
Living with it
Overall the driving position is comfortable and everything looks and feels well finished. There are no rattles, even on the bumpy farm tracks at speed, and there is plenty of storage space provided including large door pockets, a decent sized glove box and several compartments low down in the dash and by the gear lever.
The test vehicle had standard cloth seats which were comfortable and both the driver and passenger seats had heaters. Adjustment is all-electric for the driver, but manual for the passenger. The steering wheel is a good size, and chunky making it ideal for gloved hands. The indicator and wiper stalks are also a good size and easy to use. Switches for cruise control and Bluetooth are smaller, but adequate.
The dashboard is well laid out and the main feature is a new 7in touch-screen display. Dual-zone climate control is standard on the XC version tested, as is the rear-view camera system.
A feature of the new Foresters is a 7in central display screen, used to adjust the sound system and to view the reversing camera images. The display quality is excellent; crystal clear, and reassuring when reversing, even during heavy rain, but when trying to programme the system to play music from an external feed such as a mobile phone, the small areas of the touch-screen provided for the selection meant the desired radio station or song track was easily missed.
The screen also displays data from the trip computer, and a handy feature which will be of assistance when driving on muddy rutted tracks is an indicator which displays the steering angle of the front wheels.
The instrument panel is well laid out and clear, but dislikes were the bar-type fuel level indication and the lack of an engine temperature gauge, the driver instead relying on hot and cold warning lights.
Ground clearance is 220mm and approach and departure angles are both 25 degrees.
The new Forester won’t be the primary 4wd vehicle chosen where off-road conditions are frequently severe, but as a main vehicle for family use, which is also more than capable of travelling across fields or along challenging farm access roads in the winter, it will fit the bill well. It is definitely a vehicle which grows on you over time, and generated enthusiastic comments from passengers, several of who currently own competitor vehicles. The standard warranty is five years or 100,000 miles, and the price of the Forester 2.0D XC manual version tested is 26,995.