Subaru SUV’s may not seem like the most appealing vehicle of choice but yet have a look around, there are bloody everywhere. Towards the end of last year the latest generation Forester arrived, with an array of new technologies some of which border on the quirky side. We’ve just spent one week with the 2.5i Premium AWD variant.
What is it?
The Forester is about as close you can get to buying a ubiquitous SUV without actually feeling like you’re not actually in a bloated, top-heavy urban runabout. It sits high with 220mm of clearance but is more like a station-wagon standing on milk crates. You’d need stronger prescription glasses than mine to pick the new model over the old but trust me just about everything is brand spanking new.
The engine is a new unit with a dose of extra gusto, the cabin is larger with five humans able to spread out more comfortably. Plus, the all-important cargo area is now wider and larger.
If you’ve driven either the latest XV or Impreza models you’ll straight away pick the new cabin, it’s basically a carbon copy. With vertical vents either side of the multimedia screen and the smaller top of dash mounted info screen Subaru has persisted with for a while now.
If you require familiarity, you certainly won’t feel lost by upgrading to the new Forester.
Behind the Wheel
Solid, it’s the first word that comes to mind when you get moving in the Forester. It feels strong, robust and substantial. There’s also an immediate sense of being perched up high with a very large front windscreen and great visibility all-round.
The ambiance of the 2.5i Premium variant’s cabin doesn’t really live up to the premium tag, it has that typical Subaru feel that admittedly many have no problem with. It offers no real advantage over offerings from Nissan or Toyota for example. Mazda really is the shining light when it comes to genuine luxury Japanese cabins in this category.
But the drive is excellent with a secure AWD footprint and excellent isolation from some of our more disappointing road surfaces. Dynamically the Forester is also very well sorted, I had actual fun on the odd bit of ‘spirited’ driving. Body roll is well contained and when combined with the Subaru Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive also has the capability of going an extra yard or two off-road than many of the competitors.
Although I’m never been fan of a Continuously Variable Transmissions (CVT), the Lineartronic system found in the Forester was rarely at the forefront of my mind. It’s smooth, responsive and able to be managed via a pseudo seven-speed manual mode if you so desire.
The 2.5-litre petrol engine is hardly a flyer but is relatively free-revving and performs just well enough not to be regarded as sluggish. You can also chuck it into a sport mode via the SI-Drive system for a bit more up and go.
Both I and our Dictator Trevor Long spent some quality time in the Forester, so I thought I’d get his impression on some of the new gadgetry found onboard.
With smartphones all adopting facial recognition for security, it makes sense for that technology to appear elsewhere – but I was shocked when the Forester first told me it had recognised a new face, and then when it told me to focus on the road at one point when I was distracted. It does this via a LED camera installed in the visor of the Multi-Function Display.
That combined with the number of cameras and sensors give a pretty darn impressive all-round sense of the road around you and does instil a sense of safety in me as the driver. The small information screen at the top of the dashboard gives an overwhelming amount of information about what the car is doing, and which sensors are running.
It’s more of a party trick in my mind, but still Subaru should be commended for anything that may slap a distracted driver in the face. Subaru’s renowned EyeSite system is now standard across the range. Anything that brings technology that will intervene in dangerous situations is a very good thing.
We also love the standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto displayed on the main 8.0inch display.
90 per cent of the new four-cylinder engine is new and pumps out 136kW / 239Nm. It’s matched to a CVT transmission with seven-speed manual mode. Power is sent to the AWD system on demand, with an X-Mode option that alters the traction control system for optimised off-road ability.
As there are no options to fork out for, the Subaru Forester 2.5i-Premium is priced from $38,490 before on roads. Subaru has also implemented a five-year unlimited warranty from January 1, 2019. It drinks 7.4-litres of 91 RON fuel per 100km. I averaged 9.4/L/100km
Why Would You Buy One?
Because you’ve had a long standing tried and tested Subaru model in the driveway and it’s time to upgrade.
Look this really is a solid performing near SUV style of car, the perfect halfway car. It’s not overly big but nor is it overly small. I’d like to see a diesel variant and I also feel some of the many safety systems are a tad hyperactive. But the Forester, despite outward appearances is now a completely new car worth a look. It’s a 7.8 out of 10 from me.