There’s something oddly German about my Subaru Forester long-termer. And I don’t mean German in the luxury automotive sense – there’s certainly no whiff of BMW, Mercedes-Benz or Audi in this left-field Jap – but there’s certainly a Teutonic vibe in its Bauhausian form-und-funktion approach to automotive design.
Even dressed in its subtly pearlescent Satin White paintwork and 17-inch five spoke alloys, you’d hardly call the Forester a beautiful car now would you. Yet there is something handsomely attractive about that steely-jawed front end and slab-sided profile that projects a get-the-job-done sensibility to what ever task is required.
Fortunately most of those tasks this SUV has been designed for dovetail perfectly with my own requirements and so far the Forester and I have gotten along swimmingly. I guess you can put me into the “weekend warrior with a family” box meaning my automotive needs include a weekday morning school/work run, the Saturday morning grocery shop, some gravel-roading ability to access mountain bike and trail running trails, plus, of course, the odd weekend-away with the family.
To this end, throughout its four generations, the Forester has become a firm favourite among my ilk who’ve taken to its roomy dimensions, utilitarian styling and go-just-about-anywhere all-wheel-drive capabilities. Accessorised with some Thule Wing Bar roof racks and a tow bar-mounted two-bike Thule EuroWay G2 bake carrier, the Scooby with its 288 dm3 (1 240 dm3 with the seats folded) luggage space has happily hauled all my family, friends and kit across this great country of ours.
It’s also done so in considerable comfort too. Being the Premium model, this XS comes standard with a leather interior, auto-powered rear hatch, keyless entry, multi-functional colour display with a reversing camera, auto headlamps, rain-sensing wipers, and a double-volume glass sunroof.
Powering the car is a 2,5-litre naturally aspirated boxer engine mated to a smooth and efficient CVT gearbox. With 126 kW and 235 N.m there’s more than enough power to haul a fully laden car and, while CVTs aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, the Forester’s ‘box has impressed me. It’s easily the best I’ve tried and if you are interested in controlling the shifts yourself, you can click the gear lever left and hook six virtual gears via the steering-mounted paddles.
The XS also has an “X-Mode” that, together with 220 mm of ground clearance, uses the central and rear diffs to get up and down steep, low-grip terrain.
Fuel economy isn’t exactly a strong point with the Forester and the CVT gearbox does help mitigate that somewhat. Boxer engines do take a while to loosen up and there has been a marked improvement in fuel economy after 5 000km with trip computer shown an improvement from 11L/100km down to the 10L/100km it’s currently displaying. On a recent 3 000 km jaunt from Cape Town to KZN and back, the car averaged 9,5 10L/100km travelling at 120km for most of the way. And on my morning commute, if I consciously drive with a light foot and keep the stop/start function switched on, I can manage to get it close to 9,0 litres/100km.
So far then, all in all, it’s been a case of a big thumbs to this Germa… sorry… Japanese SUV.
Mileage on arrival (km): 490
Mileage at update (km): 9 820
Fuel Consumption (litres/100km): 10,0
We like: Practicality, high spec, comfort, gravel road handling…. Just plain ease of use.
We don’t like: Fuel economy can climb if you don’t consciously drive with a light foot