I think even the most loyal Subaru Forester driver will admit this SUV with its scrunched-up nose is not the best looking in its segment, nor is it the fastest, or the most well-equipped, but after eleven months with the car, “more than the sum of its parts” would be the best way I could describe the Forester.
It perform all the functions required of a vehicle in this market segment with a no-nonsense, pragmatic attitude that reflects in everything from its interior spec to the functional aesthetics of the exterior design. It’s these qualities that have historically made the Forester a slightly alternative choice for adventure orientated families and individuals.
Among the host of new models we drive each month, the Forester has become not only my go-to vehicle for family getaway and mountain biking adventures, but in its tenure it’s been often used as a photography tracking vehicle on our CAR editorial shoots. And those two facts tell you a lot about this car.
As a family vehicle it’s proved ideal with a spacious interior that’s a good balance between hardwearing ruggedness and comfort. It’s ferried muddy kids and even muddier cyclists around large parts of the country without scruffing up in the slightest.
Its large boot space (288 dm3), the rear hatch’s wide aperture and the suspension’s compliant ride had practical benefits for our photography team too, and many of the vehicle tracking pics your see in CAR have been taken by someone hanging out the back of the Forester’s hatch
It’s a car that has only improved with age too – it’s fuel consumption has improved considerably. It’s a characteristic of boxer engines that they loosen up after 5 000 – 8 000 km and since that milestone I’ve noticed increasingly better mileage. A commute that used to record 12 L/100 km is now consistently around 8,5 L/100 km and cruising on the highway between 110 km/h – 120 km/h will regularly return a figure of 7,8 L/100km.
I’ve even liked the CVT gearbox, which is a first for me. It’s not the ideal transmission for spirited driving or for quick overtaking (feels as if it’s throttling the engine under acceleration), but during a commute and long road trips it makes for a very easy and relaxing drive.
What’s really impressed has been the Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive system (it electronically manages the power needed by each individual wheel for optimum grip). The set-up inspires confidence, particularly on gravel where levels of grip and nimble driving dynamics have encouraged some spirited driving.
With us, the Subaru has not missed a beat. Apart from a driver-error incident that cracked the front bumper (speedily fixed by the Subaru dealership), the Forester has ferried family, luggage, mountain bikes and accompanying kit around large parts of South Africa.
Recently it went in for its first service at the Subaru dealership in Cape Town this past month. I dropped it off in the morning (and was offered a courtesy car) and by that afternoon I was phoned to say the car was ready for collection. So no complaints on that front either.
After 12 months
Mileage: 16 654 km
Fuel comsumption: 9,10 L/100km
We like: Improved fuel economy
We don’t like: CVT transmission blunts performance