Subaru Forester – Review
by Liam Bird
First, I should apologise. What you should be reading right now is a review of Subaru’s BRZ, their new 2-seater, rear-wheel drive sports-car that bares more than just a passing resemblance to Toyota’s GT86.
However, because a man called Mr J Clarkson called Subaru’s press office and asked if he could have the BRZ instead – apparently he does something on the telly – my booking was decided to be far less important. Mr Clarkson got the sports-car; I got Subaru’s Forester instead. I am sorry. Yes, I too was more than a little disappointed. Instead of the week full of the driving thrills I’d envisaged, I was now facing 5 days driving a diesel powered station wagon on stilts. Oh yippee.
Then, of course, it snowed. Did I mention the Forester had permanent four-wheel drive? On the very evening the Forester arrived the British weathermen went into metaphorical overdrive. Arctic onslaughts were promised; Siberian winds too. Temperatures were going to plummet: oh how would London get to work in the morning? Out here in the sticks however, the white stuff (there’s more technical weatherman terminology) was beginning to fall.
“Straight and true”
It’s funny how you look at a car differently when you wake up in the morning and the road outside your window is six inches below the surface of early morning snow. Suddenly what you considered previously as an “ungainly stance” becomes “useful ground clearance”. An interior full of hard shiny plastics instantly becomes “practical and easier to clean”; the noisy heater fan redeems itself in becoming an effective demister, and what felt last night like a sluggish feeling diesel engine reveals itself to be a lazy, torquey power-plant.
The Forrester, a car which I have to admit, I’ve always considered being a bit of an ugly duckling, come winter time, turns out to be more of a swan. As Fiestas floundered and 3 series BMWs slid sideways towards the curb, I and the Forester soldiered on. Even when I planted my foot hard on the accelerator in a deliberate bid to try and get Subaru’s almost Freelander-sized estate out of shape, with little more than a flash of the traction control light our course remained straight and true.
As other drivers decided the best plan of action was to “work from home” I looked for more and more reasons to spend time behind the wheel. It wasn’t long before my friends picked-up on this, of course. “Is that a 4×4? Do you think you’d be able to give me a lift to the shops, the stables, the hair-dresser, the….” you-name-it-they-asked. I could have sold tickets. But the truth is I was just happy driving around in the snow.
“Unassuming and hugely capacious”
Suddenly Subaru’s trademark knuckly-feeling gear change didn’t seem to matter, nor too did the dated dashboard. Even the positioning of the heated-seat switches didn’t seem to bother me so much – why, Subaru, do they have to be hidden on the transmission tunnel almost out of view behind the driver? All I cared was that they once on, those seat warmers stayed on.
With The Forester’s cavernous boot swallowing everything from my mother’s weekly shop, to my neighbour’s horse-feed, water-proofs and Wellingtons, toasty and warm I happily morphed in to my new found role of as chauffeur to the snow bound.
So would I recommend the Forester? Well, it’s as simple as this. For most of the year it’s a practical, unassuming and hugely capacious load-lugger with a characterful flat-four diesel engine, and slightly roly-poly ride: it will no doubt serve you well. When it snows however, you’ll love it to pieces.
Subaru Forester 2.0 D XD NAVPLUS
Engine: 1998cc, flat 4 Turbodiesel
Power: 147 BHP @ 3600rpm
Torque: 258lbft @ 1800 – 2400rpm
Transmission: 6 speed manual. Four Wheel Drive.
Performance: 0-62mph 10.4 sec
Max Speed: 116 mph
MPG: 47.9 Combined
VED: Band G