IT IS holiday season, so what better time to review a vehicle which will prove ideal for workaday commuting and a much-needed vacation?
Not only that, but the Subaru Forester 2.0 diesel also offers a superb handling and safety package, and exceptional fuel economy for a vehicle of its size, and some degree of performance to boot.
The past week has seen us doing some extensive “real world” testing on the Forester, and despite a few little niggles, it has proven to be popular among everyone who has been in it. Passengers have been impressed with not only the ride, but the space available and the comfort features – leather seats, climate control, and a gargantuan sun roof.
From a driver’s point of view, the handling and safety are a huge plus-point, as we discovered by accident. During our standard test route drive with our guest reviewer, Sarel van der Merwe, we had the opportunity to witness the best and worst of local driving.
The worst was the gentleman in the large truck, towing a large trailer, who decided that despite our brisk approach, he was free to pull out of the side road into our path… the best came when Sarel brought the Forester to a near stop without any drama, as all of the Forester’s safety features and roadholding technology kicked in. Sarel described it as a “non-event”, though it was a timely reminder that with some of the idiots on our roads, investing in a car able to handle the unpredictable could be a life-saving decision.
Styling-wise, the Forester may not be everyone’s cup of tea, as despite a recent facelift, it still has a square and “too tall” look from some angles. From the driver’s seat, though, the large glasshouse makes for excellent all-round visibility, as does the high driving position.
The interior, which comfortably seats five adults, and which features a large luggage area with 60/40 folding seat option to boost capacity if needed – makes this a capable vacation vehicle, especially given the diesel engine’s frugality on the open road.
The dashboard is well laid out, with the controls falling to hand easily, and while it may not be as visually appealing as some vehicles, it is another example of Subaru’s function-before-form approach to design.
Because the 2-litre turbo diesel engine is a boxer configuration – the pistons move in a horizontal plain, with each pair of pistons moving simultaneously in and out rather than alternately, like boxers showing clashing their fists against each other before a fight – the Forester has a low centre of gravity and this is evident in the stability and control feedback.
The permanent all-wheel drive system gives the driver confidence when dealing with adverse road conditions, and through the bends.
The engine itself – the first diesel boxer production engine – proved very smooth, especially at freeway speeds.
The six-speed box is smooth, and with the torque available from low down in the rev range, changes up to the higher gears can be made very early. One bugbear, however, is the second-gear ratio, which seems a tad long, and led to a few stalls.
Despite some vigorous driving, as well as a few spells in commuter traffic, the Forester recorded a litres-per-100km figure in the low eights, while emissions are just 168g/km.
On the whole, the Forester is an impressive package.
Subaru Forester 2.0D |Premium
R429 000 (as tested).
3 year/100 000km warranty
3 year/60000 km maintenance plan