The Forester is certainly a drivers car, but may not come out tops against other vehicles in the market.
The Forester is certainly a drivers car, but may not come out tops against other vehicles in the market.
Sarel van der Merwe
Sarel van der Merwe

“I like the gearbox, the suspension, and the handling – all standard Subaru stuff, and throughout their range that has always been the nice part of the vehicle. They are renowned for excellent directional stability, braking and handling, because of the tried and tested all-wheel drive system.

“It is no surprise that everyone who has a Subaru is happy with it.

“But when it comes to my dislikes, I have to say I have an issue with the build quality. On all of their models there always seem to be rattles. Compared with other Japanese and Korean vehicles, the build quality falls short. And in some ways Subaru get away with it because they are perceived as performance cars.

“For the same price as the ‘sporty’ Pajero, it is a nicer vehicle to drive around but it is more expensive than the Kia Sorento, and there’s better value for money in the Kia. Okay, you aren’t getting the sporty heritage, but anyone who is – essentially – buying a station wagon isn’t concerned with sports heritage.

“It is a nice car, and certainly a drivers’ car, but if you have to see what else is on the market, it may not come out tops. Space wise, other vehicles have more to offer.

“Mechanically, though, I’m 100 percent convinced it is a good vehicle, especially when you look at what Subaru has done before, in rallies and with other competition vehicles.

“Again, it is just that the build quality for the body doesn’t quite cut it. On any Subaru, you’ll find little irritating rattles. I’m sure it is not going to make the car stop or fall apart, but to drive it would drive me insane. The panels are very light, and it feels like a cheap build.

“I’m not knocking anyone who wants to buy one, but if I had to choose, the quality issues would definitely put me off.

“Aesthetically, it looks nice. I’ve always liked Subaru’s styling, except on the hatchbacks. It has good ground clearance, it handles well, it has a very nice engine with good torque that comes in just about 2 000rpm. It has very good performance for a diesel.

“A diesel engine hardly ever goes past 4 000rpm – you are wasting your time pushing past 3 500 – which is normally past where you get the maximum power and torque because before then, the next gear is ready to take over, so you don’t have to rev it up like a normal car. And that definitely helps with fuel economy.

“Our ‘panic stop’ was a non-event; the Forester stops in a straight line and does exactly what you want it to do in the circumstances.

“The permanent all-wheel drive is a wonderful system – and a helluva safety feature, all cars should be like that – and buyers should consider that is worth more than some of the other extras they are prepared to pay for.

“Some other vehicles have four-wheel drive which kicks in only when it is needed – so that doesn’t count as a safety feature, because the permanent system gives better braking, better handling, better everything, especially with the extra braking effect it has on all the wheels.”