Recently I was invited on a car treasure hunt, you know, one of those events where you follow clues and solve riddles whilst meandering your way around, all the time having arguments with your navigator. Anyway, it’s been many a year since I’ve been on one, and these days I’m broader in several places, heavier too but also wiser and safer to drive with. Which brings me neatly to the new Subaru Forester.
The Foz or Fozzie as it’s affectionately known to the Subaru community, has taken a step in a new direction with this latest incarnation. It’s a ‘mainstream’ step certainly and as with the new Impreza, opinions on looks will be divided for some time. The very first Forester was a traditional wagon looking affair, being relatively boxy but quite unique, forming a cult following here in NZ. The second Foz was a little bigger but very much from the same mould.
Now much more of a grown-up, the new Forester boasts 20mm more ground clearance (now 120mm), height is also up by a whopping 110mm, length by 75mm, width by 45mm, wheelbase by 90mm and it now tips the scales some 70kg heavier. Being wiser too it now stops 7m sooner under emergency braking, packs a massive 63 additional litres of luggage capacity (total 450l), has 6 airbags, a 5 star ANCAP rating, Datadot security, a high/low range for extra self-control and a viscous limited slip diff’ to help get a grip.
Jumping into the Forester and heading off on the treasure hunt was surprisingly easy, with no nasty surprises. The interior is a bit of a gem, being comfortable, pleasantly tactile, easy on the eye and requiring very little discovery or consultation with the guide to operate. One nugget of information not represented in the usual fashion was the engine temp gauge, now making do with a warning light.
Whilst tackling the stop, start, u-turn, reverse, double-back nature of the event it’s clear the ride and driving sensitivities are definitely more BMW X5 firm and sporty than say Honda’s CR-V or Toyota’s RAV4 soft-roaders. The braking, damping and steering feel gives just enough feedback and connection to the road – well as much as you can in a high-rider anyway.
The 2.5 flat-four boxer engine produces an adequate 129Kw at 6000rpm and 229Nm at 3200rpm, and only feels like it’s really making progress above 4500rpm. At speed you get a glimpse of gold in that the Impreza-derived chassis does reveal itself occasionally. Economy is not bad at 9.3L/100km especially considering the engine capacity, weight and permanent 4wd being punted.
In summary, it’s a capable and comfortable vehicle offering some sporting heritage for not too much cash. Easy to use and easy to drive, the manual is the one to go for, giving you a $1000 saving to add to your pot of gold. One small niggle may remain however, and that is the divided question of looks. The new Forester isn’t a case of ‘one man’s trash, another man’s treasure’ — I found that X really does mark the spot in the Forester.
Click through to the next page for full specs on the Subaru Forester X
Price: from $36,990 for manual ($37,990 for Auto)
What we like:
- Easy to use, spacious and comfortable interior
- Decent handling (for an SUV)
- Safety features
What we don’t like:
- Exterior design has some weirdness — wheel arch creases, for example
- Too easy to grab the high/low ratio lever instead of the handbrake
- Centre cupholder is awkwardly positioned
Words Phil Clark, photos Roelien Du Plessis
|Dimensions & Weight||5MT||4AT SS|
|Overall length (mm)||4560||4560|
|Overall width (mm)||1780||1780|
|Overall height with roof bars (mm)||1700||1700|
|Wheel base (mm)||2615||2615|
|Front track (mm)||1530||1530|
|Rear track (mm)||1530||1530|
|Min. ground clearance* (mm)||220||220|
|Boot capacity (rear seat up/down) (litres)||450/1660||450/1660|
|Unladen mass (kg)||1465||1480|
|Engine and Performance|
|Type||Horizontally-opposed 4-cylinder SOHC with Variable Valve Lift (VVL)|
|Bore x stroke (mm)||99.5 x 79.0||99.5 x 79.0|
|Fuel tank capacity (litres)||64||64|
|Minimum Fuel octane rating requirement (RON)||91||91|
|Fuel System||Multi-point sequential injection||Multi-point sequential injection|
|Maximum output (kW/rpm)||126/6000||126/6000|
|Maximum torque (Nm/rpm)||229/3200||229/3200|
|CO2 emissions (ADR81/01)** (gm/km)||220||227|
|Fuel consumption (ADR81/01) (1/100km)||9.3||9.6|
|Transmission type||Manual||SPORTSHIFT** Automatic|
|Dual range reduction ratio||1.196||-|
|Final reduction gear ratio||4.111||4.444|
|Steering||Engine speed sensitive power assisted rack and pinion|
|SuspensionFront||MacPherson strut type, independent suspension|
|Suspension – Rear||Double wishbone type, independent suspension|
|Brakes – Front||Ventilated discs|
|Brakes – Rear||Discs|
|Tyres (steel belted radial, tubeless)||215/65 R16 98H|
|Minimum turning circle curb to curb (m)||10.5||10.5|
|With brakes (kg)||1400||1400|
|Without brakes (kg)||720||720|
|Max. Tow ball download (kg)||110||110|