The Wheel Deal

Fixing you up with life in the fast lane.
Posted: March 7th, 2013 | By Thomas Falkiner

The fourth-generation Subaru Forester has arrived in SA. The Wheel Deal took it for a drive

What is it?

Put your hands together for the new fourth-generation Forester. Arguably one of Subaru South Africa’s most popular models, this pioneering SUV now offers local customers heightened levels of refinement and drivability. Keen to the fact that the Forester rolls in family circles, Fuji Heavy Industries has also made the interior more accommodating.

With more shoulder, elbow and legroom than ever before, Forester version 4.0 is now the most spacious SUV in its class, effectively outgunning rivals such as the Honda CRV and Volkswagen Tiguan. You will also notice a hike in cabin build quality thanks to the use of more tactile materials like soft-touch plastics. There is now a premium air to the Forester that has long been lacking.

How does it look?

Not particularly exciting if I’m being honest. But then I guess that the Forester has never been known for bucking any automotive design trends. Still, this sensible approach gives you a fairly good-looking machine that steals a few styling cues from the current Subaru XV. SUV generic in profile, the front makes a slightly bolder statement thanks to that all-new grille, apron and headlight design. Range-topping turbo models also score a wider radiator intake and two-tone 18-inch alloy wheels. Basically this is a hard car to love but at the same time, a difficult car to dislike either.

What is it like to drive?

Subaru has spent a lot of time honing this car’s dynamics and it shows. Due to a lower centre of gravity and a far more rigid body structure, the new Forester generally feels a lot crisper from a handling point of view. It also rides better too, absorbing the hard knocks of Johannesburg road life better its predecessor did. In terms of powerplants, three engines are offered at the moment.

Go the normally aspirated route and you can pick either a 2.0 or 2.5-litre boxer four. The former comes paired to a six-cylinder manual ‘box while the latter is available only with Subaru’s Lineartronic CVT. Fortunately it works rather well, being relatively quiet and allowing you to rev all the way up to the redline should you wish. This transmission also makes a solo appearance in the 177kW 2.0-litre Turbo that offers plenty of straight-line punch and lowdown tractability.

Any special features?

A standout feature of the new Forester is something called X-Mode: a special electronic driver aid that changes the characteristics of the throttle, traction and hill-descent control to better suit off-road driving conditions. Used in conjunction with the fulltime symmetrical all-wheel-drive system, I was impressed at how much more bite it gave the car across slippery, low-traction surfaces. Sorry manual fans, it only comes standard on models equipped with the Lineartronic CVT transmission.

Should I buy one?

I can’t think of a reason why you wouldn’t. The Forester has always been a safe choice and this fourth-generation model is certainly no different. In the past you could have criticized its lackluster cabin finish but this, thankfully, is no longer the case. In fact the only thing that seems to count against this new Subaru is the lack of a diesel engine derivative. Well at the moment anyway. Good to drive, well specced and capable across a myriad of different terrains, you’ll struggle to find a more sorted SUV.

The Facts: Subaru Forester

Engine: 1995cc (2.0 X manual); 2498cc (2.5 X, XS, XS Premium CVT); 1998cc (2.0 XT Turbo CVT)

Power: 110kW at 6200rpm (2.0 X manual); 126kW at 5800rpm (2.5 X, XS, XS Premium CVT); 177kW at 5600rpm (2.0 XT Turbo CVT)

Torque: 198Nm at 4200rpm (2.0 X manual); 235Nm at 4100rpm (2.5 X, XS, XS Premium CVT); 350Nm at 2400-3600rpm (2.0 XT Turbo CVT)

0-100km/h: 10.6-seconds (2.0 X manual); 9.9-seconds (2.5 X, XS, XS Premium CVT); 7.5-seconds (2.0 XT Turbo CVT)

Top Speed: 190km/h (2.0 X manual); 196km/h (2.5 X, XS, XS Premium CVT); 210km/h (2.0 XT Turbo CVT)

Fuel Consumption: 7.2l/100k (2.0 X manual); 8.1l/100km (2.5 X, XS, XS Premium CVT); 8.5l/100km (2.0 XT Turbo CVT)

CO2: 168g/km (2.0 X manual); 187g/km (2.5 X, XS, XS Premium CVT); 197g/km (2.0 XT Turbo CVT)

Price: R329 000 (2.0 X manual); R359 000 (2.5 X CVT); R389 000 (2.5 XS CVT); R429 000 (XS Premium CVT); R529 000 (2.0 XT Turbo CVT)

We like:

Interior feels much improved

Strong performer both on and off road

Spacious and well-appointed

We Don’t:

Not the most exciting to look at

No manual gearbox option with Turbo

No diesel derivative offered at launch

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