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Review: The Subaru Forester doesn't look like much - but you might fall for its rugged charms

We test drive the latest iteration of the Subaru Forester SUV.

MUCH LIKE SHANIA Twain, when I first saw the Subaru Forester I thought “that don’t impress me much”. However, once I sat inside the SUV and got it out on the road, I began to fall for its rugged charms.

In terms of styling the Subaru Forester puts function ahead of form. It’s not as stylish as some of its competitors but then again, I’d always choose function over form especially when it comes to a family car.

When you use the Forester everyday you really do appreciate how functional and practical it is. Let’s take the boot for example. It holds 505 litres with all seats in place and can expand to 1,573 litres with the seats tumbled. While it’s not the biggest in class, it is very user-friendly with an electronic tailgate (available on certain trims), low loading lip, wide aperture and rubber boot mat.

Source: Dave Humphreys

There is useful storage too with large door bins, a deep centre console cubby, decent sized glovebox, and space under the infotainment system for a phone.

Space in the back is great and the rear bench is nice and flat and wide and very comfortable, too. Unlike some of its rivals the rear seats don’t slide or recline – but there is plenty of leg, head and shoulder room for three people back there.

Source: Dave Humphreys

In fact the whole cabin is really roomy and thanks to the panoramic sunroof (available on certain trims) there is a feeling of light and spaciousness which adds a pleasant atmosphere to the interior. I was really impressed with just how much space there is in the Forester. Perfect if you have a growing family.

The cabin is laid out really well. Everything felt very sturdy and well screwed together and the materials were of good quality. What it did lack was a certain polish or luxe feel – but then again, the cabin was just so spacious and functional that this didn’t bother me at all.

Source: Dave Humphreys

As daily driver, the visibility is wonderful all around so it is perfect for city and town driving and thanks to its high driving position and large windows parking the Forester and manoeuvring in and out of tight spaces is rather easy.

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Source: Dave Humphreys

Powering the Forester is the latest version of Subaru’s 2.0-litre petrol engine. The boxer layout helps to keep most of the mass low down in the engine bay, and this reflects in the positive feel from the steering. Turn in is quick and throughout a variety of situations, the steering has a good, mechanical feel to it.

The engine doesn’t have masses of power, with a maximum output of 150hp and 198Nm of torque, but it feels adequate for pulling the roomy SUV along at a healthy pace. All petrol engines come with the Lineartronic CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission).

Source: Dave Humphreys

Usually, CVT units are awful and tend to do little else than send engines into high revs without any relation to forward momentum. Subaru’s new unit uses a chain rather than a belt, and along with some software, tuning results in an effort that’s not bad.

You do need to adjust your driving style to suit it, but then providing you are more conservative with your throttle inputs, it all works reasonably well.

The suspension setup can cope with tackling some real off-road stuff, with approach and departure angles that are among the best in the segment. A 220mm clearance also helps if you end up in the ruts. On the road, it can feel busy on certain surfaces, but most will find it quite comfortable.

Source: Dave Humphreys

Overall, whilst the Subaru Forester may not impress in the looks department, it is a very accomplished machine that gets the job done and gets it done well without much fanciness. It is a proper rugged go-anywhere workhorse but one that is family-friendly and comfortable to drive. If you are in the market for a five-seat SUV that is spacious, safe, and reliable you really should put the Subaru Forester on your shopping list.

The Subaru Forest is offered with two engines and is priced from €36,995 for the 147hp 2.0-litre diesel X model with six-speed manual transmission and €37,995 for the 150hp naturally-aspirated 2.0-litre petrol engine with Lineartronic automatic gearbox. The Lineartronic gearbox can also be mated to the diesel engine.

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About the author:

Melanie May  / https://www.melaniemay.com

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