We were privileged to be one of the first to take the brand new and improved range of Foresters out for a test.
The day started early for some of us, but all were maybe a little over excited. I, for one, have been looking forward to the new car for some time and to be honest it was worth the wait.
The new range, comprising of 3 models, namely the 2.0, the original 2.5 and the new 2.0 direct Injection Turbo. The latter is obviously the crème of the crop and we were all very excited for this model as you could understand, because Subaru has always been synonymous with petrol heads, who love turbo engines.
From a driving point of view the new Forester is a better car than the one which it replaces. The new FA and FB engines no longer use the timing belts and have moved over to the timing chains, which should essentially be a lifetime part. Furthermore the new cars all offer a similar spec with the exception of the 2.0X which is available only in manual and lacks the nifty new X Mode feature.
For those of you wondering about the X Mode, it’s basically an advanced traction control mode which also offers an intelligent downhill assist mode that is actually controlled with the brakes. We had the opportunity to test this on the Nirox nature reserve and I can assure you that it works very well.
The 2.5 is available in 3 specced models; the 2.5X, 2.5XS lineartronic CVT and the 2.5XS lineartronic CVT Premium. All offering an identically speced interior, with *keyless entry, push button start and stop/start*, minus the electric leather seats, HID headlights and the big sunroof for the premium models. The 2.5X also has steel 17inch wheels, as opposed to alloy wheels on the XS. – *XS and XT models
The 2.0XT features a direct injection turbo engine producing 177kw and 350nm. The engine is refined and with the help of the CVT gearbox and has great torque available everywhere. It is also the top of the range model so, naturally, it’s fitted with all the goodies including leather seats, HID, a sunroof and gorgeous new 18inh wheels.
On the interior side, all models have the multi-function display and offers, Bluetooth and usb support, playing through 6 speakers.
All 2.5 models features the SI drive, which is Subaru’s intelligent driving modes, which alters the throttle sensitivity. On the XT, the mode makes the most difference where you can really feel the extra throttle input and throttle sharpness.
From a safety point, the vehicle is now an improved NCAP 5 and ANCAP 5 vehicle with 7 airbags. The Forester also has new and improved electronically-aided devices including Electronic Stability Control, Anti-Lock Braking, Traction Control System, Electronic Brake Force Distribution, Torque Limited Slip Device and Brake Assist.
The Forester also offers a class-leading ground clearance of 220mm, nearly 20mm higher than that of its closes competitor. This really gives an advantage to the lifestyle owner, who often likes to head away from the tar road.
Gravel road driving is where the Forester comes into its element. The symmetrical all-wheel drive keeps the car planted and, with all the electronic devices, that will intervene if you should do something wrong, and the car will simply just straighten itself out. We also tested the brakes doing a full 100km/h – 0 emergency brake test on gravel and I was surprised, to say the least, that the car had very little ABS brake interference; the car just came to a stop quickly.
The ride quality is what the new Forester really has got going for it. It’s smooth, composed on all surfaces and even at speeds that you wouldn’t normally do on badly corrugated roads, the Forester just soaks it all up, giving a safe, smooth and comfortable ride for its occupants.
Models and pricing
2.0X R329 000
2.5X CVT R359 000
2.5XS CVT R389 000
2.5XS Premium CVT R429 000
2.0XT R529 000
All models come standard with a 3 year / 75 000km maintenance plan. For more info, www.subaru.co.za