While the technology and engineering put into the Forester have improved with every new model, the one’s design is not a radical departure from its predecessor’s. It is, however, a necessary evolution, with the car now looking more in tune with its competitors.
The new vehicle is larger than the one it replaces, but doesn’t appear so in the metal. It looks lower and more squat than its competitors, with squared-off styling in the front and rear.
Two distinctive looks differentiate the top-of-the-range XT model from the rest. The flagship XT is the only turbocharged model in the range at the moment and receives a Gundam lower facia in the front and 18-inch two-tone alloy wheels, which give it a more muscular appearance. Enthusiasts will be sad to hear that the large bonnet scoop that featured on previous models is gone in the quest for better fuel consumption and reduced drag.
The interior has also received revisions, with an overall improvement in the vehicle’s tangible quality. Standard features include keyless entry, push start, a powered rear tailgate, auto headlamps and rain sensors. Another standard feature is a 4.3-inch colour multi-functional infotainment system with reverse camera. The interior also now features class-leading shoulder-, elbow- and leg room.
In terms of safety, the new Forester has a high-strength ring-shaped passenger safety cell, as well as seven airbags that yielded five-star Euro NCAP-, ANCAP- and JNCAP ratings.
One of the biggest issues that plagued previous-generation Foresters was their relentless thirst at the pumps. Subaru made this one of their priorities with the new model by improving the vehicle’s aerodynamics and making their famous burbly Boxer engines more efficient.
Fuel consumption for the 2.0-litre manual is now a claimed 7.8 litres/100km and 8.5 liters/100km for the 2.5-litre. The consumption figure for the 2.0-litre turbocharged XT model is 8.1 litres/100km.
The efficiency comes courtesy of a low 0.33 drag coefficient and newly designed engines that have been optimised for economy. Another fuel-saving measure comes in the form of the Lineartronic CVT transmission and automatic stop/start system.
The CVT gearbox in the car doesn’t match the sporty character of the range-topping XT, even in eight-speed manual mode. It works well in the rest of the range, especially with the SI-DRIVE system that allows the driver to adjust the gearbox to their driving style.
The XT model features a 2.0-litre direct-injection turbocharged motor that produces 177kW of power and 350Nm of torque and propels the Forester from 0-100 km/h in a claimed 7.5 seconds.
The naturally aspirated engines in the line-up include a base model with a manual gearbox and the same 2.0-litre motor found in the BRZ sports car.
The unit has been detuned and produces 110kW and 198Nm that is good for a 10.6-second dash to 100km/h.
The 2.5-litre engine produces a healthy 126kW and 235Nm and cuts the 0-100km/h
time to 9.9 seconds. All the engines in the range feel lively and produce decent mid-range torque that is made possible by the Boxer engine layout, which means the engine is placed horizontally and allows the Forester to keep its centre of gravity low.
This meant that the twisty roads and gravel trails we tackled on the launch were not a problem, with the car feeling as comfortable off-road as it does powering through a picturesque mountain pass.
When the vehicle is placed in difficult conditions - such as we experienced on an off-road course during the Forester’s launch - Subaru’s new X-mode came into use.
When enabled, this system will use the symmetrical all-wheel-drive system, throttle, brakes, centre differential and the vehicle’s traction-control system to control descents in steep areas or those with poor grip.
The new Forester should prove difficult to beat in its segment. Its all-round ability both on- and off the road will make it the pick of its segment once again.
All Forester models come with a 3-year/75 000km maintenance plan, as well as a 3-year/100 000km warranty with Subaru Assist.