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Forester a match for any hot hatch


WHEN someone mentions the word ‘Subaru’ around the braai, conversation normally turns to the legendary WRX STI. To us petrolheads, it’s the car that defines Scooby.

That’s good news for the STI brand, but not for the other models Subaru sells in South Africa. The STI casts a massive shadow, leaving the Legacy, XV, Outback and Tribeca forgotten and unloved in the dark.

I know I’m guilty of this too. Whenever I test a car, I compare it to its main competitors and if a Subaru is part of this list, I tend to forget it. Scoobys are definitely not mainstream cars, but then again, that’s part of their appeal.
I doubt if I’ll ever forget Subaru again after testing two of their latest models. The Forester surprised me, but the BRZ blew my mind. To find out why, tune in again next week.

For now we’ll focus on the all-new Forester, although you wouldn’t say that by looking at it. To my eyes, it looks more or less the same as the previous model, which is by no means a bad thing, as it looks the part of an SUV. It’s a robust, elegant and timeless design that suits its purpose very well.

On the inside there are no issues worth reporting. You sit nice and high as one does in an SUV and all the major controls are easy to reach. The choice of materials is superb and NVH levels are up there with the best in the segment.

The Forester makes the driving experience very comfortable for the driver and passengers. There’s a generous amount of space and infotainment technology on the inside and, thanks to a 220mm ground clearance and symmetrical all-wheel-drive, you can enjoy all of this off the beaten track as well. In addition, the Forester was awarded the full five stars by Euro NCAP, making it a worthy addition to any adventurous South 
African family’s garage.

As an SUV, the Forester is very good, but it’s not a one-trick pony. It does the boring school-run part very well, but it gets even better once the kids are safely inside the school grounds and you finally have some time alone to explore the dark side of this Subaru.


The model I drove, the 2.0-litre XT Lineartronic, is powered by a turbocharged flat-four petrol engine with 177kW and 350Nm on tap.  The 0-100km/h dash is completed in just 7.5 seconds and it tops out at 210km/h. Grip levels are excellent thanks to the aforementioned all-wheel-drive and a low centre of gravity gives you the confidence to 
chuck it into a corner when the mood strikes.

Despite this impressive turn of speed, fuel economy remains acceptable thanks to a CVT transmisson that actually does what it says on the box without being overly annoying. When you’re not embarrassing hot hatches, it does a decent job of keeping the Forester on the go without using an inordinate amount of petrol.

In XT guise, the Forester also looks the part of a hot hatch on stilts. As standard you get dual-tone 18-inch alloys and a sporty front bumper with chrome inserts, if only to warn other road users that they might be facing a gut-wrenching humiliation 
should they decide to take you on.


Retailing at R529 900, it’s not the cheapest car around, but it does have a wide rangeof talents that will keep the entire family smiling. Dad’s happy because his SUV is fun to drive and Mom’s happy because her kids are safe and she doesn’t have to explain to her friends why her husband’s car has gold wheels. Everybody wins with the Subaru Forester.

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