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Subaru Forester 2.0 XT Review

POSTED BY Mick Chan ON 18 January 2013

At the launch of the latest Subaru Forester in Taiwan, the naturally aspirated 2.0-litre and turbocharged, direct-injection 2.0-litre models were available for sampling. It was the forced induction XT model that we tested.

Now in its fourth generation, the Subaru Forester continues to be powered by the marque’s signature boxer-four engine, mated to a continuously variable transmission.

The latest Forester cuts a silhouette similar to the previous model’s shape, but with added visual muscle for the latest iteration. A more well-defined set of creases along the bodywork give the Forester a bolder and more imposing look.

Inside, occupants will find a dashboard fascia very similar, if not identical to the one found in its sister model the XV, which is reasonably well laid out, if slightly plain. Main instrumentation is clear and concise, and the centre console takes a straightforward layout, however the cluster of buttons on the steering wheel may be cluttered to some.

The main controls such as the steering wheel and pedals are positioned well, while the driver’s seat and steering column provide a range of adjustment wide enough to accommodate drivers of most shapes and sizes. The front seats are plush, although slightly lacking in lateral support for enthusiastic cornering.

The mostly uninterrupted view afforded by the glasshouse gives the cabin an airy feel, doubtless aided by a full-length sunroof, along with metal-look trim panels throughout the interior that further lift the ambience. Occupants are well accomodated in the Forester, with comfortable seating for four. The centre cushion in the rear passenger compartment is surprisingly comfortable, although ultimately it isn’t as cossetting as the other seats.

During our time with the Forester in the confines of a closed-course circuit, the new SUV – in Subaru’s eyes the crossover role is now assumed by the XV – appeared to be a pleasant and mildly sporty drive.

Its straight-line performance is strong for this category of family wagon, and the CVT transmits the engine’s output to the road quite responsively for a transmission of its kind, with less of the initial delay usually associated with continuously variable transmission gearboxes.

The flat closed course used for sampling the Forester was hardly a gruelling test of the vehicles’ chassis. However, the SUV did demonstrate sufficient resistance to pitch and roll during braking and lane change manoeuvres, which bodes well for everyday driving scenarios. The brakes themselves were strong, with a reassuring feel underfoot.

Subaru’s X-Mode system which controls the Forester’s powertrain was demonstrated courtesy of man-made obstacles, where the Forester displayed its ability to cope with adverse surface conditions. On the ramps designed to give the vehicles’ tractive abilities a workout, the Forester appeared to cope reasonably well with little to moderate wheelspin, especially alongside a Volkswagen Tiguan which was also present for comparison purposes.

The Tiguan is expected to be the Forester’s closest rival too, as Subaru says the Forester 2.0 XT was benchmarked against this German counterpart during its developmental stages in key areas such as on-road ride, handling and refinement. Unsurprising then, that it will also be priced close to RM200,000 when its exact pricing is announced.

Subaru pitches the latest Forester as a comfortable, stress-free and fun-to-drive SUV. From this initial experience with the turbocharged 2.0 XT model it seems the marque has delivered on the first two counts. Judgement has to be reserved on its fun-to-drive factor, however, given the limited time and range of road conditions covered at this first acquaintance. As it stands the Forester is a package well executed enough to make it a pleasant daily drive.

Specifications of the Subaru Forester 2.0 XT

Engine: 2.0-litre horizontally opposed 4-cylinder, turbocharged direct injection
Max power: 240 hp
Max torque: 350 Nm
Combined fuel economy: 8.5L/100km
Transmission: Continuously variable transmission, all wheel drive
Safety features: ESP, EBD, traction control
Price: To be confirmed

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