The Subaru Forester has become the family go-to car, writes Graham Smith
SUBARU’S Forester was at the head of the pack during the SUV stampede 10 years ago, and the latest model sought to build on the huge success by pushing for market leadership.
The light SUV has become the go-to car for families looking for flexible transport to haul kids to school or sporting events, handle the regular motoring chores and the occasional weekend away.
The market for light SUVs has become one of the most crowded and competitive segments on the local scene along the way, and the new Forester was pitted against other hugely popular models such as the Nissan X-Trail, Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4.
THE Forester is based on the Subaru Impreza passenger car, so the release of a new Impreza heightened anticipation of a new Forester— which was larger, fresher and more affordable when it landed.
It looked more like a serious fourwheel drive. It was 110mm taller, 60mm wider and 75mm longer, and the wheelbase was 90mm longer.
The increased size was great news for owners because it delivered more room for rear passengers and more luggage space.
Overhangs were shortened and ground clearance increased to improve manoeuvrability.
Power for the regular X and XS came from a 2.5-litre boxer four that had more power and torque, while the XT had a turbocharged version that was unchanged. The 2.5-litre gave 126kW at 6000 revs and 229Nm at 4400 revs at its twin peaks, enough to make it a lively drive.
The turbo, meanwhile, delivered 169kW at 5200 revs and 320Nm at 2800 revs, which made the XT even livelier.
Buyers could choose between a four-speed automatic transmission and a five-speed manual, which featured low-range gearing. As with all Subarus the drive went to all four wheels, varying from 95 per cent front and 5 per cent rear to a 50/50 split depending on throttle, load and speed inputs.
Three models were offered in the range, starting with the X and climbing through the XS to the WRX-like XT. Standard equipment on the X included four-speaker sound with steering wheel controls, 16-inch steel wheels, a fullsized spare as well as air, and power