to gain mar­ket grip

NT News - Motoring - - NEWS -

The SUV’s ex­tra ground clear­ance makes for a high­ish load level into the back, but it is eas­ily man­age­able.

A five-star ANCAP crash rat­ing has been given to the strength­ened and re - in­forced body, and its bat­tery of safety tech­nol­ogy in­cludes sta­bil­ity and trac­tion con­trol, ac­tive head­rests, anti-lock brakes with brake as­sist and brake force dis­tri­bu­tion, plus dual front/side/cur­tain airbags. PRICE AND EQUIP­MENT

The stan­dard Forester is priced from $35,990 and kit­ted-out with 17-inch al­loy wheels, self-lev­el­ling sus­pen­sion, DataDot se­cu­rity, roof rails and a four-speaker CD/au­dio player sys­tem.

The $39,990 Pre­mium level adds 17-inch al­loys, elec­tric sun­roof, leather up­hol­stery, tinted glass, a CD six-stacker, eight-way power ad­just­ment on the driver’s seat, and self-lev­el­ling xenon head­lights with popup wash­ers. DRIV­ING

Over the past few years we’ve be­come fairly used to the voice of diesel engines — some have even started to sound en­joy­able.

The Forester’s tur­bod­iesel isn’t yet one of them, but only be­cause it’s let down by some clat­ter ap­pear­ing at lower revs.

But the sound is sec­ondary to the sub­stance.

And this en­gine steps up to the plate.

It’s strong and tractable, with more torque than we could soak up on the test drive through hilly roads both on and off the black­top.

The turbo lends a hand smartly and the ex­tra ef­fort comes into play with plenty of pick-up for over­tak­ing, too.

And while we were not tow­ing on the launch test drive, there’s no doubt those who want to haul a van or boat around are go­ing to find plenty of use for that ex­tra grunt and the in­creased tow­ing ca­pac­ity.

The steer­ing was re­spon­sive and com­mu­nica­tive on bi­tu­men, although of­ten felt light over dirt roads.

And while we were pleased with the Forester’s ride and well-bal­anced man­ners on the sealed sur­faces, it was on the sec­tions of pot­holed, cor­ru­gated dirt that it proved its strengths.

These are the kinds of wash­board stretches that could have lesser ve­hi­cles skit­ter­ing around like mar­bles on a vi­braplate, but the Forester han­dled it all ca­pa­bly.

Subaru orig­i­nally launched the Forester as the city car for dirty week­ends.

We’re not sure about the city life with the man­ual gear­box, but for any­body who wants to get be­yond the ur­ban bound­aries for head­ing down lit­tle-used tracks to re­mote beaches, this is a ve­hi­cle to con­sider.

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