New-gen Forester the per­fect fit

Geraldton Guardian - - REV MOTORING GUIDE - Derek Og­den

If the Subaru Forester were a hu­man tim­ber-get­ter, he would be well past re­tire­ment age.

How­ever, the re­cently re­leased pop­u­lar Subaru all-wheel drive wagon, in its fifth gen­er­a­tion, is con­fi­dently plug­ging away into the fu­ture.

Subaru Aus­tralia man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Colin Christie said it was

21 years since the first-gen­er­a­tion Forester was launched in Aus­tralia, es­tab­lish­ing a whole new trend by be­com­ing the orig­i­nal com­pact SUV.

“It was Subaru’s best­seller last year, with more than 12,000 ve­hi­cles sold, taking us close to a quar­ter of a mil­lion Foresters sold since launch,” he said.

“With the launch of this new gen­er­a­tion, we see every op­por­tu­nity to build on that suc­cess thanks to the new model’s great com­bi­na­tion of emo­tional value, prac­ti­cal­ity, and tech­nol­ogy.”

Among the lat­est tech­nol­ogy mak­ing its de­but is the Subaru driver mon­i­tor­ing sys­tem, tagged as Driver Fo­cus.

It en­ables driv­ers to per­son­alise cabin pref­er­ences, which, ac­cord­ing to Subaru Oz, is a first for a main­stream brand in Aus­tralia.

Fur­ther im­prove­ments in­clude a more re­spon­sive and ef­fi­cient engine and added sporti­ness to the CVT trans­mis­sion in man­ual mode, the roomi­est Forester cabin, up­grades to X-Mode for added sure-foot­ed­ness, re­verse au­to­matic brak­ing and the ad­di­tion of dig­i­tal ra­dio.

Forester also be­comes the third Subaru model, af­ter the Im­preza and XV, to take on 12-month/

12,500km ser­vic­ing through ef­fi­cien­cies gained via the maker’s global plat­form.

Four vari­ants are avail­able; 2.5i,

2.5i-L, 2.5i Pre­mium and 2.5i-S, start­ing at $33,490, plus on-road costs, with the range-top­ping 2.5i-S at $41,490. On test was the lat­ter.

Through the generations, the Forester has mor­phed from a com­pact all-wheel-drive wagon to a gen­uine off-road sports util­ity ve­hi­cle, the lat­est ver­sion capping off the el­e­va­tion with the ground clear­ance (220mm) of a gen­uine goal-most-any­where ve­hi­cle.

Along with this comes the bold styling of bumpers, muscular guards and a shoul­der line em­pha­sis­ing this height.

A vari­a­tion on Subaru’s clas­sic hexag­o­nal grille, with astron­omy-in­spired mo­tif, is joined by C-shaped head­lights, re­peated in the rear light de­sign.

LED lights help re­duce power con­sump­tion, thereby im­prov­ing fuel ef­fi­ciency. All mod­els roll on new-de­sign 17-inch (2.5i and 2.5i-L) and 18-inch wheels (2.5i Pre­mium and 2.5i-S), while added loop­holes in the roof rails of the 2.5i-S, en­able ropes and straps to be tied down onto the rails.

With outer di­men­sions in­creased in all cases, oc­cu­pants ben­e­fit from more shoul­der, hip and leg room all round.

Cargo space is ex­panded to 498 litres in mod­els with or with­out sun­roof.

The spa­cious look in­side is high­lighted by rounded de­sign, in­cor­po­rat­ing high-quality ma­te­ri­als, sil­ver-framed dis­plays and con­trols, while white LED map lights im­prove night-time vis­i­bil­ity and com­ple­ment the wide-body in­te­rior am­bi­ence.

The el­e­vated cen­tre con­sole adds sub­stance to the look, of­fer­ing plenty of stor­age space in front of the gear shifter. A multi-func­tion dis­play is sit­u­ated atop the cen­tre of the in­stru­ment panel, show­ing out­side tem­per­a­ture and clock at all times. The 6.3-inch colour screen can be changed by us­ing the steer­ing wheel con­trol switch, pro­vid­ing the driver and all pas­sen­gers with use­ful and en­ter­tain­ing in­for­ma­tion, with easy-to-un­der­stand vis­ual cues.

The wide-screen full-colour MFD pro­vides a wealth of in­for­ma­tion in­clud­ing ve­hi­cle dy­nam­ics con­trol and fuel ef­fi­ciency. Em­bed­ded nav­i­ga­tion is avail­able in 2.5i Pre­mium and 2.5i-S mod­els.

A liq­uid crys­tal dis­play in the in­stru­ment cluster, be­tween the gauges, in­cludes driv­ing and graph­i­cal in­for­ma­tion for driv­ing and con­trol. The unit shows in­for­ma­tion in­clud­ing rear-view cam­era dis­play and en­ter­tain­ment in­for­ma­tion.

Ap­ple CarPlay and Google An­droid Auto fea­ture pop­u­lar apps in the in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem via voice recog­ni­tion.

The Forester 2.5i-S fea­tures Har­man Kar­don pre­mium au­dio, with eight speak­ers, plus sub­woofer.

The 2.5-litre direct in­jec­tion four-cylin­der hor­i­zon­tally-op­posed Boxer engine is 90 per cent new and of­fers in­creased com­bus­tion ef­fi­ciency. Power and torque are up to 136kW and 239Nm re­spec­tively.

Weight is down 1.9kg, while noise is also re­duced. A Lin­eartronic con­tin­u­ously vari­able trans­mis­sion with man­ual over­rides puts power to ground through all four wheels.

A Forester vari­ant was the first Ja­pa­nese-made ve­hi­cle — and first com­pact SUV — to re­ceive a fives­tar ANCAP rat­ing in early 2003.

Every Forester fea­tures the lat­est gen­er­a­tion Eye­Sight driver as­sist sys­tem. Stereo cam­era im­ages are in colour and the recog­ni­tion is op­ti­mised, en­abling vision of mul­ti­ple items si­mul­ta­ne­ously.

Added to ex­ist­ing Eye­Sight func­tions is emer­gency lane keep as­sist that can help pre­vent crashes if a driver starts drift­ing into an­other lane.

With generations of de­vel­op­ment, the roomi­est Forester yet, the 2.5i-S spec, has no trou­ble in of­fer­ing a spa­cious, com­fort­able and mod­ern am­bi­ence for driver and pas­sen­gers.

For the first time, SI-Drive fea­tures in nor­mally as­pi­rated Foresters, in the 2.5i Pre­mium and 2.5i-S vari­ants.

It is de­signed to im­prove fuel ef­fi­ciency in “I” mode and in­crease engine speed in “S” mode. SI-Drive con­trol is en­hanced for greater re­spon­sive­ness.

In “I” mode, the test 2.5i-S fuel con­sump­tion tipped over 10 litres per 100km in city and sub­urbs and 5.5 litres per 100km on the high­way.

The Forester 2.5i-S has two switch­able modes, con­trolled us­ing an easy-to-check dial.

When D.Snow/Mud is se­lected, engine torque con­trol al­lows the unit to gen­er­ate max­i­mum torque more quickly, pro­duc­ing mod­er­ate wheel slip, mak­ing it eas­ier to un­stick the ve­hi­cle in deep snow or mud. We had to take the maker’s word for this. The amount of in­for­ma­tion avail­able to the driver is as com­pre­hen­sive as found on many far more ex­pen­sive ve­hi­cles.

On the down­side, the use of three sep­a­rate screen dis­plays has the eyes scan­ning over a large area when maybe they should be con­cen­trat­ing on the road ahead.

The Forester has been around long enough to have built up a large fan base and there’s no rea­son this should not be­come big­ger with the lat­est su­per-speced top dog, the 2.5i-S.

The spa­cious look in­side is high­lighted by rounded de­sign, in­cor­po­rat­ing high-quality ma­te­ri­als.

The Forester has bold styling of bumpers, muscular guards and a shoul­der line, em­pha­sis­ing its height.

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