Diesel appeal for the family
THE pros and cons of diesel as a passenger car fuel have seen the oil-burners’ popularity rise, so much so that the No.1-selling compact SUV now packs a diesel punch.
Subaru’s first attempt at a flat-four turbodiesel is in service in the Forester, having debuted in the Outback, and ‘‘pleasing’’ sales results of the new models have been entered into Subaru’s ledgers.
The Forester has plenty of fans and it’s easy to see why – the cabin has an airy, open feel to it, with a high roofline contributing to that.
There’s reasonable space for front occupants as well, with the rear seat not short on space either.
Width will perhaps be the only issue (that’s provided neither of the front occupants are overly tall) but three ‘‘tweens’’ would be well accommodated across the rear.
Bootspace is good without being cavernous, although anyone with a couple of carseat-bound toddlers will have restrictions of rear load by means of the seat tethers, which are attached to the roof, instead of immediately behind the rear seatback.
But the flat-four turbodiesel is the newest feature and as a first-up effort it is a decent powerplant.
The turbocharged horizontally opposed flat-four uses common-rail direct-injection and sits neatly between the naturally aspirated and turbocharged petrol engines for price, if not for power and torque.
The turbodiesel has more torque than both petrol engines but has the lowest power output, which lends itself to tall-gear running for better fuel economy.
Part-throttle driving – flicking up through the slightly vague and rubbery six-speed manual – doesn’t make the Subaru feel short of pace, but it does the fuel economy plenty of favours.
Our time in the car included mainly suburban running with a couple of open-road jaunts, the result being 7.6 litres per 100km, which is not far off the lab-claim of 6.4 litres per 100km.
The diesel is not too noisy (although it still has some development work before it is the quietest of the new-generation diesels) and it has a strong torque band once it’s up and on boost.
A couple of stalls might have had more to do with the clutch as well as any hesitation in the turbo spooling up, although Subaru claims there’s 340Nm on offer at only 1600rpm.
The entry-level diesel’s equipment largely mimics its petrol sibling – although it has climate control; reach ’n’ rake adjustable leatherwrapped steering wheel with cruise and sound system controls, trip computer, power mirrors and windows, cloth trim, 16in alloy wheels and a four-speaker MP3-compatible sound system with an auxiliary input jack.
The safety features list includes allwheel drive, anti-lock brakes, stability control and dual front, side and fulllength curtain airbags.
The Forester remains a capable allrounder, offering a comfortable conveyance for family duties and enough clearance to get properly muddy in a good way.
The addition of a diesel engine to the Forester family will only add to its appeal.
PACKS A PUNCH: Subaru’s new diesel Forester is a capable all-rounder.