Diesel ap­peal for the fam­ily

The Courier-Mail - Motoring - - CARSGUIDE.COM.AU - Stu­art Martin

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.

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