Subaru Forester 2.5iL

What is it?
A great city/country compromise.

What’s in it?
A 110-kilowatt 2.5-litre four-cylinder with a continuously variable auto.

Is it thirsty?
I used 10.5 litres per 100 km in the city, 7.5 in the country. The official combined figure is 8.1.

Drive away

Thumbs up
Good off road ability, good handling and ride, excellent build quality.

Thumbs down
The reversing screen is too small, nothing else to complain about.

ForesterMy friend Don produces a car club magazine and he can’t spell to save himself. He always mixes the double and single-r in Ferrari and cannot accept that there are no double letters in Maserati. And while he always gets the Romeo correct, he tends to spell the first word Alpha. It’s Alfa, of course, for Anonima Lombarda Fabbrica Automobili.

He never misses Subaru and I asked him how he manages this. Simple, he said, backwards in text speak Subaru is u r a bus.

Could he spell continuously variable transmission? It’s one of the big features of the new Forester (he always uses a double r in Forester, by the way). The other one, X-mode, should prove less challenging.

The continuously variable auto is a nicely progressive transmission seldom caught out and pleasingly economical with the 2.5-litre motor. It also makes for a flexible car, and works better than the bulk of conventional autos they’re putting in SUVs these days, the ones that change down so early the motor is on the point of labouring.

And X-mode is essentially a computer program balancing load, torque and road conditions to give the best grip possible and it’s something you notice not just on dirt roads (where it wo.rks very nicely) but also in tight, hard cornering where the Forester displays surprising grip for something of its weight and height.

Foresters have always been very flexible, things you can use with confidence off-road and I suspect this one will be a little better than earlier models given the CVT and X-mode combination. It also gets a hill descent control that works, something that anyone who has tried to get down a muddy hill while staying off both brake and accelerator will appreciate.

But at the same time it’s an entirely acceptable city car, and while a little more expensive than others in the yummy mummy category it offers a good level of equipment and excellent comfort, plus plenty of room for stuff. A back-up camera is standard and so are rear seats that can be folded from the cargo area, a full-size spare, Bluetooth and cruise.

Personally I’d get the base model rather than the L, as tested. The L gets a few extra bits and bobs, like alloy wheels and gearshift paddles, but there’s nothing there that would compel me to part with an extra $3000.

Published May 2013