Subaru Forester XT

Subaru Forester XT, front
Subaru Forester XT, front, action
Subaru Forester, side, static
Subaru Forester, side action
Subaru Forester, rear action
Subaru Forester, rear static
Subaru Forester XT, rear
Subaru Forester XT, interior
Subaru Forester XT, rear seats
Subaru Forester XT, boot

FOUR-wheel-drive SUVs capable of handling tough off-road conditions and lively two-seater sports cars would at first glance appear to be at opposite ends of the motoring spectrum.

But that's not entirely the case when it comes to Subaru.

For the Japanese car maker now offers an SUV fitted with an engine based on its highly successful BRZ and that can only mean one thing - a very rapid off-roader.

The new turbo-charged Subaru Forester XT is one of those rare creations which in some ways defies logic. If you want a car for off-road work you don't really need one that offers hot-hatch style acceleration.

But try telling that to the buyers who are delighted to be able to drive a model which offers them the best of both worlds.

And after driving the Forester I'm inclined to agree with them.

For when you need to leave the Tarmac the Forester offers a very capable, sure-footed drive which will cope with most things nature can throw at it.

And when it gets a little bit too tough the Forester has something reserve with X-Mode, which is standard on CVT models and operated by a simple button near the gear shift.

Engaging it optimises the integrated control of the engine but also brings into play the car's hill decent control which ensure the vehicle can come down severe inclines at a safe, steady pace.

And because the Forester has plenty of ground clearance there's not too much worry when it comes to rocks and ruts.

Back on the highway it's time to enjoy the sort of performance that tends to leave red-badged hatchback owners at the traffic lights wondering what had just happened.

All that pent up power of 241bhp can sometimes take you unawares when you need to creep forward slowly, such as when parking, as the car does tend to lurch suddenly no matter how much you try to control it.

Under normal driving conditions, however, the 0-62 miles per hour acceleration time of just 7.5 seconds certainly adds a bit of fun to day to day driving.

The latest model comes with a number of upgrades, including a new factory-fitted 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment and navigation system to replace the previous dealer-fit option.

There's also a very stylish piano black central fascia with contrasting metallic detailing on the dashboard and doors.

If you buy a Forester you are never going to be short of space as the interior takes five people with room to spare. The design means there is plenty of headroom and rear seat passengers get the chance to stretch their legs properly.

The same can be said of boot space, with some 505 litres of luggage space available increasing to 1,592 litres with the rear seats folded down. And the XT comes with a power tailgate.

On the road the handling of the Forester XT is sharp and precise and despite its size it's highly manoeuvrable and easy to park, helped by a useful reversing camera.

It's high stance means there is good all-round visibility and despite its stature there is barely any body roll on fast bends and corners.

The CVT gearing system is smooth and precise and there are paddles behind the steering wheel should you want to drive it manually.

The tried and tested flat-four engine helps to ensure better road holding because of its low centre of gravity and is impressively smooth and quiet.

FAST FACTS

Subaru Forester XT

Price: £30,995

Mechanical: 240bhp, 1,998cc, 4cyl petrol engine driving four wheels via automatic gearbox

Max Speed: 137mph

0-62mph: 7.5 seconds

Combined MPG: 33.2

Insurance Group: 34

C02 emissions: 197g/km

Bik rating: 34%

Warranty: 5yrs/100,000 miles

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