THERE are some individual SUV choices out there and one of the most interesting is the Subaru Forester.
This once rather chunky off-roader has been given a makeover and now, in its fourth generation, can hold its head high among the leaders of the SUV pack.
The Forester has been upgraded with a range of enhancements that will consolidate its status as the Japanese manufacturer's most popular model in the UK.
It has also captured the attention of the market with a sizeable five-year/100,000-mile warranty and is shaped around SUV buyers' top priorities.
Since the Forester was introduced in 1997, European sales in the SUV-C segment have increased eightfold. More now than ever, the new Forester has the ease of use and practicality that appeals to customers looking for this type of vehicle.
Its all-important off-road capability is enhanced by Subaru's latest X-Mode technology.
In addition, it offers a high and commanding driving position; generous interior space and cargo capacity; exterior dimensions that are easily steered through city streets; and ease of entry and exit for adults and children. High ground clearance and All-Wheel Drive enable the all-terrain capabilities that distinguish the Forester from its competitors.
An upgraded interior includes a new factory-fit touchscreen infotainment and navigation system which replaces the previous, Pioneer dealer-fit options.
The seven-inch touchscreen, fitted as standard to all XC, XE, XC Premium, XE Premium and XT models in the UK, allows front-seat occupants to control the car's satellite navigation and audio systems using the same touchscreen functionality as a smartphone, with swiping and pinching-in and -out to zoom in on map displays.
The upgraded interior also includes an extra USB jack allowing occupants to listen to music from a USB-compatible device while charging another at the same time.
With a full five-star Euro NCAP crash safety rating. Subaru's Vehicle Dynamics Control (VDC) electronic stability control system has been upgraded for superior stability, while Trailer Stability Control also improves safety during towing. Greater use of ultra-high tensile steel reinforces the vehicle, making it exceptionally strong yet light.
All safety equipment is fitted as standard to every model in the Forester range, including twin front, side, curtain and knee airbags, upholding Subaru's commitment to improving crash safety performance.
But what makes the Forester really special is the design of the engine. All engines in the series are horizontally opposed or boxer engines, something that has been a feature of the Subaru range for many years.
The throaty beat of these units is certainly addictive and the 2.0-litre diesel of my test model was no exception.
The flat design of the engine contributes to a low centre of gravity, aiding road holding and handling.
Linked to a six-speed manual transmission, this gave a very satisfying drive with 147ps on tap and a 118mph top speed.