By Patrick James on 2016-09-24 - The author has been a motoring writer for more than 16 years. Formerly motoring editor at the Coventry Telegraph, he now produces motoring copy, on new car launches and road tests on a freelance basis.
Subaru Forester 2.0D
THE SUV/crossover market is ferociously contested having increased eightfold since 1997.
So when you are offering off-road capability, excellent practicality and bullet proof reliability, you are in with a chance of making an impact.
The Subaru Forester offers these and more after a makeover this year.
Its boxy and rugged styling remains, even if the rougher edges have been smoothed out with new bumpers and light clusters,front grille, rear combination lamps and alloy wheels, plus newtechnologies and refined engines, particularly the Boxer diesel tested here.
Many may prefer sharper styling, but this kind of vehicle has a loyal following and the tweaks and improvements means it just keeps getting better.
It also offers more refinement with extra soundproofing to keep out engine and road noise, plus an upgraded cabin which features plenty of standard kit, including a high tech touchscreen infotainment system.
Also included are the usual electric and powered bells and whistles, high-quality sound system, reversing camera and a standard, full-length sun roof. There are plenty of creature comforts at a competitive price.
The interior is very dark, but has been upgraded high-gloss black decorative panel, improved leather seating and finish to dash and doors. Nice new touches include rear-seat heating and a new heated multi-function steering wheel. Control knobs and switchgear have a chunky feel but controls are clear and legible and logically placed.
It also offers plenty of space for occupants and their luggage, with good head and legroom, plus a generous 505 litres of stowage space at the rear. This increases to a cavernous 1,592 litres with the rear seats folded.
Add to that a five year/100,000 mile warranty and its a tempting package.
Despite its rugged presence, the Forester is a car that is easy to drive and the responsive engine two-litre diesel, mated to a six-speed gearbox, offers plenty of pace when required.
It can hit the 60mph mark from a standing start in a shade under 10 seconds and on to a top speed of 118mph.
Emissions at 148g/km for a four wheel drive SUV are reasonable while the claimed economy figure of nearly 50mpg was nearer the low 40s by my estimation.
It is also an excellent motorway cruiser and once up to speed the diesel is virtually silent, with only some wind noise around the large door mirrors.
It is refined drive, the upgraded suspension means it is a comfortable enough ride, soaking up all the lumps and bumps, but also handles well when pushed that little bit harder.
Vehicles of this nature are not designed to hurled into corner, but it does feel remarkably stable for such a big vehicle when navigating corners at higher speeds. It really does handle well and the steering is direct and responsive.
The high, commanding driving position and large glass areas means the driver gets great all round vision, while at the same time giving ease of access and that extra ground clearance when going off road.
Safety is key with Subarus and the vehicle has been awarded the full five-star Euro NCAP crash safety rating.
There is the full range of airbags including knee protection, stability programme and trailer stability plus high beam, adaptive headlights for illuminating corners.
The Forester is available with the choice of either a six-speed manual transmission - available on 2.0i and 2.0D models - or an upgraded version of Subaru's Lineartronic CVT automatic, available as an option on 2.0i and 2.0D models and standard on vehicles equipped with the 241ps DIT petrol engine. Descent control makes traction even better.
Subaru Forester 2.0D XC Manual
Mechanical: 147bhp, 1,998cc, 4cyl diesel engine driving four wheels via 6-speed manual gearbox
Max Speed: 118mph
0-62mph: 9.9 seconds
Combined MPG: 47.9
Insurance Group: 25
C02 emissions: 148g/km
Bik rating: 29%
Warranty: 5yrs/100,000 miles
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