Subaru Forester XC

Premium

Subaru Forester, driving
Subaru Forester, dynamic
Subaru Forester, front
Subaru Forester, rear
Subaru Forester, off-road
Subaru Forester, interior
Subaru Forester Special Edition, 2016, interior

WITH its rugged looks and all-wheel-drive ability, the revamped Subaru Forester is perfect for those who live in, or just love visiting the more remote parts of Britain.

So it proved the ideal choice for a trek to one of the UK's wildest but most beautiful areas - the Western Highlands of Scotland.

Our destination was Fort William for a climb up Britain's highest mountain, Ben Nevis - after a 350-mile drive from Yorkshire.

The Forester is powered by the latest generation of Boxer engines. There is a choice of three 2.0-litre horizontally opposed four cylinder units: a naturally aspirated petrol, a high-power turbocharged petrol - and the turbocharged diesel fitted to this car.

The diesel Boxer develops 148bhp at 3,600rpm and 258lb/ft of torque at 1,600-2,400rpm, with a 148g/km of CO2 - the greenest of three units. With a top speed of 118mph, it reaches 62mph in 9.9 seconds. Average fuel consumption is claimed at 49.6mpg and our 700-mile round trip returned a very acceptable 45.3mpg.

The engine does not have any of the traits often common to a turbo oil-burner. There is very little turbo lag so acceleration is more instant than experienced in some rivals cars. It sounds good, too, and it likes to be revved so you can hold onto the gears longer before changing up. Top marks therefore to the engine.

Suspension has been updated both front and rear to make the Forester more comfortable, particularly on poorer roads. But the ride can still get choppy at speed, noticeable on some relatively fast and twisty sections from Tarbert to Crianlarich and northwards through Glencoe to Fort William. Not that that is likely to matter to most Forester buyers where 4x4 strength, ability and durability is key.

The hard-working, chunky Forester is a car that won't let you down and its styling and less angular shape still present a no-nonsense appeal.

And in a SUV market which shows no sign of shrinking any time soon, the latest raft of improvements to safety, ease of use and practicality, ensure that the Forester is ideally placed to attract its fair share.

Rivals of the Japanese contender include the Toyota RAV4, the Ford Kuga, VW Tiguan and Mazda CX-5.

The latest Forester, like so many 4x4s, has undergone a "smooth-over" for a more aerodynamic profile. Sure, it is not as curvy as the Kia Sportage or the Nissan Qashqai, but it certainly looks trendy and modern, without diluting its character and personality.

The cabin is roomy and impressively refined, sporting silver flourishes and a high-gloss black decor. The heated leather front seats give good support and the dashboard looks high-end furnished in soft-touch material.

There is generous room for five adults with good leg and shoulder room. The back of the cabin has a flat floor unlike many rivals where the transmission tunnel often intrudes. The good sized boot holds 505 litres of luggage with the rear seats in place, and 1,592 litres with the seats folded. The fuel tank holds 60 litres.

The Forester has a five-star Euro NCap crash safety rating. Visibility and safety are further improved with steering responsive headlamps that illuminate corners as the driver turns the steering wheel.

There are five trim levels to choose from - XE and XE Premium in naturally aspirated petrol models, XC and XC Premium diesels and XT turbocharged petrol.

Safety is taken care of with twin front side, curtain and knee airbags, trailer stability and Subaru's hallmark AWD technology.

Standard kit includes 17-inch alloy wheels, front and rear fog lamps, roof rails, boot light, 60/40 split rear seats, tilt adjustable and telescopic steering wheel, hill start assist, Bluetooth and a multi-function display. The seven-inch touchscreen infotainment system also houses the sat-nav.

FAST FACTS

Subaru Forester XC Premium

Price: £30,995

Mechanical:147bhp,1,998cc, 4cyl dieselengine driving four wheels via 6-speed manual gearbox

Max Speed: 118mph

0-62mph: 9.9 seconds

Combined MPG: 49.6

Insurance Group: 25

C02 emissions: 148g/km

Bik rating: 31%

Warranty: 5yrs/100,000 miles

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