New Subaru chasing

bigger sales

Subaru Forester e-Boxer, front action
Subaru Forester e-Boxer, front static
Subaru Forester e-Boxer, front action 2
Subaru Forester e-Boxer, side action 2
Subaru Forester e-Boxer, side action
Subaru Forester e-Boxer, rear action
Subaru Forester e-Boxer, dashboard
Subaru Forester e-Boxer, rear seats
Subaru Forester e-Boxer, front seats
Subaru Forester e-Boxer, boot open
Subaru Forester e-Boxer, full rear static
Subaru Forester e-Boxer, boot

IT'S taken a few years but Subaru in the UK has now decided it needs to do better and confidently predicts that the latest arrivals heading for the showroom will do the trick.

And they just might, considering that the two newcomers to the range now have mild electric power to help their continuing petrol engines lower emissions and improve economy.

Those twin virtues are front of house in the the current thinking of both car maker and car buyer and Subaru thinks the new Forester and revised XV have the potential to push the firm's UK sales through the roof.

From a forecast 3,600 sales this year the UK importer of the Japanese cars is determined to hit 10,000 by 2022. Ambitious or whatâ¦

To do it the people at the IM Group, the Midlands-based importers of Subaru, are doing more than simply sell improving cars. They are making their dealers a happier lot, reckoning that will show in more contented customers, and then, more sales.

Hit the sales target and Subaru would become the fastest growing car brand in the UK, although starting from a low base makes that easier, of course. Still, 10,000 cars would be a very solid achievement.

In passing, you get the feeling the current Subaru management wants to hear no more of the brand's once supreme efforts in international rallying. Those championship-winning days are a decade or more ago and, in the words of Torbjorn Lillrud, development director and the man charged with achieving those sales "the target group is not petrolheads anymore."

Instead, Subaru is romancing buyers who like a very safe car in which to go shooting, fishing or mountain biking, although I expect they'll still happily sell you a car if you do none of the above.

And a continuing reason to choose a Subaru, says the company, is the all-wheel drive system fitted across the board to its cars, along with ‘boxer' petrol engines that sit closer to the road and keep the weight lower for more assured road manners.

And now comes the new and clever bit; fitting a small electric motor alongside the CVT automatic transmission and powering it from a new battery mounted in the boot, where it takes the space once occupied by the spare wheel but doesn't eat into luggage room.

Indeed, on the new Forester, the boot is easier to load than before thanks to a wider tailgate opening (and a newly reshaped rear door means it is easier for people to gain entry too).

That mild hybrid system improves the emissions and economy, with the 2.0-litre Forester's mild hybrid set up producing 148bhp and average economy of 34.7mpg under the new and tougher testing regime, along with 154g/km of CO2.

Combined with a top speed of 117mph and sprint to 62mph in 11.8 seconds Subaru has produced a rounded offering, nicely matching more than adequate performance with decent figures on the green front too.

The new Forester e-Boxer costs £33,995 in XE trim or £36,995 as an XE Premium.

The latest XV (£28,995 and £30,995) remains mostly unchanged in looks inside and out but the Forester has been granted a thorough update, while still very obviously remaining a Forester. Quite right too, as the brand's top seller in the UK with the XV a few percentage points behind.

Subaru is especially proud of the new safety features on its recent arrivals, including a hyper-clever eye-spy camera that gazes constantly at the driver's face and detects heavy eyelids or too much looking at anything but the road ahead and bleeps an attention-grabbing warning to stay alert or look where you're going.

The entry level XE grade now gains LED head and front fog lights, keyless entry, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, power adjustment for the front passenger's seat and reverse automatic braking, while the top XE Premium adds goodies like heated rear seats and steering wheel, satellite navigation, sunroof, power tailgate and 18ins alloys.

We got to drive the newcomers in the delightfully unspoiled countryside of rural Latvia, a sorely undervisited part of the former Soviet Union and now a country intent on showing a modern face to the world while preserving a past rich in architecture and heritage.

Out on a deeply sandy stretch of forest both Forester and XV pulled up distinct slopes on standard road tyres with clever electronics metering out power to individual wheels, and braking for you on the downside.

Automatic emergency braking brought the cars to a dramatic and shuddering stop inches away from a test target that might one day be a child running into busy traffic.

And all the while, riding with aplomb some roads that made the worst the UK can serve up feel silk-like in their smoothness. Here are cars that you feel will be family friends for years as they go uncomplainingly about the business of moving people about without drama or fuss.


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