SUBARU AUSTRALIA’S managing director Nick Senior was channeling the ghost who convinces a crazy Kevin Costner to build a baseball diamond in a corn field in Field of Dreams. “If you build the right product,” began Senior, “they will come. And at this time, the right product is an SUV. Our love affair knows no bounds.”
With these words, Senior launched the fourth-generation Forester, a car to which buyers have been coming in big numbers since 1998. Amazingly, given the relatively short period in which the Forester has existed, it is now the best-selling Subaru in the brand’s 40-year Australian history.
The fourth-gen car looks to build on this success by offering a bigger, more refined and better-equipped package. At 4595mm, the new car is 35mm longer and sits on a 2640mm wheelbase (up 25mm).
Initially the Forester will be offered with two naturally aspirated petrol flat-fours and a turbo-diesel four-cylinder. The entry-level Forester is now fitted with the 110kW/198Nm 2.0-litre boxer that also sees duty in the Impreza and XV. This engine is mated to a six-speed manual, up one ratio over the old car.
Aside from an occasionally unsettled low-speed ride from the 18-inch alloys on the top-spec 2.5i S, the new Forester is a vastly more refined car than the old one.
Given its off-road pretensions, the Forester is the most-refined car in the current Subaru line-up. On blacktop or gravel, it lopes along, soaking up the worst impacts with aplomb, while there’s enough body control to limit head-toss from the tall-boy body. On gravel, the ESC is well-judged, allowing a little bit of slip if you’re smooth with your inputs or clamping down hard on any sudden loss of traction.
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