When Subaru’s Forester is the right tool for the job

Subaru Forester road test

When the going gets tough, Subaru’s Forester is the right tool for the job, as IAN LAMMING discovered when he discussed his latest test car with a local tradesman.

With a boxer engine and four-wheel-drive, Subaru’s Forester can go just about anywhere.

A NOD, a wink and a knowing look say it all.
“Like it?” says the visitor. “Love it,” I reply. “Yeh, they are good, aren’t they?”
The carpenter has arrived at the old house in a Subaru Forester. His is a 2.0-litre boxer diesel. The test car is the new, more economical, more emission efficient 2.0 litre boxer petrol.
Boxer refers to the arrangement of the cylinders which, instead of pointing skyward, lie on their side. It’s a unique arrangement, well almost, as Porsche does it as well.
What it means is that because the pistons don’t have to fight gravity they tend to be smoother and able to cope with a few more revs. The result is silky smooth power delivery and a quirky boxer drone. Characterful, that is.
Boxer powered Subarus have always been impressive achieving cult status in some models – the Impreza, for instance.
But the downside has always been that they’re a bit juicy and there’s much less fresh air coming out of the exhaust than there should be, which isn’t good especially when most live in the country.
But that’s changing as both boxer petrol and diesel engines have been breathed on and the former will now achieve a creditable 37.7mpg on the combined, while pumping out a much improved 173g/km CO2 from the exhaust. That’s much easier to live with in these troubled times.
My tradesman friend lives up dale, as they say up North, and his car has to get him across difficult terrain all year round. If he doesn’t reach the job he doesn’t get paid, so having the right car for inclement weather is a must.
He is also a Northerner, so we will require value for money and he is a craftsmen, so he will expect his car to be well built and made to last – just like his doors, windows and coffins.
The Forester scores well in all areas. It is built to withstand a nuclear strike with quality paint, fixtures and fittings. It feels robust, no matter how tough the terrain.
It is the proper job when it comes to tackling snow, ice, mud and gravel. The centre of gravity is low and there’s a low ratio box for the really tricky stuff.
The all wheel drive constantly monitors conditions and switches the power to the wheel with the most traction without the driver having to tax himself too much.
Early Foresters lacked ground clearance but the latest incarnation is much more 4×4-like in appearance, with increased ride height and the ability to traverse deeper water.
The clutch is a bit heavy and the gearbox action is the same but it all adds to the feeling of solidity and longevity so it isn’t really much of a problem.
The interior is functional rather than flash and the load bay is a decent shape and size.
So the next time you see two Northern men lock eyes and smirk, perhaps you should consider what they are both driving.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Model: Subaru Forester 2.0 petrol
Engine: 2.0 litre, boxer petrol
Drivetrain: five speed manual
Power: 150PS
Performance: 0-62mph: 10.7secs. Top Speed: 115mph
Insurance group: 19
Miles per gallon (combined): 37.7
CO2 (g/km): 173
Price: from £21,370