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Week at the Wheel: Subaru Forester 2.0d. Image by Subaru.

Week at the Wheel: Subaru Forester 2.0d
The Japanese firm's 4x4 is as tough as they come, but can it hack it next to the big guns of the SUV world?

 



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| Week at the Wheel | Subaru Forester 2.0D XS NavPlus |

Inside & Out: star star star star star

You won't be bowled over by the Subaru Forester in the metal. It may be big, but it blends into the background with anonymous bodywork and farmyard looks.

It's the same deal inside too, as the Forester's cabin is pretty subtle. Save for the swathe of silver plastic that runs across the cabin, there's not a huge amount to write home about. The materials aren't of the greatest quality, but, in true Subaru style, the Forester's interior is tough and well put together.

There's loads of space, too. The 450-litre boot extends to 1,660 litres with the seats down, but it's the room for front and rear seat passengers that really impresses. There's no end of head- and legroom, wherever you're sitting, and the panoramic glass roof on our top-spec XS NavPlus model lets plenty of light in and makes the Forester's cabin seem even bigger.

Engine & Transmission: star star star star star

Subaru was a latecomer to the diesel market, but that gave its engineers time to develop a splendid turbodiesel engine. The 2.0-litre flat four-cylinder unit is super smooth and hauls the Forester along surprisingly well for a car if its size. It's even more impressive when you consider that there's a so-so 145bhp on tap. A slight diesel clatter is usually audible, but other than that it's fairly quiet.

The engine doesn't mind being worked hard and, unlike many diesels, it responds well to a bit of revving. Let the needle dip below 1,500rpm and you'll need to drop a gear, as the engine struggles to haul the Forester along at low revs.

The six-speed manual gearbox is the Subaru's Achilles' heel. It's notch-like and the lever emits a chinking sound whenever you change gear. The stick is also angled to the left, pointing towards the passenger, which seems quite unnatural. As a result, you'll forever end up in fifth gear when you're aiming for third.

Ride & Handling: star star star star star

Soft suspension and a bouncy ride give you the impression that the Forester can cut it off-road. While it's comfortable enough on tarmac in a straight line, the Subaru lollops around corners and bounces over rough surfaces. It's actually good fun in a barmy sort of way, but it's nowhere near as tidy as the likes of a Land Rover Freelander 2.

Equipment, Economy & Value for Money: star star star star star

The Forester XS NavPlus that you see in the pictures is the top-of-the-range version and costs 28,995. That sounds like a lot of money for a big Subaru that will probably depreciate quite heavily, but you get an awful lot of toys. Satnav, leather seats, climate control and parking sensors with a rear view camera are all standard among other things. Next to an equivalent Freelander, which costs 33,425, the Subaru looks like a bit of bargain. The starting price of 21,295 for the entry-level 2.0 X could do with being a grand or two lower to tempt more buyers, but otherwise, the Forester seems like good value

According to Subaru, you should see 44.1mpg and our trip readout reckoned that we were averaging 40.5mpg with some spirited driving, which is pretty good. Insurance group 23 is easy enough to swallow and 170g/km is impressive for a comfortable, big 4x4.

Overall: star star star star star

Subaru's Forester is a bit flawed, but it's a car that you really want to like. It's incredibly practical and durable to boot, so it's easy to see why it's always had a big following from farmers and landowners. The diesel engine is sublime and very cheap to run considering the size of the car. It's also worth remembering Subaru's excellent record for reliability.

If it weren't for the dodgy gearbox and the staid looks and interior, the Forester would be battling it out with top-end rivals like the Freelander 2. That's a real shame, because it has so much potential and if you hate the school run image that comes with most 4x4s, the Forester could be the answer. It's subtle enough to fall off most people's radar, but it can cut the mustard off-road, which is what a real 4x4 should be all about.

Words: Jack Carfrae. Photography: Max Earey - 12 Aug 2010









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2010 Subaru Forester specifications: (2.0D XS NavPlus)
Price: 28,995 on-the-road.
0-62mph: 10.4 seconds
Top speed: 116mph
Combined economy: 44.1mpg
Emissions: 170g/km
Kerb weight: 1550kg

Full technical specifications

2010 Subaru Forester. Image by Subaru.2010 Subaru Forester. Image by Subaru.2010 Subaru Forester. Image by Subaru.2010 Subaru Forester. Image by Subaru.2010 Subaru Forester. Image by Subaru.

2010 Subaru Forester. Image by Subaru.2010 Subaru Forester. Image by Subaru.2010 Subaru Forester. Image by Subaru.2010 Subaru Forester. Image by Subaru.2010 Subaru Forester. Image by Subaru.



2010 Subaru Forester. Image by Subaru.
 

2010 Subaru Forester. Image by Subaru.
 

2010 Subaru Forester. Image by Subaru.
 

2010 Subaru Forester. Image by Subaru.
 

2010 Subaru Forester. Image by Subaru.
 

2010 Subaru Forester. Image by Subaru.
 

2010 Subaru Forester. Image by Subaru.
 






 

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