The Subaru Forester is a difficult one to describe.
Officially classified as a compact crossover, it falls somewhere in between an SUV and a station wagon, probably leaning towards the latter with a degree of butchness differentiating it from your run-of-the-mill station wagon.
It is not the prettiest car around – at least on my book – and after spending a week in the 2.0iS ES CVT, I can honestly say it is not the most exciting either. In short, it’s the type of vehicle I can see my late grandfather in.
Safe and solid with no reason for the driver to try and challenge the speed limit. Just like my oupa’s golden Toyota Cressida. And even though the Forester is as safe as a house, the problem is, it kind of drives like one too.
The four-cylinder 2.0-litre engine (115kW/196Nm) feels underpowered and its marriage to the seven-speed CVT gearbox is one not even intensive counselling can save. The box is as frantic as we’ve come to expect from a CVT and the constant gear hunting under acceleration is annoying.
But having said that, motorists whose main priority is safety on our killing fields, I mean roads, probably won’t mind boring looks and unstable wedlock between powertrain and gearbox, and that is why this model is Subaru’s top seller in South Africa.
And even though the car offers maximum protection for its driver and passengers, the Japanese manufacturer argues that accidents should be avoided at all costs and have therefore ensured that the fifth-generation Forester has superb all-round visibility with fewer blind spots throughout the cabin than ever before.
This is done through thinner A-pillars and C-pillars, allowing for bigger windows behind the rear seats. And I must admit, the new design greatly enhances the driver’s view in almost all directions. As a further safety enhancement, the Forester also features EyeSight Driver Assist technology for the first time.
This system uses stereo cameras to detect potential danger up to 110m ahead and includes pre-collision braking, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, lane sway warning, lead vehicle alert and pre-collision throttle management in addition to a host of other safety features.
The interior is comfortable and features a very decent spec level including and 8-inch touch screen, Apple Carplay and Android Auto as well as a Harman Kardon sound system.
Even though we didn’t take it off-road, Subarus are renowned for their off-road abilities and the new Forester features all wheel drive with X-Mode selector. The Forester 2.0i-S ES CVT retails for R509 000 and comes with a three-year/ 75 000km maintenance plan and fiveyear/150 000km warranty.