Lifestyle Boating & Motoring Subaru is a Family Affair
Subaru is a Family Affair
Saturday, 01 June 2013

 

Three-generations-of-Sosas-who-are-avid-Subaru-Forester-fans320x200Three generations of Sosas who are avid Subaru Forester fans

Remember Y2K ... when supposedly the world’s computers would meltdown, traffic would be gridlocked and planes would fall from the sky! It was also the "gestation period" of the new GST and Patty Sosa was looking to replace her trusty (but ageing) VH Commodore. A Subaru Outback was in the spotlight but the four-cylinder was a bit underpowered and the seating a bit low for her arthritic knees..

Almost jokingly I suggested that we take the Subaru demo Forester GT for a spin – low pressure turbo, two-litre and a well-matched four-speed auto box. Seating was 110mm higher and allowed easier entry and exit and better all-round vision.

What a treat. Immediately the higher torque paid dividends, the snappy acceleration and effortless cruising and the sweepers around Point Walter Drive sealed the deal! Word spread. Dr Clare Matthews and ‘Wazza’ (fellow Tarmac Rally stalwarts) and Dr Chris "Griffo" (Nuclear Scientist and Team HSR member) each bought one; Leonie (Freo ED, Team HSR) followed suit with an XS Forester and Dr Pete's sister bought one too! No wonder the Forester is Subaru's No. 1 volume seller with about 170,000 sold since its Australian debut in 1997.

Enter the fourth generation 2013 Forester 2.5iS Line-artronic CVT.

Like most manufacturers, Subaru has increased the size of its AWD SUV. The new Forester has increased in length and height while keeping weight down to < 40kg increase across all models (ranging from 1.5-1.6 tonnes) by the clever use of high-tensile steel and an aluminium bonnet.

Its generic good looks are enhanced by pushing the A pillars 200mm forward. The "cabin forward" look and interior airiness are enhanced by the quarter windows up front, while also improving side vision. The conservative but contemporary interior features soft touch plastics and multifunction displays – a definite improvement on the outgoing model. The luggage compartment is reasonably small at 422 litres but with the rear seats down (which is a breeze), it balloons to 1480 litres. 

The iS test vehicle was supplied with premium leather, Harmon Kardon Sound, Smart Key/Push button start, dual zone climate air, sat-nav and a huge sunroof. Also included are automatic wipers and headlights, electric front seats, Bluetooth, reversing camera, motorised rear tailgate and 18" Alloys.

The Forester’s 5-star crash rating is achieved with seven airbags and supplemented by ‘Eyesight’, a Stereo 3D radar camera located at the top of the windscreen. This monitors forward obstacles such as pedestrians, lane departure and slow or stopped vehicles ahead, providing pre-collision braking. When combined with the cruise control, the car will automatically adjust the speed to maintain a safe distance to the vehicle in front. It’s a great feature but a bit intrusive and makes overtaking while in ‘Cruise’ difficult. Thankfully it can be deactivated!

13For25iS-02200x1802013 Subaru Forester

The switch-gear and instrument functionality are reasonably intuitive.

The Forester’s naturally aspirated 2.5 litre petrol motor retains its previous power and torque 126 kw/235Nm, while the entry level 2.0 litre has 108kw/198Nm (also fitted to the XV). Stop/Start on all petrol models and& reduced cd 0.33 helps improve economy by 13% (quoted 8.1 l/100 km).

The improved economy is also achieved by a Continuously Variable Transmission replacing the old four-speed Auto. The CVT has a manual mode – six pre-set ratios controlled by paddle shifters. Unfortunately the CVT has no low range capability but the iS comes equipped with X-Mode option, an electronic aid that controls the centre and rear diffs and brakes to individually adjust torque to the wheels with the most traction. X-Mode also incorporates Hill Descent Assist & Traction Control.

The Forester 2.5 iS petrol has improved response due mainly to the CVT, which is reasonably quiet. It definitely feels like it has more than 235Nm up its sleeve.

Quoted acceleration of 0-100 in 9.3 seconds sounds about right.

Unfortunately most drivers will spend their time navigating the urban jungle rather than seeing any serious off-roading and the 2013 Forester proved quite athletic zipping around or skipping over roundabouts while maintaining its composure!

The X-Mode option definitely enhances its off-road ability. The electric assisted steering felt a little vague but the combination of a slightly soft suspension setup with McPherson struts front and double wishbone independent rears provides excellent rough-road ability.

Brakes handled some aggressive driving without fading.

So what's the verdict?

The 2013 Subaru Forester is bigger, better, smarter, safer and more efficient than its predecessor. True to its phylogeny it maintains excellent value for money in a highly competitive niche. Perhaps I should leave the last word up to my 11-year-old daughter El. "Can we keep this one Dad?" At $43,500, start saving princess!