There is no let-up in growth of the Subaru Forester. A new model, the 2.5i Sport has been dropped in the middle of the latest seven-model Forester range, with a price tag of $41,990, plus on-road costs. Anchoring the MY21 list is the Forester 2.5i at $35,190 and topping the lot is the Forester 2.0 Hybrid S for $46,490. All are all-wheel drive.
All new Foresters share a reworked headlight design, with a darkened area around the main beam bulb. Also added across the range is automatic door lock / unlock and a Collision Detection Unlock function designed to unlock doors and tailgate in the event of a serious collision, reducing the chance of occupants becoming trapped.
Through the generations the Forester has grown from a compact all-wheel drive wagon to a genuine off-road sports utility vehicle, as evidenced by its ground clearance of 220 mm, making it a genuine go-almost-anywhere vehicle.
Along with this comes the bold styling of bumpers, muscular guards and a shoulder line emphasising this height. A variation on Subaru’s classic hexagonal grille, with aerospace-inspired motif, is joined by C-shaped headlights, repeated in the rear light design. LED lights help reduce power consumption and improve fuel efficiency.
The white Forester Sport on test was dressed up with blocks of racy black on grille and lights up front, orange side strip and roof highlights, plus dark metallic finish 18-inch alloy wheels.
I like it. It’s the kind of finish often found on European hot hatches from the likes of Renault.
The cabin has water repellent grey cloth trim with orange stitching. The orange theme is extended to air vent and gearshift lever panel borders.
Power window switches carry a chrome look edge and piano black surround can be found on the rear armrest cup holders. An internal rear gate and cargo space boast LED illumination.
A Multi-Function Display is situated at the top of the centre of the instrument panel. The 6.3-inch colour screen can be changed by using the steering wheel control switch, providing the driver and all passengers with easy-to-understand visual cues.
An 8-inch full colour touchscreen gives access to Apple CarPlay and Google Android Auto.
A liquid crystal display in the instrument cluster, between the gauges, includes driving and graphical information for driving and control. In-car satellite navigation is absent.
ENGINES / TRANSMISSIONS
The 2.5-litre direct injection four-cylinder horizontally opposed engine has power and torque peak at 136 kW and 239 Nm, respectively. Weight is down 1.9 kg against its predecessor, while noise is also reduced.
Subaru’s Lineartronic continuously variable transmission, with manual mode puts power to ground through all four wheels.
Autonomous emergency braking operates up to 80 km/h, looking out for pedestrians and cyclists as well as other vehicles.
Lane departures warning is augmented by lane keep assist, which operates between 60 and 145 km/h.
Additional standard Forester features include blin spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, rear parking sensors and rear AEB operating at low speeds.
A reversing camera is complemented by a front and forward kerbside camera which almost adds up to an all-round vehicle view. The Forester features seven airbags.
Sport by name, but not by nature, despite the visual pointers, the white Forester on test was left wanting for performance to match.
Subaru claims a fuel consumption of 7.4 litres per 100 kilometres on the combined urban / highway cycle. On test that blew out to 9.1 litres per 100 kilometres in a mix of suburban and open-road driving on bitumen (no dirt).
There was considerable wind noise from around the A-pillar and exterior mirror, while tyre noise on course road surfaces towards the upper speed limit, added to the cacophony in the cabin.
While on the subject, the bane of modern motoring, the regularity of warning beeps can be a bit schoolmasterish and wear thin. Who’s driving this thing, anyway?
Forester Sport has Subaru’s standard all-wheel drive system, which works well on bitumen and in soft-roading. X-Mode, activated by a button on the centre console, sets up the vehicle for snow / dirt or deep snow / mud by working on traction available to each wheel and combining control of the engine, transmission, brakes and other components.
Premium leather seat trim was not missed, bare legs being no match for hot summer sun. Rear seat leg room is good for the average-size adult. The boot area serves up 498 litres of cargo capacity with the seats up. Flick electric release levers at the sides of the boot and 1740 litres of space comes to hand.
Shopping bags can be hooked on the sides of the compartment and there’s one on the tailgate, plus four tie-down points to secure loose items. A cargo blind keeps things hidden and a 12 V outlet adds to cabin convenience.
The Forester has enjoyed a long run of success and the new 2.5i Sport, despite the ‘old’ engine, helps it continue to keep up with the latest in SUV design and technology. The price is not likely to see the buyer out of pocket too.
AT A GLANCE
Forester 2.5i (a) AWD $35,190
Forester 2.5i-L (a) AWD $37,440
Forester 2.5i Premium (a) AWD $40,440
Forester 2.5i Sport (a) AWD $41,990
Forester 2.5i-S (a) AWD $43,490
Forester 2.0 Hybrid L (a) AWD $40,490
Forester 2.0 Hybrid S (a) AWD $46,490
Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your local Subaru dealer for drive-away prices.
SPECIFICATIONS (Subaru Forester 2.5i Sport 2.5L 4-cylinder Boxer, petrol CVT automatic, AWD SUV)
Capacity: 2.498 litres
Configuration: Four cylinders horizontally opposed
Maximum Power: 136 kW @ 5800 rpm
Maximum Torque: 239 Nm @ 4400 rpm
Fuel Type: Petrol 91 RON
Combined Fuel Cycle (ADR 81/02): 7.4 L/100km
CO2 emissions: 168g per kilometre
DRIVELINE: Lineartronic continuously variable automatic, AWD
DIMENSIONS, WEIGHT AND CAPACITIES:
Length: 4625 mm
Wheelbase: 2670 mm
Width: 1815 mm
Height: 1730 mm
Turning Circle: 10.8 metres
Kerb Mass: 1551 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: 63 litres
Front: Ventilated disc
Rear: Ventilated disc
Five years / unlimited kilometres