What is it?
The long-awaited diesel version of Subaru’s soft-roader, set to dramatically broaden its appeal.
Until now, the Forester’s considerable charms have always been tempered by its petrol-only choice of powerplants, but the arrival of Subaru’s flat-four turbodiesel should dramatically improve its appeal.
Despite using the same powerplant as the diesel Legacy, the diesel Forester is rated at 147bhp, 3bhp less than its bigger sister.
Apparently – and ironically – the Forester’s gaping bonnet scoop doesn’t let air flow as freely as the more subtle vent on the Legacy.
Underneath the Forester shares its platform and four-wheel drive system with the Impreza, which means struts at the front and a multi-link for the rear.
Like most of its soft-road rivals, it does without any off-road aids, Subaru having binned the low ratio transfer box of the old Forester.
What’s it like?
Decent to drive, if a bit bland to look at. Critically, the diesel engine brings some much-needed zip to the Forester’s mid-range performance – and also adds a pleasing compression-ignition take on the familiar Boxer ‘thrum’.
Subaru quotes a 10 second 0-60 time, but the Forester diesel actually feels keener and quicker than that.
The chassis is well-mannered, with decent grip, good balance and sufficiently confident body control to ride bumps with aplomb.
The steering feels a bit numb when you really push on, but otherwise it drives as tidily as a taller Impreza.
Dynamically the 2.0D’s biggest weakness is the gearchange quality from the new six-speed ‘box. It suffers from both a long throw and an obstructive quality, in stark contrast to Subaru’s normally sweet-shifting manual ‘boxes.
The company says it’s aware of the problem and that a fix is already in the pipeline.
As with petrol versions of the Forester, the interior can best be described as workmanlike with some pleasing shapes but hard plastics. At least it will wipe clean: the Forester feels far better-suited to work than most of its road-biased rivals.
Subaru claims the Forester returns 44.1mpg on the combined economy cycle, and CO2 emissions of 170g/km are extremely competitive for the segment.
Should I buy one?
The Forester has finally got the engine it’s always deserved. And, in creating a diesel version, Subaru has created an interesting and justifiable alternative to the large number of ‘me too’ soft-roaders currently on sale.
The diesel is the stand-out model in the range, and although it commands a sizeable premium over its petrol sister, it’s undoubtedly the better car.