The Subaru Forester feels like a welcome antidote to the ‘all mouth and no trousers’ approach favoured by some other soft-roaders. Indeed, in this basic spec it feels like it’s been designed as a durable workhorse capable of some light off-road work, rather than as a fashion statement. It’s not the most exciting car to look at, but neither is it offensive. It doesn’t have the most exciting or premium interior, either, but it’s comfortable and spacious and feels very durable.
Perhaps most surprising is how well sorted the car feels – it’s a comfy car to drive, if not especially inspiring to drive. It rides the bumps well, and will reach the parts other soft roaders simply can’t.
The boxer diesel engine is engaging, if not especially efficient by the standards of today’s best. Performance is stronger than the figures suggest, though. The petrol car feels weak by comparison, while its economy and emissions figures will ensure that it’s a bit player in the soft-roader sector.
In keeping with its utilitarian image, there’s plenty of space inside, especially in the rear, although the style and quality of the interior harks back a decade or so – it’s some way off the quality of most mainstream rivals, while the seat materials are of the hard-wearing, if not especially enticing, variety.
As a soft-roader with stronger than average go anywhere credentials, the Forester has plenty going for it, though. We quite like its honest charm, its reasonable equipment levels and the novelty of the boxer diesel engine. It may lack a little in the way of sophistication, but for many, its ability to do a job is far more important.