What is it?
Fans of the quirky old Subaru Forester won’t recognise its replacement when it goes on sale here in April. This latest version has moved up a class. Subaru is launching a much larger soft-roader that’s set to compete in the growing compact ‘crossover’ SUV segment, instead of a quirky all-wheel drive estate. And this is our first chance to drive it in Europe.
Your immediately struck by the latest Forester’s size – it’s a very significant 75mm longer, 45mm wider and 110mm higher than its predecessor, dimensions that pit it head-to-head against Toyota’s RAV-4, Honda’s CR-V, the Nissan X-Trail and the forthcoming Ford Kuga. It’s got unashamed, functional, simple SUV styling too, moving away from the quirky but likeable looks of the old model.
To compete as a more premium car, this Forester has a more spacious, comfortable cabin and comes more generously equipped than before, though you have to go for the higher-end XS model, for example, to get alloy wheels, leather trim, a panoramic sunroof and electrically adjustable seats as standard.
It’s also been developed with more focus on driver enjoyment and on-road refinement, says Subaru. But it can still plod through the mud with 10mm more ground clearance than before and the symmetrical all-wheel drive system from the Impreza.