I have something of budget used car obsession, and recently I have discovered how affordable the Subaru Forester is. I now can’t stop thinking about it.
There are plenty of cheap four-wheel drive vehicles worth consideration if you’re after winter transport, but the Forester is the ultimate cheap buy. After all, for many buyers a four-wheel-drive is very much a seasonal/on-demand thing that isn’t needed for much of the year.
So why spend a lot, when you can buy an early Subaru Forester for less tha £1000. Granted, for this you’ll be buying high mileage (think over 200,000), but inch up the market slightly and you’ll find less heavily used examples for not much more, and £2k will buy you a really clean one.
Not only is this utilitarian wagon cheap, it’s also got a classless image, a seriously effective four-wheel drive system and a good reputation for reliability.
Of course, you can also have the bonkers S-Turbo version (think very high fuel bills and a lot of entertaining green-light moments), but the manual naturally-aspirated 2.0-litre four pot would be my choice if it’s an all-weather motor you’re after.
Even in this version you’ll only return around 30mpg from the not very eco-conscious 2.0-litre petrol motor, but given that you can get high-spec models that include heated seats and air-con, with mileage around the 100,000 mark for £1600 I’d forgive it that.
I adore stuff like this because it proves how much car you can get without spending a fortune. It could out-manoeuvre many modern 4x4s in serious mud/snow/wet grass/ conditions because it’s got proper low- and high-ratio gearing, but the whole car costs roughly as much as a set of new alloys would set you back on a new SUV.
The Forester really is the greatest option for winter motoring. Perhaps this and my Toyota MR2 would be the ultimate all-season garage, for that ‘budget-chic’ look all-year round. And both put together would cost less than £5k to buy. Tempting.