Subaru Forester 2.5i-S

New car review.

The previous model Forester was popular and certainly one of the better offerings in its class. And the recently released fifth-generation Forester is even more compelling, thanks to the wide-ranging improvements it brings.

It’s now the third model, along with XV and Impreza, to adopt Subaru’s latest Global Platform architecture. The new underpinnings are significantly stiffer and stronger with greater torsional rigidity. There’s wider use of high tensile steel in the frame and body too. Combined with a raft of steering and suspension changes, the new Forester clearly displays improved dynamics, enhanced ride comfort and a quieter, smoother drive experience. Subaru’s engineers have struck an excellent balance between ride quality and confident, engaging handling.

All new Foresters use a responsive 2.5-litre petrol engine, which is now direct-injected and 90% new. Outputs are up by 10kW and 4Nm, while fuel consumption and CO₂ emissions both decrease. For the first time, the top specification 2.5i-S and 2.5i Premium below it both have SI-Drive. In I mode engine and gearbox are optimised for fuel efficiency, while S mode sharpens response for more lively performance. The Lineartronic CVT auto with seven pre-set ratios accessed via paddle shifters is the only gearbox. It’s one of the best and most natural feeling of this style of transmission we’ve experienced.

Forester exterior dimensions have grown slightly and there’s now more interior and cargo space on offer. The power tailgate is quicker in operation than the old model and now includes a lock button. We like the provision of a full-size alloy ‘spare’ too.

Interior design and finish quality have been upgraded and there’s a range of new practical features too. All-round visibility is good, and the cabin has a very light and airy feel. The centre rear seatbelt sash extends from the roof behind the seat, a less user-friendly arrangement than having it on the seat.

Subaru have been generous with safety features including the latest third-generation Eyesight driver assistance including reverse emergency braking, emergency lane keep assist, adaptive driving beam, and steering responsive headlights. A washer for the reversing camera is a clever addition too. There’s also a driver attention alert to help counteract distracted or drowsy driving, and a facial scanning and recognition system that can recall and set individual driver preferences for air conditioning, exterior mirror and seat position for up to five drivers.

Subaru

KEY STATS

  • MLP: $41,490 (plus on-road costs)
  • ENGINE: 2.5-litre, direct-injection petrol Boxer 4-cyl
  • ANCAP SAFETY RATING: Not yet rated
  • TAILPIPE CO2 (g/km): 168

FOR:

New model improvements, advanced safety features, good all-rounder, full-size spare wheel.

AGAINST:

Centre rear seatbelt sash extends from roof, price increased.