Subaru Forester review

* Face-lifted Subaru Forester driven * Price 21,370-29,070 * On sale now...

Subaru Forester review

What is it? This is a more efficient and subtly face-lifted version of Subaru's Forester SUV.

Revisions to the 2.0-litre petrol model improve its average economy from 32.8mpg to 37.7mpg. Meanwhile, CO2 emissions fall from 199g/km to 173g/km, which is enough to put the new car five company car tax bands lower than its predecessor.

The 2.0-litre diesel gets revisions, too, including a new six-speed manual gearbox (the petrol makes do with a five-speed). Together, the changes help improve fuel economy from 44.8mpg to 47.9mpg and CO2 from 167g/km to 155g/km, dropping the car two tax bands.

Every Forester also gets minor visual tweaks. There's a new finish to the front grille, and the door mirrors and instruments have been redesigned.

What's it like to drive? The petrol engine generates more low-down torque than before, but it still needs to be revved beyond 3500rpm before it really comes alive.

You're much better off with the diesel (and not only because of its lower running costs). It feels strong from around 1500rpm, so requires fewer gearchanges in everyday driving.

The diesel is impressively refined, too, transmitting little vibration into the cabin, and staying hushed at a steady cruise. True, it gets a little gravelly when you flex your right foot, but the wind and road noise that the Forester generates at speed are more intrusive.

As before, every Forester comes with permanent four-wheel drive to boost traction on- and off-road. What's more, the suspension is good at soaking up bumps at all speeds.

The pay-off for this cushiness is a fair amount of body sway, and while the steering weights up a bit as you turn into bends, it's still short of feedback.

What's it like inside? Build quality seems rock-solid, but the dashboard design is rather bland, and there are too many hard and unappealing grey plastics.

The touch-screen infotainment system that controls most functions on higher-spec models also disappoints, because it's fiddly to use on the move.

Still, all-round vision is excellent, and there's a wide range of seat and steering wheel adjustment to help drivers of different sizes get comfortable.

Head- and legroom are generous in the front and rear, and it's easy to extend the decent-sized boot, because the rear seats are spring-loaded and released by levers just inside the boot opening.

Should I buy one? The Forester isn't as classy or good to drive as more road-biased rivals such as the Volkswagen Tiguan. However, if you live in the country and are looking for an SUV that's both spacious and reasonably rugged, the diesel Forester is worth considering.

Its fuel economy and emissions are now comparable with rivals', plus every version comes with self-levelling rear suspension, climate control, heated front seats and a premium sound system.

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