Although Subaru has a rich heritage in the World Rally Championship, it would be unfair to assume everything it makes will be fun to drive. Even still, prospective thrill-seekers will feel a little short-changed with the Forester. It really disappoints with its ride and handling. With four-wheel drive as standard there’s plenty of grip available, and it’s decent off road too, but the steering is spongy and slow. True, the soft suspension is good at taking the sting out of bumps, but it has a very fidgety ride at all speeds. As well as this, the Forester’s body leans heavily in bends, dives under braking and generally bounces around over most surfaces.
The 148bhp 2.0-litre petrol engine doesn’t really suit the Forester. It lacks low and mid-range punch, so it feels underpowered if you have a fully loaded car. This is especially noticeable if you specify an automatic gearbox. The 145bhp 2.0-litre diesel is a much better bet. It pulls strongly however many revs you give it, making it impressively flexible. The Forester can also tow up to 2000kg (the same as the Nissan X-Trail) and if you’re planning on doing so, you're definitely much better off with the diesel engine. We're yet to drive the range-topping 247bhp 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol unit.
The lesser-powered petrol engine makes a huge racket because you have to rev it hard to keep your progress steady, although it settles to a background hum when cruising. The diesel is smoother and quieter but still makes a lot of noise above 3000rpm. The manual gearshift in both models is notchy, while the automatic is slick but has a tendency to hold onto high revs for longer than is comfortable when accelerating.
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