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2021 Subaru Forester Sport: Private Fleet Car Review.

Subaru is the little car company that does. It quietly churns away in the background, almost like extras in a television show, hoping to be recognised by the wider audience for its efforts. And so it should be. Its WRX is the stuff of legends, the Outback is a more than capable bi-linguist, speaking tarmac and soft-roading equally, and then there’s Forester.The chunky, wagon-looking, mid-sized SUV, is a perennial favourite. In late 2020 a mild facelift was given, and a new trim, Sport, was added. Priced at a breath under $46,850 driveaway, the Forester Sport is aimed at those that like their weekends to be just that little bit dirtier but with comfort.

Power comes from Subaru’s legendary flat, or boxer, four. It’s at 2.5L in capacity, producing 136kW and 239Nm. To get those you have to see well over 4,000rpm. Drive to all four paws is courtesy of a Constant Variable Transmission, and it’s a bit old school in that it prefers the spin to around 3,500rpm and sits there as velocity increases to highway rates, rather than the now more familiar change change change. There are programmed steps and the steering column has paddle shifts to take advantage of those. Our drive cycle took in around 40% highway and we saw a creditable 7.1L/100km as our final overall figure.Outside and inside, Subaru have splashed some red-orange, on the lower sills, centre console, and air-vents. On our white example, complete with black painted 18 inch alloys, wrapped in 225/55 rubber from Bridgestone’s Dueler range, it makes for an eye-catching combination.Inside, Subaru’s fitted water repellent cloth, in varying and pleasing shades, to the seats and door trims. There are map pockets on the backs of the driver and front passenger seats. The seats are super-easy to clean and vacuum when required. The cargo section has a tough-wearing carpet top floor that lifts to expose some polystyrene that houses the jack equipment, a couple of small storage spots, and covers the full sized spare wheel. There are four cargo hooks, a 12V socket, and a tab either side to fold the rear seats easily. Capacity starts at 509L. It’s also inside where the age of the platform is showing. Compared to offerings from Korea, and the brand’s Japanese competition, there are far more hard edges, more right lower side buttons for various functions, an a lack of the now seemingly mandatory stand along touchscreen. Also, no wireless charge pad for smartphones.

Although DAB tuner equipped, the software still isn’t as good in one small area as the competition. The data service shows the full artist and song info in other cars, Subaru’s shows only the first ten characters or so. The layout though is clean and eyeball friendly.Underneath the screen is a CD player slot, and more hard press buttons for audio, map, and more. Climate control is a touch old school, with dials rather than buttons. However, when the aircons cooling was engaged, it cooled very quickly in comparison to some.

Subaru also has a driver attention monitor and this is cleverly hidden in the top section of the binnacle that houses the info screen. Look away from the straight-ahead for a second or two and warning tone sounds, and an icon flashes up on the screen ahead of the driver. There is Subaru’s X-Mode to enjoy, and it’s operated via a dial in the centre console. It’ll switch between Mud and Gravel at the flick of a wrist and back to Normal at a press.On its last major update, the rear lights changed to a C-design, and are LED lit. These match the same shaped Daytime Running Lights in the headlight clusters. Forester has always had a no nonsense stance, and the assertive looking grille, lower air intake, and black chin insert continue that. In size the wagon design hides the 1,730mm height, which provides plenty of head space and in the Sport, has a full length glass roof. The length of 4,625mm and a wheelbase of 2,670mm put it right in the ballpark for its competition. And when getting slightly mucky, 220mm of ground clearance is there.

On start-up the boxer has a metallic note before settling quickly into its sonorous flat four burble. the exhaust mutes the tone and no doubt after-market specialists can help that part of the equation. the CVT, as mentioned, is a bit old school in approach and delivery, yet doesn’t unduly hold back performance. It is called Sport, after all. There’s enough urge, as a result, on acceleration, and once in its stride, the 2.5L does a suitable job of moving the Forester around. It’s responsive to the throttle which gives it great suburban manners and on a country-style highway run, is quiet and relaxed.The suspension is beautifully setup, with damping well sorted for its own quick response, yet soft enough to waft the Sport across even mild gravelly roads without upsetting the fluidity of the chassis. On a gravel road, the X-Mode ensures a more sure footed approach and peace of mind. Subaru’s SI-Drive can also be engaged depending on the driver’s whim, and in the Sport, it’s a two-mode, not three, program, dropping the more incisive Sport Sharp.

Subaru’s safety record is virtually peerless, and their Eyesight system , with the stereoscopic cameras, have lead the way. Backed by a five year and unlimited kilometre warranty plus capped price servicing, Subaru’s Forester Sport has seven airbags including kneebag, torque vectoring, Blind Spot Monitor, Side View Monitor (with a camera fitted to the left hand side exterior mirror), Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Keep Assist (and not as intrusive as some other brands), Lead Vehicle Start Alert, and Pre-Collision avoidance systems.At The End Of The Drive.

The Forester range is popular yet, oddly, almost invisible in one respect. It’s the not the sort of vehicle one hears about from mates and family as the vehicle of choice yet when out on the road they’re apparent and in good numbers. There’s a simple and good reason for that: they’re a bloody good car. It’s verging, though, on needing an update, but for the time being is still a willing and able performer.

Car courtesy of Subaru Australia, X-Mode definition courtesy of David Bonnici at WhichCar.

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