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Private Fleet Car Review: 2019 Subaru Forester 2.5-i

Subaru‘s recently revamped Forester range has four trim levels. There is the 2.5i, 2.5i-L, the Premium recently reviewed, and the top of the range 2.5i-S. Subaru is on a winner with the revamp due to the room inside, the station wagon looks, and the excellent stand list of equipment. We reviewed the entry level 2.5-i version, priced at just over $38K drive-away, directly after the Premium.Mechanically the Foresters are identical. Subaru’s much vaunted Symmetrical All Wheel Drive partners with a 90% new 2.5-L petrol engine. Gone is the diesel and at the time of writing there is a hint of late 2019 for anything hybrid. All transmissions are CVTs and come with a very well sorted seven step Lineartronic programming. The engines are all the same and the 2.5-i was driven in a more urban based environment compared to the Premium. Consumption was never over 8.0L/100km with the final figure ticking off 7.9L/100km of standard unleaded from the 63L tank.The X-Mode drive system is standard throughout the range. The X-Mode is a system that acts directly on engine power, all-wheel drive, torque sharing at each wheel and on the brakes.With X-Mode activated, traction control becomes more sensitive. The computer will then react faster in the event that a wheel loses adhesion. It will look at which wheel it will be best to transfer the power of the engine to get out of the most difficult situations. The downhill grip control (HDC) analyzes the situation and manages braking below a speed of 20 km / h. By applying wheel-to-wheel braking, the system will allow the driver to release the brake pedal and focus only on the best direction to take.All Foresters ride on a well proven combination of McPherson struts and coil springs up front, with an independent double wishbone rear. The entry level 2.5-i felt slightly softer in tune than the Premium, with a sense of momentarily slower rebound and an ever so slightly plusher ride. But only marginally. The Tyre Pressure Monitoring System that is standard across the range also indicated the rears to be slightly less inflated that the front, oddly enough. The ride feel may have been down to the slightly different wheel and tyre combination, with 225/60/17s.Around town the Forester turned out to need a bit more of a poke of the fly-by-wire throttle to get going. In comparison to the country driven Premium, the low end of the rev range was found wanting, This contributed to the higher fuel consumption, as it does for any car driven purely in a suburban environment. There’s a sense of lag, almost like waiting for a large, single, turbo to spool up, before the CVT bites and gets the Forester underway.In traffic it’s a well balanced machine, with steering light but not fingertip twirly. It’s weighted just enough to need a small measure of push/pull, body roll in lane changing is minimal, but the tyres chosen from Bridgestone didn’t feel as if their wet weather grip was really up to the task either.Each of the corners have an independent braking sensor, and the pedal is instantly responsive to the touch. It’s a confident and positive system, pulling up the Forester straight and true consistently. In conjunction with the EyeSight forward monitoring safety system and pedestrian calibrated Autonomous Emergency Braking, it’s a very safe feeling the Forester provides.

Naturally there are the mandated safety systems such as Brakeforce Distribution and Brake Assist, Traction Control and the Active Torque Vectoring. Subaru has fitted Swivelling Headlights to all models and that can be disabled. That’s part of the Vision Assist package which includes Blind Spot Monitor, Lane Change Assist, and Rear Cross Traffic Alert.Instrumentation isn’t that different, being largely confined to the smaller 6.3 inch touchscreen in the dash, which is surrounded by high gloss piano black, and missing out on the Driver Monitoring System that the other three receive. That’s an infra-red scanner mounted in the upper centre dash binnacle that scans the driver’s face, looking for signs of inattention and tiredness.Interior trim is a bit more subdued than the Premium.There is less brightwork in the cabin but that’s balanced by the lighter shade of material used for the roof lining. It’s a shade somewhere between bone and cream, and enhances the otherwise austere look of the varying textures of black plastic. The seats are fully cloth covered, and have a interesting logo style pattern in the weave.The extra interior room comes courtesy of the subtle pulling and stretching of the chassis and sheet metal. The boot opening has been increased by 134mm, cargo by 78L, and floor width by 58mm. Exterior styling also loses a bit of brightwork, particularly in the lower bumper surrounds for the driving lights. The tail gate is manually operated and houses Euro style “C” shaped lights previously embedded in the outer cluster. Polyurethane wheel arch covers and sill coverings provide both extra protection and a neutral colour to contrast the sheetmetal. Up front Subaru has given the Forester a bluffer, more upright, nose.

Subaru offers a five year warranty. For servicing costs, contact your Subaru dealer directly.

At The End Of The Drive.
If you’re a driver and buyer that doesn’t need bells and whistles then the entry level Forester is for you. There’s enough standard equipment such as the DAB audio, USB ports, and the driving aids. The EyeSight system and associated safety mechanisms are enough for most. To find out more about the 2019 Subaru Forester range, go here.