High-tech Forester lands in SA
SAFEST FORESTER YET: Japanese automaker Subaru hopes to earn its share of the SA 4x4 market with the safest version of its Forester yet.
Author: JANINE-LEE GORDON
The 2013 Subaru Forester has (finally) arrived in South Africa, along with Australia and the USA. Other world markets will follow, making SA one of the first countries to receive the 4x4.
The Japanese automaker has redesigned the car from the ground up; every nook and cranny has been tweaked and updated.
TOP-SELLER FOR SUBARU
When the car was launched in Japan in November 2012 the brand had a modest target of 2000 units. Two months later it was 8000.
Subaru SA's Ashley Lazarus said: "Since the first-generation launch in 1997 the car has been responsible for as much as 60% of sales. Back then it was a car suitable for driving needs with great versatility. The new Forester still has the initial concept of an SUV, while most competitors have evolved into urban vehicles."
The automaker claims it developed the new model by looking at it from a driver’s point of view, asking what he or she would want in an SUV. The Forester’s key pillars became "smarter, safer, further". Meaning not only does it boast a new design but it also houses improved technology and safety equipment and is more efficient than its predecessor.
Subaru’s engineers have thought of everything: they’ve looked at how the scenery is reflected off the bonnet so it doesn’t distract the driver and, since higher cars are prone to having more blind spots, they’ve fixed that, too.
LATEST GENERATION BOXER
The Forester has the latest Boxer engine, SI-drive and auto stop/start. It has 220mm ground clearance, all-wheel drive and Subaru’s new buzz item - X-Mode - a nifty little addition to help you get over slippery surfaces and up steep hills.
We drove the cars around Johannesburg and on an off-road trail just outside Magaliesburg. X-Mode hardly seemed necessary...
The Forester carries its legendary DNA as a true SUV and its capabilities as an off-road machine ring true. The X-Mode will come in handy during a Drakensberg winter and in stickier situations off the beaten track. Essentially, it centralises engine control by using the centre and rear differentials, brakes and traction control to aid descents on unstable or low-grip ground. The symmetrical all-wheel drive means there’s power being sent to all four wheels which makes for better control and twice the grip.
Subaru is known for its horizontal boxer engines which create a lower centre of gravity; and so it is in the 2013 Forester. There are five models, one of them turbocharged.
The first is the non-turbo, four-cylinder, two-litre with the only manual gearbox, a six-speed available in the X trim. It produces 110kW at 6200rpm and 198Nm at 4200rpm. CO2 emissions are 168 g/km.
The 2.5 Lineartronic constantly variable "auto" transmission models are available in three trim offerings - X, XS and XS Premium. Each has a 126kW/235Nm engine capable of 0-100 in 9.9 seconds and top speed of 196km/h. Carbon emissions 187g/km.
Topping the range is the turbo two-litre XT Lineartronic CVT. Although power is down from 193 to 177kW from the outgoing S-edition model, torque is up from 347 to 350Nm. Not much but the car is more fuel-efficient, claiming to be down from 10.8 to 8.5 litres/100km on the turbo and 9.3 to and 8.1/100km on the manual and CVT models.
The 0-100km/h is (claimed to be) faster by two seconds at 7.5 seconds and top speed is 210km/h. Emission are rated at 197g/km of CO2.
The CVT gearbox has a constant whine and is too revvy. City driving is smooth and pleasant but the transmission is cumbersome, never able to select the appropriate gear. Using the paddle shifts helped but the transmission still felt tedious.
PACKED WITH FEATURES
In terms of looks the model has come a long way since the first generation as it ditches its bland, boxy design. It’s a lot more sculptured, with an assertive nose on the XT version. The Forester sports 17" rims across the range, with steel rims on base models and alloys higher up. Larger wheel arches, strong lines, fog lights and distinctive headlights add to sporty stance. There are eight new body colours.
The interior is more tactile: soft facia and quality materials. Shoulder and elbow room is up while the centre console is curved for more legroom. Doors open wider and even the power tailgate on the higher spec models are height adjustable.
Standard features include a reversing camera, auto stop/start (manual model), cruise control, paddle shift on CVT models, roof rails, a rear spoiler, Bluetooth connectivity and a colour multi-function display.
The 2.5 XS Premium and XT models sport a sunroof, leather upholstery, auto on/off lights and wipers, keyless entry and a one-touch powered tail door.
On the safety front, there are seven airbags, a hooped passenger safety cell which directs impact energy around the compartment instead of through it, and Subaru’s vehicle dynamic control includes traction control. The Forester also has a limited-slip device and anti-lock brakes with emergency pressure assistance.
2.0 X 6MT - R329 000
2.5 X Lineartronic CVT - R359 000
2.5 XS Lineartronic CVT - R389 000
2.5 XS Premium Lineartronic CVT - R429 000
2.0 XT Lineartronic CVT - R529 000
All models are sold with a three-year or 75 000km maintenance plan and a three-year or 100 000\km warranty. Service intervals 15 000km.