Reader test: Subaru Forester
Brian Mallinson, Randburg
Having owned a Subaru Impreza 2.0R for two years, and been totally in love with its looks, handling and phenomenal build quality, it was with some trepidation that I ordered myself a new Forester XT - it really looks like Mommy's school wagon, doesn't it?
But it had to happen - the boys and their toys were getting bigger, and Mom's old Corolla was getting long in the tooth - and she had her eye on the Impreza!
So I dropped off the old Corolla at the Bruma dealership, who offered me a decent trade in, and drove away in my brand new white XT.
This immediately proved to be a completely different animal to any I had ever experienced.
It is the only completely effortless car I have ever driven. The power delivery is so unfussed and easy, you don't realise how rapidly you are gaining momentum, because there is no drama.
No wild screaming motor or bellowing exhaust, just a steady shove in the back that keeps on coming. And trust me, when you plant the foot, this Mommy's wagon is going to seriously embarrass most cars pulling away from a robot.
On the highway, the XT really shines. Hills don't exist. I travelled back from a dirt bike race at Van Reenen last year towing two bikes, and the XT went up the hill past the Harrismith Wimpy in top gear at 120, without slowing down or needing to gear back.
The torque is phenomenal. If you need to pass a truck quickly, pop it back to fourth, floor it, and this machine takes off like a jet plane! I ride bikes a lot, and this is the closest, on four wheels, I have had to the instant overtaking acceleration you get on a bike.
Off road, the car is outstanding. As long as you remember that it isn't quite as high off the ground as a Land Rover, you can pretty much go anywhere. I proved this over a rocky 4X4 trail in Limpopo, and also towed a trailer, four up, fully loaded over long distances in thick sand near Sodwana.
Consumption is good for this size motor - steady at 10 l/100 km, it's a bit more when towing or with a boat on the roof.
The build quality is marvellous and really has a German feel to it; the doors close with a nice solid thump.
Seriously, my only gripe with this car (as with the Impreza) is the nasty blind spot in the side mirrors! Come on Subaru, a little detail like that is dangerous and annoying, and very easy to fix.
I've driven many cars in my 40-odd years, and I can state with confidence that this XT is the best at what it does - takes me and my family wherever we want to go, quickly and safely. And the look on GTI drivers faces when I steek them from a robot - priceless!