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Tested: Foresters are from pricey heaven

2014-03-12 07:14


TWO MINDED: Wheels24's Janine-Lee Gordon recently tested the Subaru Forester. While it's lovely all-round, it's a guzzler that makes you think twice. Image: Subaru

What do you do when there’s a SUV parked outside the office?

Naturally, one would probably go bunda-bashing, but this is SA and just driving on any road here can be an excursion in the ‘wild side’ with road-raging drivers and taxi drivers who think they own the territory on the left of the yellow line.

So, I did the next best thing…

I loaded my loved ones, better half included, in the Subaru Forester – plus odd items of luggage – and said we're going on a road trip. Luckily, the weekend called for a significant family birthday celebration and I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to quit Cape Town for a while and visit my family on the West Coast at Saldanha Bay.

Image gallery: Subaru Forester

Just to get this out the way, the interior space, front and rear, is luxurious. And, considering my mother had not been ‘home’ for a while, plenty of boot space was pivotal - to and fro.

You see, Mom is a West Coast child, or ‘Weskus Kind’ as per the custom sticker on her car, and that means some sort of seafood will always make its way home with us. Be it a fresh snoek and stock for her famous mussel pies.

Or a tray of cupcakes.

So the space for cooler boxes was hugely welcome.

Just as was the automatic tailgate, which can be height adjustable, too. I found it most convenient in our garage. Often the space between the last car in and the door is tight for a boot to open flat and straight out but the Forester’s boot can open to just the right height to avoid it clashing with the closed garage door.

VIDEO: Subaru Forester

Then, on our way, I convinced my cousin to come along too. In turn, she spotted her grandson in Malmesbury’s CBD and tagged him along too – his parents only found out later that evening.


But, if you’re the unrich type,the Forester is not for you. It’s a guzzler of note and I’m hardly exaggerating. If I’m going to spend that kind of money on filling the tank I’d opt for a car that justifies its consumption and agrees with my heavy foot.

The open road saw an average fuel consumption of 13.7 litres/100km. The best I managed all week with the car on test was 9.8 in peak traffic en route to work in Cape Town from Somerset West.

That said, I have to mention that I had the Forester during the crazy heatwave in February. Passing through the Swartland near Malmesbury saw temperatures at a sweltering 45 and even higher as we passed through Hopefield. The dual aircon was at full blast all the way.

That, and the fully loaded car - no empty seat and a packed boot - fuel consumption was not going to dwindle to low figures in any case.

But I like the Forester, and there are many little things about the car that play in its favour.


For one, there’s the high seating position for driver and front passenger on adjustable seats. The Forester is a reasonably sized vehicle and it helps being able to see what’s in front of the bonnet when driving on the long road.

It has big door pockets for water bottles and things – yes, I'm a gatherer of stuff, needed or not, yet I don’t carry a handbag. That’s what my boyfriend and storage compartments in cars are for, like the deep compartment between the front seats for bulky purses, hair clips and more water bottles.

While my boyfriend liked all those things too, he was more pleased about how fast the car was, especially how it picked up speed.

I also like that the rear legroom provides enough space for the passengers to sit comfortably and that there’s even enough space under the front seats to keep the ‘padkos blikkies’ - filled with biscuits and everything nice - out the way.

Another nicety is the large sunroof which slides open all the way back, perfect for hot summer days and drives along the beach. Cue wind in the hair and my boyfriend and I pretending to be John Travolta/Olivia Newton-John’s singing Summer Nights' from 'Grease'.


It goes, it’s comfortable and, once you’re set on the long road, the little niggles are forgiven - forgotten, even. There’s terrible turbo lag coming from the 2.0-litre boxer petrol turbo engine even with 177kW/350Nm on call. Top speed is 210km/h.

And of course the heavy fuel consumption is a constant pain in the rear, er, wallet.

I had the XTall-wheel drive model on test, with Subaru’s six-speed Lineartronic CVT 'auto' gearbox. That meant it came with SI-drive (which adds two extra gears) and auto stop/start and X-Mode – a driving aid to help you get over slippery surfaces and up steep hills.

Standard goodies in this unit also included leather upholstery, auto on/off lights and wipers, and keyless entry.

As cool as the latter feature is, keyless entry is still not one of my favourite things, but, perhaps it was the heat that made me forget to turn off the ignition, or the fact that the car idles so quietly.

Nonetheless, I was grateful for the gardener who came to ask, albeit 20 minutes later, why the car was still idling....

If I had to choose a car for the holidays, or even a weekend joy ride, I’d go for this car again… but only I discover oil under my garden.

Subaru Forester 2.0 XT Lineartronic CVT - R529 000

For more info, visit the Subaru website.

Read more on:    subaru  |  road test

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