Motoring review: Subaru Forester XT

'It's a new Subaru but where is the Impreza magic?'

Price: £30,995
Engine capacity: 2.0-litre petrol
Power output (ps @ rpm): 240 @ 5,600
Top speed (mph): 137
0-62 mph (seconds):
Fuel economy (mpg): 33.2
CO2 emissions (g/km): 197

Far too many hours of my semi-misspent youth were spent hammering around country lanes in a noisily tuned Subaru.

Sure, it was in a pixelated version of the famous Impreza WRX in the late Colin McRae's eponymous 1998 video game (and its many sequels), but those hours spent ruining my eyes in front of a PC did nothing if not imbue a fondness for the Japanese manufacturer.

The Forester, Subaru's bulky crossover SUV, may lack the cool of those classic Impreza's – and certainly the brand has faded in the UK since those heady nineties' days – but it has improved its looks significantly in its new fourth generation. Formerly a boxy beast, this is a car you'd take home to meet your mother.

The sporty grills on the XT model that I tested give the Forester an air of unreconstructed power, and while its 2.0-litre petrol engine doesn't always back that up on the road, it still carries a certain swagger.

But – as the legions of Subaru devotees in the UK will tell you – swagger is in the eye of the beholder. And the new Forester certainly has enough to recommend itself as your new drive.

Its 240ps engine makes easy work of pulling along its two tons of metal in most situations, though it lacks grunt when overtaking – especially in a fully-loaded car. Loading it is no problem either. I took four passengers camping and we managed to fit everyone's tents, sleeping mats and wellies in with minimal fuss into the 60-litre boot.

The campsite's rocky entrance also offered a good opportunity to test out the Subaru's suspension and 4x4 capability. An empty field and a few twists and turns may have sent my passengers a bit green, but the dry weather and reactive suspension certainly retained an air of control. The car's X-mode (which softens the throttle response and helps with descents) also makes off-road handling slightly McRae-like. Slightly.

Elsewhere, the roomy cabin boasts a nice leather trim and the XT model features a huge panoramic sunroof that opens up the whole cabin (so big that I had to close it after a few minutes to avoid burning). The XT also comes with 18-inch alloys, satnav and the usual in-cab modcons. It's not quite luxury, but it's not a million miles away.

And, though the drive is smooth, quiet and consistently paced, it's lacking what one clever copywriter once dubbed "va-va-voom". For those raised dreaming of a souped-up Subaru (or, like Ryan Giggs, who went out and bought the full Colin McRae-spec version) it's not going to make your blood pulse.

However, like many of its close rivals, such as the Hyundai ix35, it looks smart, performs decently and is unlikely to let you down as a generously proportioned family car.

As the XT is the two-litre turbocharged version at the top end of the Forester range, I'd be tempted to splash out not a great deal more (around £1,500) for a basic BMW X3 SE. Or, if it was time to treat oneself, hoick up to the X3's M Sport range (from £34k) – the most fun I've had in a 4x4 ever (and What Car's reigning SUV of the year to boot).

The Banksy image in Folkestone before it was vandalised
Life and Style

Sales of the tablet are set to fall again, say analysts

football West Brom vs Man Utd match report: Blind grabs point, but away form a problem for Van Gaal
Arts and Entertainment
Gotham is coming to UK shores this autumn
tvGotham, episode 2, review
Arts and Entertainment
Bloom Time: Mira Sorvino
tvMira Sorvino on leaving movie roles for 'The Intruders'
First woman: Valentina Tereshkova
peopleNASA guinea pig Kate Greene thinks it might fly
Brian Harvey turned up at Downing Street today demanding to speak to the Prime Minister

Met Police confirm there was a 'minor disturbance' and that no-one was arrested

Arts and Entertainment
George Lucas poses with a group of Star Wars-inspired Disney characters at Disney's Hollywood Studios in 2010

George Lucas criticises the major Hollywood film studios

Chris Grayling, Justice Secretary: 'There are pressures which we are facing but there is not a crisis'

Does Chris Grayling realise what a vague concept he is dealing with?

Life and Style
A street vendor in Mexico City sells Dorilocos, which are topped with carrot, jimaca, cucumber, peanuts, pork rinds, spices and hot sauce
food + drink

Trend which requires crisps, a fork and a strong stomach is sweeping Mexico's streets

Life and Style
The charity Sands reports that 11 babies are stillborn everyday in the UK
lifeEleven babies are stillborn every day in the UK, yet no one speaks about this silent tragedy
Blackpool is expected to become one of the first places to introduce the Government’s controversial new Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs)

Parties threaten resort's image as a family destination

Life and Style
Northern soul mecca the Wigan Casino
fashionGone are the punks, casuals, new romantics, ravers, skaters, crusties. Now all kids look the same
Life and Style

I Am Bread could actually be a challenging and nuanced title

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Year 5 Teacher

    £80 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Year 5 Teacher KS2 teaching job...

    Software Developer

    £35000 - £45000 Per Annum Pensions Scheme After 6 Months: Clearwater People So...

    Systems Analyst / Business Analyst - Central London

    £35000 - £37000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Systems Analyst / Busines...

    Senior Change Engineer (Network, Cisco, Juniper) £30k

    £30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ampersand Consulting LLP: Senior Change ...

    Day In a Page

    Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

    Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

    Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
    British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

    British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

    Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
    Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

    Salisbury ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities

    The city is home to one of the four surviving copies of the Magna Carta, along with the world’s oldest mechanical clock
    Let's talk about loss

    We need to talk about loss

    Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
    Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

    Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

    Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
    Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

    'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

    If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
    James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

    The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

    Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
    Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

    Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

    Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
    Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

    Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

    Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
    How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

    How to dress with authority

    Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
    New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

    New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

    'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
    Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

    Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

    The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
    Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

    Tim Minchin interview

    For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
    Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

    Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

    Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
    Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

    Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

    Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album