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).

Arts and Entertainment
The cast of The Big Bang Theory in a still from the show
tvBig Bang Theory filming delayed by contract dispute over actors' pay
England celebrate a wicket for Moeen Ali
sportMoeen Ali stars with five wickets as Cook's men level India series
Morrissey pictured in 2013
peopleGuitarist, who played with Aerosmith, Lou Reed and Alice Cooper among others, was 71
Arts and Entertainment
High-flyer: Chris Pratt in 'Guardians of the Galaxy'
filmThe film is surprisingly witty, but could do with taking itself more seriously, says Geoffrey Macnab
Life and Style
food + drinkVegetarians enjoy food as much as anyone else, writes Susan Elkin
Life and Style
lifeDon't get caught up on climaxing
Life and Style
Arts and Entertainment
Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe), Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) and Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint)
newsBloomsbury unveils new covers for JK Rowling's wizarding series
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

    1st line call logger/ User access administrator

    £9 Per Hour: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Warrington a...

    Shine Night Walk 2014 - 'On the night' volunteer roles

    Unpaid Voluntary Work : Cancer Research UK: We need motivational volunteers to...

    Accounts Assistant (Accounts Payable & Accounts Receivable)

    £23000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Accounts Assistant (Accounts Payable...

    Senior IT Trainer - Buckinghamshire - £250 - £350 p/d

    £200 - £300 per day: Ashdown Group: IT Trainer - Marlow, Buckinghamshire - £25...

    Day In a Page

    Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

    The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

    With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
    Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

    How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

    As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
    We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

    We will remember them

    Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
    Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

    Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

    Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
    Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

    Acting in video games gets a makeover

    David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
    Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

    Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

    Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
    Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

    Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

    Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
    Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

    Spanx launches range of jeans

    The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
    10 best over-ear headphones

    Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

    Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel
    Commonwealth Games 2014: David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end

    Commonwealth Games

    David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end
    UCI Mountain Bike World Cup 2014: Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings

    UCI Mountain Bike World Cup

    Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings
    Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

    The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

    The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
    A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

    A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

    Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
    Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

    Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

    How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
    Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

    From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

    He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star