Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
Although Subaru has a rich heritage in the World Rally Championship, it would be unfair to assume everything it makes will be fun to drive. Even still, prospective thrill-seekers will feel a little short-changed with the Forester, because it really disappoints with its ride and handling.
With four-wheel drive as standard, there’s plenty of grip available, and it’s also decent off road, but the steering is spongy and slow. True, the soft suspension is good at taking the sting out of bumps, but it has a very fidgety ride at all speeds. On top of this, the Forester’s body leans heavily in bends, dives under braking and generally bounces around over most surfaces.
The 148bhp 2.0 petrol engine doesn’t really suit the car. It lacks low and mid-range punch, and this is especially noticeable if you specify an automatic gearbox. The Forester can tow up to 2000kg (the same as the Nissan X-Trail) and, if you’re planning on doing so, you'd potentially be better off with the range-topping 237bhp 2.0 turbo petrol unit, although we have yet to try this variant.
The lower-powered petrol engine makes a huge racket, because you have to rev it hard to keep your progress steady, although it settles to a background hum when cruising. The manual gearshift is notchy, while the automatic is slick but has a tendency to hold onto high revs for longer than is comfortable when accelerating.