Woman's view - Subaru Forester

Can't decide between a rugged 4x4 and something more car-like? JUNE NEARY says Subaru's lastest Forester is for you.Will it suit me?I expected Subaru's Forester to be much more rugged - but the name caused me to jump to conclusions.

Can't decide between a rugged 4x4 and something more car-like? JUNE NEARY says Subaru's latest Forester is for you.

Will it suit me?

I expected Subaru's Forester to be much more rugged - but the name caused me to jump to conclusions. This is not a car for lumberjacks, more for ramblers and picnickers. That said, after an enjoyable weekend visit to the coast, my family and I decided that the all-wheel drive Forester had a good deal going for it.


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The practicalities

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What impressed me most was the attention to detail in the finishing. There are umpteen handy storage spaces inside, ideal for busy families. My husband found the tie-down points in the boot handy too. There's also an invaluable cover, which pulls across to hide any valuables you have to leave in the car. Although you're not as high off the ground as in a 'real' off-roader, the Forester is loftier than Subaru's other four-wheel drive cars which makes driving that bit easier. The seats are reached via an easy sideways shuffle and I appreciated the fold-down armrest when I wasn't driving, but it got in the way a bit at the wheel.

Behind the wheel

Subaru has made its name in producing rally-proven cars. The Forester is based heavily on the mechanicals and suspension of the mid-sized Impreza, the car that has earned Subaru so much World Rally Championship success, and it's great fun to drive. I tried the 150PS 16-valve, 2.0-litre four-cylinder taken from the non-turbo Impreza which still offers brisk performance with 0-62mph in just under 11 seconds and a top speed of 114mph. High-speed stability is surprisingly good, given its extra ground clearance compared with traditional family estates.

Value for money

The current, much improved Forester looks a little less cereal packet than the old car. The rising waistline and broader front end have given it more of a generic compact 4x4 stance. In fact it's 110mm taller than the old model, 45mm wider with another 90mm grafted into the wheelbase. Inside, there's a better quality interior but you still won't buy a Forester for its luxury ambience. The key appeals are the extra ground clearance and the promise of as much four-wheel driving ability as you can probably cope with. Compact and wieldy, it's big on practicality, roomy, versatile and, if recent customer satisfaction surveys are to be believed, almost impeccably reliable.

Could I live with one?

For sheer family practicality the Forester would be hard to beat. It might not win hands down on price but that rugged feel could well be the deciding factor.

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