2013 Subaru Forester
2013 Subaru Forester
Making up the numbers at the New Zealand Subaru BRZ launch this week, was an extra drive car in the form of the 2013 Subaru Forester, a car that's not due to be launched until early in the New Year.
Information on the new model is pretty thin on the ground, but we do know that the new Forester has grown. At 4595mm, it’s 35mm longer than before, while it's 15mm taller and 20mm wider.The new car also rides on a 25mm longer wheelbase, which gives it new-found space and airiness out back.
Cosmetically, the new model has a distinctive crease running down its flanks, just under its waistline, while the new grille introduced with the latest Impreza is also included, along with solid-looking squared-off new bumpers and alloy wheels.
Overall it’s a much neater, less quirky design, though from the front in its paler tones, it isn't the prettiest of recent Subarus.
Equipment changes include a new infotainment centre with smartphone integration, along with sat-nav, a reversing camera and - in most markets - an upmarket Harmon Kardon sound system.
The 2014 Forester should be available with two petrol engines: the base 2.5-litre boxer four will make 127kW and drive through a six-speed manual in the entry-point model, with a CVT also available. .
A new 186kW 2.0-litre direct-injection turbocharged flat-four - the one in our briefly-driven review car - will be exclusively matched to a CVT.
The fourth-generation Forester will also get a modified version of Subaru’s 2.0-litre turbo diesel, putting out 112kW and for the first time with a CVT auto.
The Forester XT turbo is the first Subaru turbo I've driven with a CVT. I had mixed feelings about how such a transmission would work with the turbo, but I noticed no disconcerting flare - often a bugbear with CVTs and more powerful engines - and loved the way the car stepped smoothly off the line, settling into low-revving cruise mode for town, and getting the job done on the open road.
Well-chosen gearing allows the Forester to surf along on its low to mid-revolution biased torque curve, which will allow pretty useful economy in normal running, while the surge of energy on tap when you mash the throttle is very pleasing. With a rise in engine pitch, the Forester XT quickly catches up with itself in that distinctive CVT way, and dispatches overtaking manoeuvres with ease.
Ride quality appears improved, with attention obviously focused on impact damping, so any bash and crash over potholes is well insulated from the cabin.
The car feels as roomy inside as a generation old Legacy/Outback, with particularly useful rear legroom.
This shows that the Forester is placed to slot in neatly ahead of the XV, though with the extra space, the car may cannibalise Liberty/Outback sales.
The car's dash treatment is an improvement, with better choices of texture and a simpler layout than the old car's. Particularly useful are the dashtop mounted readouts. My preview car had Eyesight as standard, and though it's a nice accessory, it does get confused with paint spills!
Most disappointing is the car's styling. It doesn't look too bad from the side and rear, but the off-white car seems too busy in the jutting front bumper area. From rear and side-on, you can tell it's a Forester and that's no bad thing, though we'd make ours charcoal, or even darker, thanks.