First Drive in NZ: All-New Subaru Forester High On Refinement, Space


Just been driving the new Forester XT turbo in New Zealand, and it's the first Subaru Turbo I've driven with a CVT.I had mixed feelings about how that transmission would work with the turbo, but I guess that the fact that Subaru's new third generation Lineartronic is going to be used with its new range of European market turbodiesels in both the Outback and Forester later in the year means that it will take the torque.
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 around work, and open-road driving very decorously.
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 dispatched overtaking maneuvers with great aplomb.
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, Subaru may see the car cannibalising Legacy/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 dashboard 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 in darker tones, but the off-white car seems too busy in the gum-shield like front bumper area. From rear and side-on, you can tell it's a Forester and that's no bad thing, though I'll make mine charcoal or even darker, thanks.
The new Forester arrives in New Zealand showrooms in February 2013 in direct-injected atmospheric 2.5L and turbo 2.0L forms. The 2.0 Turbodiesel version gets here later in the year.

Article and Photos By Dave Moore
Dave Moore, based in Christchurch, is a Group Motoring Editor at Fairfax Media New Zealand.




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