Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Robust Forester's Better Looking

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Robust Forester's Better Looking

Article excerpt

Byline: By Malcolm Robertshaw

When, in the autumn of 1997, Subaru opted to branch out into the world of the Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV), it introduced the Forester into the UK car market. This competitively priced family leisure 4x4 was created to rival the Land Rover Freelander and Honda's CR-V, the other new members of the club which was originally started in 1994 by Toyota's RAV4.

One of the first so-called Crossover Sports Utility Vehicles to provide on and off-road ability in estate car form, the Forester then opened up its trophy room in September, 1997 by lifting the Caravan Club's Towcar of the Year 1998 title before adding further to its towing award-winning prowess in 2004 and 2005.

Before celebrating its one-millionth Forester at the beginning of last year, the Japanese car maker introduced an extensively face-lifted range which resulted in a new, bolder, stronger looking and better equipped range with thoroughly revised engines and suspension set-ups.

Further revisions have followed for the current year and, while the earlier generation Foresters were not exactly renowned for their head-turning good looks, the 2007 range comes with an even stronger road presence. The extensive front-end makeover includes new wings, bonnet, bumper and deeper grille flanked by four-globe headlamps swept back into the front wings, which help to lift the perceived height of the Forester, plus, the visual dynamics are also added to further by larger wheels and some clever design cue changes to the rear.

In a range starting from pounds 17,650 for the naturally aspirated two-litre 156bhp X model, the Forester line-up also includes a 2.5-litre 230bhp turbo petrol engine and, with both engines offering manual or automatic transmission, hugely generous standard trim levels are available.

The entry level 2.0 X model includes the likes of front and side airbags, air con, electric windows all round, large, towing-friendly door mirrors which fold and are electrically manoeuvrable, speed sensitive power steering, four-speaker sound system with CD, full-time All-Wheel-Drive, a hill-holder clutch to delight the caravanners, and ABS braking with Electronic Brake Distribution (EBD).

The XC and XT add climate control, heated front seats, cruise control, seven-speaker sound system plus six-stacker CD with steering wheel mounted controls and an electric sliding sunroof, while XEn and XTEn trimmed models come complete with the full monty, including satellite navigation, full leather trim and front fogs.

In the spotlight here is the Subaru Forester 2.5-litre XTEn which, unlike some traditional 4x4s, provides easy access to all parts via wide-opening doors which close with a reassuring thunk as you settle into the supportively comfortable leather seating housed in a much more imaginative cabin set-up where style and practicality come together to agreeably join with family-style serviceability. …

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