Having a conversation in Subaru's new Forester SUV is like having a chat in a busy pub, writes car reviewer Tim Barnes-Clay, but he's otherwise impressed.
When the new Subaru Forester went on sale in the UK this May, it became the fourth-generation of this sport utility vehicle (SUV).
Prospects for the motor are good. Indeed, the Japanese brand believes the vehicle will become its most widely purchased model.
In 2012, the previous Forester accounted for 170,000 sales globally – that's 27 per cent of Subaru's total sales – with 15,000 sold in Europe.
The new 2013 fourth-generation Subaru Forester SUV is expected to do even better.
New Subaru Forester made with SUV buyers' in mind
More now than ever, the Subaru has the ease of use and level-headedness that appeals to motorists looking for an all-wheel-drive vehicle.
Fashioned around SUV buyers' core priorities, the Forester gives a lofty and authoritative driving position.
The motor has lots of space inside, external dimensions that are easily manoeuvred through busy city streets, and ease of access and exit.
Subaru has boosted the size of the cabin in the 2013 Forester by stretching the wheelbase and broadening the body, while boot size in the fresh model has also been improved.
That doesn't mean to say you're going to fit heaps of gear in because the boot is still rather shallow.
However, it's large enough for, say, a set of golf clubs, or a pram along with your supermarket shopping.
Subaru Forester: High-quality interior
The re-born Subaru Forester is also a smidgen taller, so the all-round result is a more airy interior than before.
What's more, Subaru has enhanced the cabin fabrics.
Better quality, softer, materials are now covering the dashboard, centre console and doors.
The former model had cheap slabs of plastic wrapped all around its insides.
Subaru Forester: Good engineering
On the move, it's apparent that a fat streak of good engineering runs all the way through the Forester.
Its high ground clearance and four-wheel-drive action allows the all-terrain competence that the SUV is well-known for.
When you're sat behind the wheel it's obvious a lot of thought has been given to the steering and gear shift.
It all feels very precise, whilst the switchgear, such as the indicator stalks, impart a damped feel.
What's more, the latest generation diesel Boxer engine under this test model's bonnet contributes to a low centre of gravity which is of assistance to balance and handling.
Five-star Euro NCAP crash protection rating
As well as being stable, this is a lively motor.
Security and robustness seem to exude from every metallic pore. Indeed, the Subaru was recently awarded the top five-star Euro NCAP crash protection rating.
The Subaru Forester, available with a petrol and a diesel engine, comes with a six-speed manual transmission, which I had in my mid-range 2.0D XC review model.
Lineartronic continuously variable transmission, otherwise known as CVT, is also available.
This is a type of automatic transmission that provides better fuel economy and a smoother driving experience than a traditional auto gearbox.
Subaru Forester noisy
There is still one thing Subaru could have done better, and that's noise suppression.
Having a conversation in a Forester is like having a chat in a busy pub on a Friday night.
But it does everything else so well that, after a while, you shrug your shoulders and accept that not everything in life is flawless.
If you buy a new Forester you'll have the peace of mind of a five-year, 100,000 mile warranty, plus a 12-year anti-corrosion guarantee.
2013 Subaru Forester SUV: Pros & cons
- Grip √
- Driving position √
- Well-engineered √
- Noisy X
2013 Subaru Forester SUV: Fast facts
- Max speed: 118 mph
- 0-62 mph: 10.2 secs
- Combined mpg: 47.9
- Engine: 1998 cc 4 cylinder 16 valve turbo diesel
- Max. power (bhp): 145 at 3600 rpm
- Max. torque (lb/ft): 258 at 1600-2400 rpm
- CO2: 156 g/km
- Price: £26,995 on the road
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