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Subaru Forester diesel: Test Drive

Date: 14 October 2008   |   Author: Tom Webster

Category: Small 4x4
P11D price: £22,270
Key rival: Toyota Rav4

Now that it has the diesel engine it's been crying out for since its 1998 launch, Subaru's 4x4 Forester is finally equipped to take on the business car market.

It's the same refined and smooth engine that debuted recently in the Legacy and will make its way into the Impreza in December. It copes admirably with the extra weight of the Forester, and the addition of a sixth gear is very welcome. The gearbox is also much better spaced, and has no qualms about pulling away in second.

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The diesel will account for about 80% of Forester sales, and a quick glance at some stats explains why. Where the petrol emits 198g/km CO2 and has a fuel economy figure of 33.6mpg, the diesel achieves 170g/km and 44.1mpg.

If you think there's a performance compromise to account for these figures, you'd be wrong. Sure, the diesel never feels blisteringly quick, but it's just 0.3secs slower to 62mph at 10.0secs.

The Forester is generally good to drive, soaking up bumps with ease. However, if you do push it hard through a corner then the large amount of body roll will have you easing off before the next bend.

The cabin feels large, with the long glass roof making it light and airy. The black dash plastics are quite hard to the touch, and although they feel durable, the occasional soft-touch surface would have been nice. A lack of storage is another issue, with precious few places to pop things out of sight.

However, plenty of legroom and three three-point seatbelts in the rear mean five adults will be able to travel with ease, for short journeys if not long ones. The long-awaited arrival of a diesel Forester means they can also do so with a clearer ecological and business conscience.