Dec 6 2008 Maxine Ashford
Subaru Forester 2.0 XS
WITH off-roading capabilities, saloon-style luxury and blistering performance, the Subaru Forester simply has something for everyone.
And with a price tag that will leave the bank manager smiling, it's clear to see just why the Subaru has such established vehicles as the Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V and Nissan X-Trail in its sights.
The XS model I tried oozed power and on the cold frosty mornings, hugged the road surface with ease - but that is a quality you might expect from one of the world's greatest rally car manufacturers.
But the real beauty of the Forester is the endless number of features that are supplied as standard rather than adding a hefty bill to the original purchase price.
The basic model includes heated seats, heated mirrors and cruise control, but the XS model adds alloy wheels, leather seats, a large sunroof and a seven-speaker CD system plus a whole lot more.
Inside the light and airy cabin there is ample room for four adults - of the taller variety - to sit comfortably and with plenty of storage compartments throughout and a generously sized boot, they can bring along all their luggage requirements too.
Another feature of the Forester is the dual range transmission. Without being too technical a low or high ratio can be selected depending on the driving conditions which in effect offers 10 gears - five in high and five in low.
Add the all-wheel-drive and the Forester certainly offers a car ready for anything Mother Nature throws in its path.
And as one would expect from such an accomplished rally competitor, the safety specification is second to none and includes anti-lock brakes, electronic brakeforce distribution, numerous airbags and several shock absorbing measures to reduce injury to pedestrians in the event of a collision.
Comfort levels are high, visibility is excellent and to be perfectly honest, the Forester is a complete pleasure to drive.
Subaru Forester 2.0 XS
Price : £22,495
Mechanical : 150ps, 1,994cc, 4cyl diesel engine driving four wheels via 5spd manual gearbox
Max speed : 114mph
0-62mph : 10.6 secs
Combined mpg : 33.6
Insurance group : 10
CO2 emissions : 198g/km
BiK rating : 29%
Warranty : 3yrs/ 60,000 miles, 3yrs paint, 12yrs anti-rust