With many car manufacturers designing their SUVs to look sleek, fashionable and expensive, the Subaru Forester stands alone with its distinct boxy body and all the charms of a playful pit bull terrier. No one would mistake the Subaru for anything else, not when Forester’s chunkiness cannot be mistaken for anything else but a vehicle that majors in practical applications.
Yet, nothing is stopping Subaru from dressing up the SUV and calling it the Forester GT Edition. This variant clothes the Forester with a front bumper lip extension, side skirts, roof spoiler and rear bumper lip extension. The body kit enhances Forester’s look the same way as decorating the pit bull’s leather collar with studs; it does not add nor subtract any of Forester’s charm.
The interior isn’t forgotten — an eight-inch Display Audio System complete with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto now sits between the vertical air vents. On top, a slim information screen displays more of the vehicle’s real-time information, something geeky drivers can appreciate.
Despite the bright, modern screen, the dashboard appears relatively unsophisticated in design. The size of the switches, buttons and dials are large enough to recognise by touch alone, but the quality of materials used could be better. The piano-black trim does add visual depth right up until you touch it, leaving fingerprints. Thankfully, the satin metallic bits’ brings style to an otherwise drab interior.
On the other hand, the seats are bolstered to offer comfort not only on the straights but also on hold you in place when banking into corners with speed; more on this later. Both front seats are powered eight ways, making it easier to find the proper position.
Much of the same can be said of the rear seats, in that it is comfortable. Rear spaciousness also scores high with much room for head, shoulders and knees. One could even fit five adults at the back with space to spare, which many SUVs cannot boast about.
Motivation comes from a 2.0-litre boxer-four engine that produces 154hp and 196Nm of torque. The non-turbo engine is paired with a CVT, which transfers power to the wheels. Acceleration is lively from the get-go and very quickly settles into velvety speed.
Subaru’s SI-Drive mode is found here in its most basic form. You only have Intelligent and Sport modes to choose from. In Intelligent, the computer adjust throttle and transmission to deliver the best efficiency the vehicle can muster given load and the road in the name of fuel economy. In sport mode, the throttle becomes more responsive, and the CVT opens up to make overtaking easier.
This Forester is equipped with EyeSight, Subaru’s driver-assist system that employs two colour cameras that acts as an extra set of eyes. The system does what you expect it to, including putting you back in your driving lane, charging the brakes, and slowing down before you rear-end a vehicle and alert you when the front car has started moving.
What the Forester excels at is high-speed confidence. Subaru’s vast all-wheel drive experience really shows in the SUV’s ability to embrace the highway despite the road’s countless imperfections. No humps nor lumps on the road will put the Forester off-track.
That exact grip is even more evident on the back roads. Subaru’s Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive system is always on, which therefore affords grip to the SUV all the time. As with the straight road, the Forester hugs the corners just as tight as a hotter hatchback would. The Forester takes corners flatter than many of the SUVs in the market. Body roll is reigned in nearer than expected of a tall-ish SUV.
You could, if the mood strikes, take this off-road. The Forester’s Special X-Mode lets you set the chassis to take on the terrain before you. Snow/Dirt and D.Snow/Mud give the Forester the ability to tackle rougher terrain than most soft-roaders could.
The Subaru Forester checks all the boxes that one could ever want from an SUV. Its all-wheel drive system and off-roadworthiness, coupled with its graceful handling set the Forester apart from the competition. Versatile and practical, the Forester not only should be considered as a viable alternative but an SUV that sits on top of your shopping list.
Specification: Subaru Forester 2.0i-S EyeSight GT Edition
Engine 1,995cc, direct fuel injection, horizontally opposed, 4-cylinder, DOHC 16-valve | Transmission Lineartronic CVT, all-wheel drive | Power & Torque 154hp @ 6,000rpm / 196Nm @ 4,000rpm | Price RM177,788.00