Subaru's latest Forester has only been on sale in the UK since the summer but it’s already winning a lot of friends.
Now in its fourth incarnation the new model is one of those cars that offers the best of all worlds – good performance, space in abundance when you need it, flexibility and refined motoring.
And it’s not until you live with a car for a week or so that you realise just how user friendly it is.
The new model is longer, wider and taller and that means far more interior space and a big boost in boot space.
And if you need to transport large items – as I did – lowering the rear seat backs and the front passenger seat back until it was almost flat gave me the carrying capacity of a small van.
Add to that a generous amount of useful on-board compartments, like a deep centre armrest box, a glove box and spacious door pockets and you have a very well thought out family car.
A totally new design means the latest generation Forester is far more stylish, and even far more trendy that its predecessors.
Sticking to Subaru tradition, my test car was powered by the company’s ubiquitous flat four boxer engine but in the Forester it’s particularly quiet and refined, feeling more like a six-cylinder unit that four.
Combined with a CVT gearbox this 2.0-litre petrol engine, while not over fast on take off, certainly had an abundance of pulling power which was particularly noticeable with five people and luggage on board.
If you do need quicker acceleration you have the option of switching to Sport to give you a little extra zip. And if you fancy driving the car manually rather than relying on the auto gearbox you can, with paddles behind the steering wheel.
And while this car is capable of tackling tough off-road terrain, thanks to its four-wheel-drive, it’s ride on the highway is impressively smooth. It seems to iron out all the bumps and despite its high stance – giving you plenty of headroom – there is no tendency for roll on corners.
That extra height also means the seats are set at a higher level than on traditional hatchbacks, making entry and egress much easier.
When driving off-road if you encounter steep downhill gradients you have the option to activate the hill descent control system with the push of a button, to give you slow, stable travel. I liked the abundance of creature comforts on board, like heated front seats and an electrically adjustable driver’s seat, not to mention the useful rear view camera for safe reversing.
The new Forester is also an exceptionally safe vehicle and comes with the full five-star Euro NCAP crash safety rating.
It’s definitely one of those cars which grows on you. Borrow one for 24 hours and you will be sold.
Model: Subaru Forester XE CVT
Mechanical: 1995cc, 4 cyl, 150bhp petrol engine driving all wheels via CVT automatic gearbox.
Max Speed: 119mph
0-62 mph: 11.8 secs
Combined MPG: 43.5
CO2 Emissions: 150g/km
Insurance Group: 23E