By Clive Funizwe
We first sampled the Subaru Forester back in 2019 and that initial acquaintance left a lasting impression, one that was very positive. So, when we heard that a refreshed specification with a bigger engine was coming our way – we could not wait to reacquaint with some sensibility. We say sensibility because the Subaru Forester is type of car that qualifies as a car of the year from the word go.
New Engine and exterior
The Subaru Forester enters 2021 in a 2.5 Sport ES CVT specification to add to the existing 2.0i CVT and 2.0i-S ES CVT, respectively. Looks and styling are always subjective – but the Forester Sport received nods of approval from onlookers so we can safely say it is very easy on the eye. Upfront it gets the ‘Hawkeye’ LED headlamps, fog lights, a large grille and underguard treatment for when the weekend off-road trips call you. Also making the weekend trips easier are redesigned roof rails that make it easier for tying ropes and straps.
The interior in the Sport ES gets contrast stitching across the cabin and a high-quality fabric (but leather on higher models). Overall, the quality of materials throughout the cabin is exceptional right through to the boot which has easy to clean materials. Practicality is an on-going theme with the Forester. The doors open wide, side sill steps are anti-slip, rear-seat pockets can fit large items and have cut-outs for mobile gadgets thus giving the rear passengers front seat comfort.
Speaking of the front, the dash ergonomics do not leave you second guessing yourself. It is not touch screen overkill and everything is logically laid out and switchgear feels reassuringly tactile. The 8-inch touchscreen infotainment supports Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, and you can connect your mobile phone using a USB or bluetooth.
The Sport ES also gets Subaru’s EyeSight Driver Assist System which that makes use of a camera-based technology and integrates driver features like Sway Warning and Lane Keep Assist, Adaptive Cruise Control, Automatic Pre-Collision Braking and Adaptive Cruise control. We ran into situations which enabled us to take note of how well the system works.
At traffic lights and parking lots, there is always someone giving you directions or selling you the current newspaper. The system would pick up the people and alert you through a beep and/or brake for you. Now this is alarming, if you will excuse the pun, at first – but you get used to it and appreciate the assistance which does not feel as intrusive after a few times of activation.
Drive and final word
Overall, we continue to rate the Forester as top contender in its category. We anticipated that the 2.5l engine will be thirstier than the 2.0l derivative but it was not. It offered better power and smoothness and for the most part we averaged a respectable 8.5l/100km’s. This too is a stamp of approval on the value and perceived robustness that the Forester will be without a turbo charged engine. This is one to be shortlisted for the potential buyer.
The Forester Sport 2.5i-s ES CVT comes with a 5-year/150,000 km warranty and 3-year/75,000 km maintenance plan – and is priced at R599, 000.
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