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Mention the name Subaru to many in Ireland and eyes will light up as they recall the great days of the Impreza in the sport; however there is more to this Japanese brand- such as the best selling Forester. I have driven the Forester on many occasions, both on and off road, and my recent experience came when I spent a week with the new Forester e- Boxer.

Now with a completely new powertrain, the e-Boxer, which combines an electric motor with two of Subaru’s core technologies: the horizontally-opposed Boxer engine and Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive. The new model is built on the Subaru Global Platform; a cutting-edge re-design of the body and chassis and in its latest guise it offers advanced safety performance and a dynamic driving experience. Safety has always been high on the priority list and Subaru Plus; new technology ensures that the new model is safer than ever as EyeSight driver assist technology; Subaru Rear Vehicle Detection, Reverse Automatic Braking, and Driver Monitoring System are all standard across the range.

Amidst a sea of soft and curvy car shapes, I have to admit I find the exterior styling of the new model, refreshed and more substantial which ensures the most spacious and capable Forester to date, featuring a high-quality interior, versatile boot space and 220mm of ground clearance. When it comes to tough driving conditions, this member of the Subaru family is not soft as it is perfectly suited to any on road or off road surface and with the upgraded X-Mode the dial can now switch between two modes, adapting to the most extreme weather and road conditions. The combination of a two litre direct injection horizontally opposed petrol engine with an electric motor works extremely well and a lithium-ion battery unit is mounted within the boot floor and allows for pure-electric driving at speeds of up to 40kph (25mph). Paired with an updated Lineartronic transmission and Subaru’s Symmetrical All Wheel Drive, the new model achieves smooth, linear, acceleration and highly responsive torque. Power-split adjusts according to the driving condition and alternates between three driving modes: EV driving, Motor Assist driving and Engine driving. EV Driving, at low speeds, power is by the electric motor alone for quiet, zero emission driving and it can drive in full electric mode for distances of just over a kilometre and reach speeds of up to 25mph. Motor Assist Driving; and at medium speeds, the motor and the engine work together to improve power and performance while Motor Assist driving improves off-road ability as it generates earlier torque when using X-Mode and also assists when towing; worthy of note towing capacity is 1,870 kg. At higher speeds Forester is driven solely by the petrol engine and according to speed and driving conditions, the engine will recharge the battery in preparation for the next use.

We all like our comforts and entertainment when it comes to travel and with the latest Forester it is 20mm wider and 30mm longer than the previous model and the increased exterior dimensions provide improved passenger comfort as the distance between the front seats has correspondingly increased by 20mm and the longer wheelbase has equally afforded an extra 30mm of space between the front and rear passengers. These dimensions do seem quite modest; take it from me they do matter. I can see wide appeal for this Subaru, a family vehicle, one which should prove popular with people in the agri business and for people who indulge in outdoor pursuits. Each time I got onboard I was greeted with a practical and welcoming interior complete with an intuitive eight inch multifunction colour touchscreen that is easy to use and which contains Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, DAB radio and Bluetooth connectivity. There is also a new electronic parking brake and eight way power adjustable driver and front passenger seats and in addition to heated front seats, XE Premium is equipped with heated rear seats and a heated steering wheel.

Ian Lynas

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