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New Subaru Forester SUV tested

The Subaru Forester has been a favourite of Aussie families since it first landed on our shores. And now the Japanese brand has injected a bit of colour into its line-up with a new Forester Sport variant.Here are five things you need to know about the new Subaru Forester Sport.IS ORANGE THE NEW BLACK?When marketing…

The Subaru Forester has been a favourite of Aussie families since it first landed on our shores. And now the Japanese brand has injected a bit of colour into its line-up with a new Forester Sport variant.

Here are five things you need to know about the new Subaru Forester Sport.

IS ORANGE THE NEW BLACK?

When marketing and product planning bods get together to inject a bit of life into a model line, they invariably follow the tried and tested route of bringing out a special edition. And more often than not, the design theme is “paint it black”. Black wheels, black spoilers, black side mirrors — the list goes on. Nissan bucked the trend a little by introducing orange highlights on its Navara work ute and now Subaru has followed suit with its Forester “Sport” variant. There are splashes of orange on the front, side and rear scuff guards, as well as the roof racks. Other cosmetic enhancements include LED front fog lights, dark surrounds for the headlights, dark metallic 18-inch wheels and a black surround on the front grille. On our white test car, it looked pretty good. The Sport also has an exclusive colour — dark blue pearl.

THE THEME CONTINUES

Ford designers dabbled with orange lettering and stitching in the cabin of the Ranger ute, but the Forester Sport goes a step further. The surrounds for the gear selector and aircon vents are both orange plastic, which sounds tacky but actually works pretty well. Elsewhere, there’s orange stitching on the steering wheel and seats, sports badging and a unique instrument panel. The seat material is water repellent grey cloth with faux leather bolsters and that treatment is repeated on the door panels. It all comes together pretty well and Subaru throws in a sunroof to give the cabin an airier feel than the dark and formal look of the Premium model it’s based on.

THERE’S VALUE FOR THE EXTRA DOLLARS

The Sport will be a permanent addition to the Forester range, slotting in between the Premium and the S models. It costs roughly $1500 more than the Premium model and $1500 less than the S. That translates to just shy of $47,000 on the road, so it’s not cheap. It is, however, very well equipped for the price. Comfort and convenience items include an auto rear tailgate, dual-zone aircon, satnav, electric parking brake, heated front seats, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto and digital radio.

IT’S PRETTY CAPABLE IN THE GREAT OUTDOORS

The Forester isn’t as soft as most soft-roaders. It comes with full-time four-wheel-drive, decent ground clearance and clever off-road tech that makes it more capable on slippery surfaces. Called X-Drive, it manages the throttle, transmission, traction control and all-wheel-drive functions to provide optimal grip and drive in mud and snow. On the Sport, there’s a dual-mode version that caters for more extreme conditions. Unlike many SUVs, the Forester also has a full-size alloy spare. An added bonus: towing capacity is up from 1500kg to 1800kg.

AND COMFORTABLE ON THE HIGHWAY

The Forester has one of the better thought-out cabins in the SUV market. There’s acres of head room, leg room in the back is generous and all-round vision is excellent. Rear passengers can recline their seats, while the driver’s seat is both well-padded and supportive for longer journeys. The engine can get a little raucous when pushed and the CVT transmission is a little jerky in stop-start traffic, but there’s reasonable urge available for overtaking and the cabin is well insulated. The Forester soaks up bumps and corrugations well, while also providing reassuring grip and poise through the corners. The list of driver aids is endless and includes a camera that scans your face to see whether you’re distracted or fatigued. Overall, the Forester is an impressive all-rounder for a family wagon.

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