SUBARU FORESTER S-EDITION REVIEW
Vehicle Style: five-door medium SUV
Price: $50,990 (plus on-road costs)
After an appearance at last year's Australian International Motor Show, the Forester S-Edition has arrived.
It comes with an engine transplant from the WRX designed to give a performance boost while still maintaining the Forester's practicality as family transport.
- Quality: The blue Alcantara highlights in the seats and door trims look fantastic, but the dash and door-cards are still hard, shiny, flimsy and uninviting. The interior also revealed a loose rear door-card and rattles from the rear seatback.
- Comfort: Front seats are flat and lack the support to match the S-Edition's cornering ability. No lumbar support for the driver takes its toll on long trips and the centre seat in the rear is hard and high, making it a short trip only proposition.
- Equipment: The S-Edition comes with touch-screen navigation with CD/DVD playback, six speakers and a subwoofer, electric driver’s seat, electro-luminescent instruments, dual-zone climate control, panoramic sunroof, steering wheel audio controls and paddle shifters.
- Storage: 450 litres of boot space can be expanded with one-touch folding seats to 1610 litres.
The glovebox is a useful size, but the open front on the centre console, wide-open space beneath the climate controls and square, oversized cupholders all proved to be impractical.
ON THE ROAD
- Driveability: Around town you’d never know the Forester had such a bold little heart beating away under its bonnet – until you plant the foot. Few SUVs can build speed so quickly. It's a shame though that the S-Edition has such a prodigious thirst for (premium) petrol.
- Refinement: You can forgive an engine like this a few shakes and noises, and the S-Edition provides all the right ones, but its five-speed automatic feels old, clunky and is a long way behind the best in the business.
- Suspension: Forester’s MacPherson strut front and double wishbone rear, fully independent suspension has been tweaked by STI for the S-Edition for improved damper responsiveness. It’s firm but comfortable, though there is still some lean through corners.
- Braking: Pedal feel is quite soft; the potent S-Edition feels like it could do with more stopping power in emergencies. Brake Assist also intervenes quite early, causing some jerky, sudden stops.
- ANCAP rating: 5 stars
- Safety features: Front, side and curtain airbags are standard, and all seats feature three-point seatbelts. ABS, EBD, stability control, traction control and a reverse camera are also standard.
WARRANTY AND SERVICING
- Warranty: Factory warranty is offered for a three year/unlimited kilometre period.
- Service costs: A basic service costs around $220, with the first major service coming in at 50,000km/24 months and costing about $530. Services are scheduled for every 12,500km/6 months.
HOW IT COMPARES | VALUE FOR MONEY
- Toyota RAV4 ZR6 ($49,990) – Well equipped and spacious with a much bigger boot. Dynamically though the RAV4 can’t even come close to the Forester when shown a winding country road. (see RAV4 reviews)
- Volkswagen Tiguan 147TSI ($42,990) – A fellow turbocharged offering, but well down on power and torque. Tiguan speaks volumes about refinement and could show Forester a thing or two about interior quality. (see Tiguan reviews)
- Mazda CX-7 Luxury Sports ($45,990) – CX-7 is the pick of the SUV crop. It combines refinement and class-leading dynamics with a comfortable interior and eye-catching good looks. Like the Forester though, fuel economy is poor. (see CX-7 reviews)
Note: all prices are Manufacturer’s List Price and do not include dealer delivery or on-road costs.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
The added weight of the Forester body tied to a WRX engine doesn’t quite gel, yet the S-Edition scores for practicality. And, although the handling is still more like an SUV, the powerful S-Edition is a reasonably compelling drive.
It's a mixed bag really. While we had high expectations of the S-Edition, the reality is that there are better options available if you want an SUV with a bit of attitude and a healthy turn of speed.