It’s always a good feeling to slip back into a Subaru Forester. Think of catching up with an old mate at your favourite pub, after you’ve pulled on your comfy boots and decided on having your favourite meal and a pint of your favourite suds. That’s what it was like in late June for A Wheel Thing, with the updated 2.0L (177 kW/350 Nm) petrol and CVT equipped XT Premium.Outside it’s been a minor set of changes, with the tail lights and head lights now equipped with LEDs and lit in a squared off C shape. There’s xenon headlamps up front and swept back into the fenders to accentuate the eagle eyed look Forester has had over the last couple of models. The grille has been reprofiled as has the front bumper.Out back the tail lamp clusters stand proud of the rear fenders and have a nicely chamfered design to the edges. Above the driver is a sizable sunroof, covering both front and rear seats. The test vehicle was clad in silver, necessitating the auto headlights to be flicked on manually as their sensitivity under Sydney’s grey skies wasn’t enough to illuminate automatically.There’s black painted 18 inch alloys (new aero efficient design for the 2016 model), with rubber supplied by Bridgestone in a 225/55/18 profile. They were grippy enough and added an extra level of comfort to the suspension setup, modified slightly from the 2015 model. There’s a touch more comfort, a touch more luxury in the ride quality, plush even, leaning towards the luxury side the XT is aimed at, rather than an out and out sports style.It’s surprisingly twitchy on road, this particular vehicle, affected by cross breezes and passing trucks, needing a keen sense of attention from the driver in wet weather. I have to say it was an unusual situation to experience, as it’s so rare for a Subaru car to be suchlike in its driving. Otherwise, it’s a neutral handler, with the faintest hint of tight corner understeer (dialled out by the Vehicle Dynamics Control, for the most part), with Subaru’s famous all for the driver all wheel drive system playing its part.The SI Drive system has also been fettled, with an eight step programming for the CVT and receiving throttle input information, going from a continous drive mode on light throttle input to the eight speed feel when under heavy load. Underneath, that ride quality has been helped by minor but noticeable changes to the spring and shock absorber settings, a more rigid front suspension cradle and rerated suspension bushes.Inside, it’s more of the same; familiar dash layout, familiar instrumentation, familiar ergonomics. It’s as easy to deal with as the aforementioned comfy boots and bucket of suds for anyone that’s spent time with a Forester over the last few years. It’s certainly an easy place to get accustomed to for anyone that hasn’t, with clearly laid out switchgear, good ergonomics and sensible design cues apart from that damnable prediliction for lighting up the climate control’s dual zone button when in fact it’s only blowing into one zone. But you will also get Subaru’s much vaunted Eyesight system, which only once failed to work, due to direct sunlight shining directly down the camera barrels.There’s, of course, electric seats. Comfortable, slip into ’em like your favourite shoes, electric seats with two heating settings (no cooling), clad in black leather, with thicker underside cushioning and with split fold rears accessing the cargo space. There’s Subaru’s X-Trac system underneath for softroading, accessed via a button in the front centre console. Even the vanity mirrors are now lit. What the XT Premium doesn’t get is a DAB equipped tuner. What the Forester has been given, however, is a good working over with the refinement brush. Both suspension (adding to the ride quality experienced) and the NVH (noise, vibration, harshness) levels have been further refined (by five percent, says Subaru) thanks to slightly thicker glass and changes in the body’s structure plus increasing sound deadening materials. It’s evident by the lack of exterior noise making its way into the cabin. Apple’s Siri voice interface has been added, the tail gate is powered, and there’s memory seating as well.It’s a good size, the Forester, with a compact 4610 mm length hiding a 2640 mm wheelbase. It’s tall, at 1735 mm and spans 1795 mm thanks to the heated wing mirrors extended. Weight is deceptive, with the XT Premium tipping the scales at 1657 kg, a full 157 kg heavier than the entry level 2.0L manual. Unsurprisingly, as a result, it’s also the highest in fuel consumption, with Subaru quoting 8.5L of unleaded being used for every 100 kilometres on a combined cycle. A Wheel Thing saw consistent nine plus around town. Warranty wise, you’ll get three years and unlimited kilometres.All this adds up to be a reasonable ask in dollars; the range starts at just under thirty thousand, with the XT Premium auto ten dollars shy of forty eight thousand. Given the company it keeps, such as the Sportage, Tucson, Kuga, Captiva, RAV4 and the like, it may seem up against it but the sales numbers tell a different story, with the Forester range a consistent sales chart topper.
For info, to book a test drive and for enquiries, head here: 2016 Subaru Forester range and follow Subaru on social media.