Breathing a sigh of relief, Charlie Flindt finds the Subaru Forester 2.0D XC estate is as practical as ever, though there’s a special edition in dark green to quicken the pulse


The Subaru Forster 2.0D XC proves as practical as ever, but it’s the return of the favourite rural hue that gets Charlie Flindt’s pulse racing.

For a Subaru less suited to the odd foray into a muddy field but certainly great fun in the corners, read Charlie Flindt’s review of the Subaru Levorg GT.


The Subaru Forester 2.0D XC is well known for many things but sending ripples of frantic excitement through the rural car-buying community is not one of them. It’s just not that sort of car. True, there have been high-performance versions in its nigh-on-20-year life but they haven’t really caught on out in the sticks. We love our Foresters for being roomy, capable, comfortable and, perhaps (and I’m sure Subaru won’t mind me saying), even a little dull.

Subaru Forester 2.0D XC. Steering

The Subaru’s steering feels happy in the rough.

The latest Forester has undergone a few changes but fans need have no fear. The concept remains much the same. It’s still a vast estate car with fantastic off-road abilities. In fact, you might be hard pressed to spot Subaru’s updates. It has tinkered with the grill and the headlights to give the front a fresher feel and brought more “soft-touch” materials into the cabin. All this is irrelevant if you like using your car to nudge gates open or transport deadstock but essential in the SUV race for luxury.

Subaru makes a lot of fuss about the soundproofing. There’s thicker glass in the windows and extra sound-absorbing materials in the window seals. Significantly, the dashboard, passenger footwell and the zone where windscreen meets dashboard have been subjected to lashings of extra sound-deadening materials. Even so, the diesel on my test car still clattered away noticeably. The thrum of the old petrol flat four was one of the sensory delights of driving a Subaru but the diesel version, for all its technical wizardry, has never managed to please the ears.


Luckily, the Forester’s practicality is still paramount. The interior is huge, the ride is soft enough for ruts and tracks – if you want track-day suspension, go elsewhere – and the steering, despite having been quickened, still feels happy in the rough. And in a world where A and B pillars seem to get thicker and thicker, it was a joy to be able to see out easily at junctions.

Now, I say that a new Forester never quickens the pulse – but I’m wrong. Subaru has just done a special limited edition of the new Forester and it’s finished in a yummy dark green with a brown leather interior. And, as any fule kno, dark green is the only real colour for country cars and leather is the only really practical interior material.

Subaru Forester 2.0D XC. Boot

The new Subaru Forester is comfortable and spacious.

For years, I’ve noticed that green has been dropping off the option list of almost every manufacturer, leaving car buyers with only uninspiring shades of grey and perhaps a red or a blue thrown in.

Is it just coincidence that dark green is making a comeback at exactly the same time as the Land Rover Defender – the ultimate dark-green country vehicle – is vanishing? It’s not just Subaru; the Shogun and the Suzuki Jimny are now available in our favourite rural hue.

But I digress. The good news is that even in “normal edition” format, the Forester is flying the flag for no-nonsense, practical country transport – which is enough to earn it a slight smile and a nod of approval from us mud-dwellers. And that’s as close to frantic excitement as we get.


Engine: 1,998cc flat-four diesel
Power: 147bhp
Performance, 0 to 62: 9.9 seconds
Combined Fuel Economy: 54.3mpg
Insurance Group: 25
Price: £29,495