Subaru Forester 2005 review

It was only after years of losing customers to specialist importers that Subaru decided to make its Impreza STi available in the UK.

combining the blistering dynamics of a rally bred saloon with the practicality of a family estate, the Forester STi is both formidable and desirable. It's available as an import only, rather than through Subaru's official UK dealers, but don't let that put you off. This car is a corker, and specialists such as Litchfield Imports provide comprehensive warranty packages and a professional service.

It was only after years of losing customers to specialist importers that Subaru decided to make its Impreza STi available in the UK. Fast-forward to 2005, and you can imagine our sense of d�j� vu as Auto Express takes the wheel of the very latest Forester STi, imported from Japan by specialist Litchfield.

A blend of boxy Forester estate bodywork and high-octane Impreza STi running gear, this is the ultimate high-performance SUV. Smaller and more responsive than the Porsche Cayenne Turbo and Range Rover Sport, it is powered by a 2.5-litre version of the manufacturer's legendaryturbocharged flat-four unit.

The engine management system has been recalibrated to run on UK fuel by tuning expert Powerstation. Litchfield has also tweaked power output in this top-spec variant to 320bhp - that's 20bhp more than the flagship Impreza STi PPP. The companies claim the Forester can go from 0-60mph in 4.8 seconds and hit a top speed above 150mph - again beating Subaru UK's top model.

A capable chassis, close-ratio six-speed gearbox, huge Brembo brakes and broad low-profile tyres ensure all this power is kept under control.

While it may seem daunting to contemplate buying a vehicle fromoutside the UK dealer network, getting hold of this newcomer will be asurprisingly simple and straightforward procedure. A comprehensive extended warranty is available to provide added peace of mind.

Priced at £28,117, the Forester STi is a few hundred pounds more than the hottest Impreza, but half the price of a Range Rover Sport. If you like the idea of a versatile family estate which is as entertaining as any hot hatch or sports saloon, it should be on your list.

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