Subaru Forester

Sometimes, two wheels are better than four. Certainly, as the warm weather arrives, cycling has become an enjoyable experience. And, thanks to the spacious rear of our long-term Subaru Forester, I've been able to drive, park and ride with no fuss.

  • Large sunroof, heated sports seats, steering wheel controls, netted door pockets
  • Fuel economy, hesitant auto transmission, erratic starting<br/><br/>

Sometimes, two wheels are better than four. Certainly, as the warm weather arrives, cycling has become an enjoyable experience. And, thanks to the spacious rear of our long-term Subaru Forester, I've been able to drive, park and ride with no fuss.

As with my on or off-road hybrid bike, the Forester is well suited to tarmac. But it can take on a bit of the rough stuff, too, due to its four-wheel drive and high ground clearance. I hope to make use of this limited mud-plugging ability on a trip to North Yorkshire next month.

Most of the Subaru's 12,000 miles have been taken up with urban commuting, where its auto box has made driving through congested streets a lot more bearable. However, its hesitant kickdown means darting into gaps in the traffic is not a good idea. The transmission is far more responsive on the motorway, but compared to the larger 2.5-litre engine, this 2.0 unit seems sluggish.

Living with the Forester has been reasonably trouble-free, and after its 1,000-mile service it didn't need to see a garage until 12,000 miles. However, Subaru dealers are thin on the ground, and I had to trek from south London to West Ewell, Surrey, for my nearest authorised outlet. Still, once there, I realised why this Japanese marque always does so well in the Dealers rankings of Auto Express's annual Driver Power reliability and satisfaction survey; the staff at Cheam Motors were excellent.

While courtesy cars weren't a problem, I opted for the while-you-wait service, which took an hour-and-a-half - although at £170.08, it's an expensive 90 minutes! The only hitch was that the ECU needed looking at. In our previous report, we mentioned that the Forester occasionally had trouble starting. Apparently, BP05 AZN had missed a software up-date when it arrived in the UK, and this was the reason for the glitch. Unfortunately, the senior area technician wasn't on site, but Cheam Motors arranged a follow-up appointment to sort this out. The Forester is on our long-term fleet until July, so I'm going to enjoy the next couple of months with it. Just as the heated seats were a god-send in the winter, the gargantuan sunroof means I'm not missing out on any sunshine as the long, warm summer days arrive.

If it does get too hot, the climate control soon cools down the predominantly black cabin. And if it's a particularly nice day, there's always my bike in the back! Gary Lord

Second opinion I've also taken advantage of the Forester's bike-carrying abilities. But for an estate I thought the Subaru had limited practicality, with a high boot floor and intrusive wheelarches. Getting comfortable was also a problem, thanks to a lack of reach adjustment on the steering wheel. However, the Forester is great at tackling the urban jungle, with a smooth ride and chunky tyres helping to iron out the potholes.Chris Thorp, dep. motoring editor

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