A Real Trailblazer

BY Jonathan Lim

No, not that honking great GM SUV; Subaru’s latest offering has the pace to be a real scorcher.

Subaru has been in the doldrums for a while now. It’s been 5 years since they pulled out of the WRC, the WRX and STi models were quietly dropped last year, and they don’t have a single turbocharged model in their lineup (well, until now). Sure, the BRZ has received critical acclaim, but even so they can only sell 10% of what Toyota does with the GT86, and who can afford to buy a sports car at today’s prices?

Enter the new Forester XT. With a 2-litre ‘Direct Injection Turbo’ flat-four putting out 240 bhp and 350 Nm, the car will sprint to 100 in 7.5s and top out at 221 km/h. And, this being a crossover, the long-travel suspension should be able to soak up the bumps quite decently. The perfect replacement for newly minted dads needing something more family-friendly than their hopped-up WRXes?

Family men will be pleased to hear of the Forester’s safety standards; 7 airbags help contribute to a 5-star EuroNCAP and ‘Good’ IIHS safety ratings. Larger dimensions all round free up more interior room, while practical touches such as one-touch folding rear seats and a rear door that opens nearly 90° make it easier to live with day to day.

Most talked about, though, is Subaru’s new X-MODE control system that aids drivers in extreme conditions, all at the push of a button. Similar in concept to Land Rover’s Terrain Response system, it detects when wheels are slipping or have no grip, and appropriately shuffles torque around to the wheel(s) that can use it most. It also incorporates a Hill Descent function, allowing the car to maintain traction and creep down a steep hill, without the driver needing to use the brakes (though you should probably still cover the pedal with your foot, just in case).

For the local market, the Forester comes with all the bells and whistles, such as electric seats, electric tailgate with memory function, reverse camera and 8-speaker Harman Kardon sound system. Bookings are open already and the car is retailing for S$151,800. The price is likely to change at the next COE bidding though, so act fast!