I'm the first to admit that life as a motoring journalist isn't the most painful way to earn a crust. For instance as I sit and type this review I'm sat drinking tea in most beautiful dining room of a Irish Country house, just about as far West in Ireland as you can go before you hear a Manhattan accent. As I hear the waves crash asunder outside and I stare out into the distance with nothing to break my view of the Islands scattered about in the Atlantic. Don't hate me though, because as wonderful as this all sounds, tomorrow I begin an 16hr journey home, my trip back to the UK will start with a 7hr drive across Ireland, include a 4hr night ferry, and end with 5hr drive which will see me step foot over my front door at roughly 5am.
So why have I just signed myself to ensure such a journey back to my homeland? Simple really, we live in a 'Gaydar' world, the 'gay inch' is much the same as the manufacturers mpg, with careful measurement, the right lighting and selective reality absolutely anything is possible, 6" becomes 9", 'camp disco queen' becomes 'so totally str8 acting none of my mates know I'm gay' and sixteen mpg suddenly becomes forty five.
So on this occasion I've decided to conduct my own fuel economy test, on the rather attractive SUV, that has brought me here to the furthest throws of Southern Ireland.
Firstly it has to be said that Subaru have taken a massive chance on the styling of the new Forrester. The old model was nothing more a tough estate car for farmers and those enjoying the horsy things in life. By stark comparison with the new model, it's bigger, beefier and has waaaaay more attitude. This new model really does look the business. Now here's the odd thing, for some reason Subaru, still one assumes on a high from the rave reviews of its all new and first ever Diesel engine (the boxer), have decided that the Petrol Forrester and the Diesel Forrester will be as different as Vanessa Mae and Vanessa 'gimme a cake' Feltz. Equipment and specification on the two cars means you'd have to be insane to choose the Petrol over the Diesel, although both come with the fantastic symmetrical four wheel drive system which currently blesses the all new Impreza, only the Diesel gets full time permanent four wheel drive as standard. The Diesel also gets a silky smooth 6 speed gearbox mated to its superb 2.0L 147bhp Boxer engine, whereas the petrol gets a 5 speed. Oddly the Diesel is also much quieter and smoother than its petrol brother.
Now the first time I drove the new petrol engined Forrester I thought it was a tad on the bouncy side, in the same way that the aforementioned Miss Feltz is a tad on the bouncy side. So expecting the worse of the Diesel you could have slapped me down with a GuyLiner filled Prada ManBag when low and behold the heavier Diesel engine and self-leveling suspension seems to have vastly improved this in the Diesel derivative.
So what's it like to drive, well both petrol and diesel alike are good fun, handle well (the diesel better), have great torque (so the equestrian lovers amongst us can hitch up the horse box for a weekend of gymkhana without worry) and perform well. Don't think its all hunky dory though, both suffer with some body roll when pushed hard or fast into tighter corners. That said, the competition the Forrester faces in the likes of the Toyota RAV4, Nissan X-Trail and Land Rover Freelander actually have far more body roll in the same circumstance and to be fair to all if you're expecting an SUV to handle corners like a sports cars you deserve to be upside in a ditch for sheer stupidity lol.
So to finish up this review, on to the important aspect of the Forrester, fuel economy... Subaru may be claiming that the Diesel Forrester will deliver 44 to the gallon, however my 770 mile journey home on a tank and a half of Diesel says otherwise. It turns out that Subaru are being more than a little modest, I was actually getting between 49 and 51 mpg, to put this into perspective on a money side of things (especially in the current climate) I put eight quid in the tank at Fish Guard when I docked and that got me all the way to Cardiff before putting another eight quid in, which proceeded to get me home to Cheltenham.
So in plain words, the Forrester isn't just great on fuel, its astounding, tax wise its £175 a year and only a group 9 to insure as well. I loved it and thought it was a great little SUV with all the benefits of owning an SUV, better ground clearance, the ability to throw it round a field should the need arise and a lovely comfortable ride with none of the downsides. Could the Forrester be the only real 'Gaydar' profile and actually deliver more than it promises