What is it like to drive?
Perhaps the first thing to note is that, with the Forester e-Boxer, Subaru has taken what are very much baby steps into the world of hybridisation. In fact, the e-Boxer’s battery is so small that it can only manage around a mile of all-electric range at speeds of up to 25mph. And as there’s no EV-only button, you’ll find yourself engaging the internal combustion engine if you even whisper in the throttle pedal’s ear. This isn’t a 48-volt mild hybrid, but it certainly feels like one. In fact, it sometimes feels just like an effective start/stop system.
This is the first Subaru in Europe to offer hybrid power, so if it’s been designed to not scare off rurally-based fans of the brand, they’ll be pleasantly surprised. If you still do plenty of town driving and want something that’ll run on electric power alone, a plug-in hybrid like the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV would be a better option. With a majority of town driving, we managed just over 30mpg.
That’s not to say the Forester is bad to drive. The presence of that CVT gearbox means the revs climb a little high and things get a bit noisy under hard acceleration, but there’s enough in terms of responsiveness to generally avoid this, and the steering wheel-mounted paddles are a last resort – it’s marginally better than other CVTs in this segment.
The ride is impressively soft too – in part thanks to the high sidewalled tyres – and the steering is dynamic enough for something of this size. Then there’s Subaru’s EyeSight safety system, which comes as standard on all e-Boxers. This includes Adaptive Cruise Control, Pre-Collision Braking, Pre-Collision Throttle Management, Lane Sway and Departure Warning, Lane Keep Assist and Lead Vehicle Start Alert. While that may sound like a lot, nothing is too intrusive in daily driving and there’s a strong sense that you’d only notice the systems at the point of truly needing them. This is good news.
Off-road capabilities will probably be just as important to Forester buyers as on-road performance, so Subaru has covered that base with its Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive system and an X-Mode dial that can switch between normal, snow/dirt and deep snow/mud modes. The lack of a torquey diesel option may disappoint frequent towers, of course.