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BOXING CLEVER (some text hidden)
By Jonathan Crouch
The fifth generation Subaru Forester gains a mild hybrid boost. Jonathan Crouch reports.
Ten Second Reviewword count: 59
Boxer engines and Subaru have been inseparable for most of this Japanese brand's life. In recent years though, some have begun to question whether this flat four format really has a place in the industry's largely electrified future. Subaru wants to assure us that it does, hence the mild hybrid e-Boxer petrol unit fitted to this fifth generation Forester.
Backgroundword count: 188
Wouldn't it be nice to find a properly capable mid-sized family SUV? A car that could walk the walk as well as talking the talk? A car like this one, Subaru's fifth generation Forester, now enhanced with an e-Boxer mild hybrid petrol powertrain. Everything about this design seems to be nicely balanced, from the shape and positioning of its freshly electrified Boxer engine to the shape and positioning of its intended clientele. People who want something fashionable, but don't need to make a fashion statement. People who want something tough and rugged, but don't need to tackle the Rubicon Trail. So the smarter styling inside and out will go down as well as the Symmetrical All-Wheel-Drive system and the symmetrical off road technology. You buy this car for what it does, not for what it says about you. Talk to almost any Forester owner and they'll tell you of times when they cruised past other similar vehicles that came unstuck when the going got tough. They'll tell you that nothing ever fell off. That nothing ever went wrong. And that nothing would persuade them to buy anything else.
Driving Experienceword count: 222
For most of its recent life, the Forester has sold primarily with a Boxer diesel powerplant and it's taken some time for the brand to shift its engineering emphasis. This e-Boxer mild hybrid unit looks promising though. Thanks to a small electric drive motor with 16bhp and 48 Ib ft of torque powered by a little lithium-ion battery, the Forester can in this form offer emissions-free motoring for short periods. The whole set-up's relatively light (it adds only 110kgs to the 150PS 2.0-litre normally aspirated petrol powertrain it's mated to). And it drives through a re-engineered version of the same belt-driven CVT auto gearbox that other Subarus use. Best of all for loyal Forester towers, there's none of the usual reduction in hauling capacity that hybrids of any kind are usually afflicted with. This one can tug almost 1,800kgs, helped by the brand's usual asymmetrical four-wheel drive system. On the move on tarmac, the hybrid system's electric motor provides a bit more instant pulling power, especially when using the car's provide 'S' driving mode. Steering wheel gearchange paddles are provided and a rear stabiliser has been added for a little more cornering decorum. Off road, the Forester, as you'd expect, makes light work of tough terrain thanks to decent ground clearance, that responsive and capable 4WD system and standard hill descent control.
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Category: Crossover or SUV 4x4s
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