So this is my last column for 2013, and on the morning I write this I have just read the saddening news that actor and Fast and Furious star Paul Walker has been killed in a car accident. That series contributed immensely to my love for cars, and I just wanted to offer a brief thought to his family and friends.
Moving onto a more positive note, I have a final two cars for you to round off what’s been a busy year. I shall start off with the Subaru Forester. There’s a new one out, and owing to the departure of the WRX STi in the UK, the Forester XT is currently the most powerful Subaru you can buy. Its 2.0-litre turbocharged engine produces 240PS and 350Nm which is sent to all four wheels via a CVT gearbox. It’s certainly no slouch, being able to hit 62mph in 7.5 seconds and on to a top speed of 137mph. The CVT box means that acceleration is relentless, but also smooth and relaxing when driving normally.
Being the top-of-the-range model, there’s plenty of technology- from satellite navigation to an electric tailgate- ensuring a premium feel throughout. Japanese interiors usually leave a lot to be desired, although this is one of the better ones I have come across. Thanks to its AWD system the Forester feels sure-footed whatever the conditions, but fuel economy isn’t great with that turbocharged engine. You can expect around 33.2mpg, and CO2 emissions of 197g/km. Road tax is £280 (£475 first year). Priced at £30,995 the Forester XT may seem expensive, but it does have a lot of toys, and performance that will keep even the keenest of drivers happy.
If you simply can’t swallow that fuel economy, then why not consider the XV as an alternative. Think of this as the Foresters younger brother. There’s still a fantastic AWD system, but the toys have been scaled down somewhat and the resulting car (I tested it in SE spec) costs just £23,995. This includes a boxer diesel engine, which can offer you a more reasonable 50.4mpg and 146g/km CO2. Road tax is £140, and the same in the first year. Not too bad for a Scooby…
The exterior design is good, and I certainly felt the XV had a presence. On the inside the style is somewhat lacking, and you can see why it’s so much cheaper than the Forester. There’s plenty of space though, and it’s perfectly comfortable; it just lacks the premium touches. To drive the XV fell short of the Forester too. Whilst the AWD system offers reassuring levels of grip, the boxer diesel felt a bit agricultural. Worst still was the manual gearbox, which was notchy, and about as precise as a country mile. Once cruising on the motorway, the engine did settle down somewhat, and you enjoy the long 6th gear, so all is well on a longer drive.
As always you can find full reviews for both of these cars on my site. I hope you’ve enjoyed the reviews this year, and I’m sure I can rustle up something special for 2014. I already have some reviews lined up, and you’ll see new manufacturers being put to the test. Expect to see the Fiesta ST, and I’m even working on bringing a Jaguar F-Type to these pages, which will be something to look forward to, so stick with me in the forthcoming months. Plus I’m getting married in August!
And on that note, may I wish you all a very Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year. Enjoy the well-deserved break and get ready for the resolutions to start come January 1st. Mine? To review a V8. Simple.