16.4 L/ 100km
Earlier this year, Subaru gave its Forester SUV a refresh, with revised styling front and rear, new wheel designs, added interior elements for a greater sense of refinement, and measures such as upgraded suspension and thicker window glass to improve noise and vibration levels.
We drove the top-spec petrol variant, the XT Premium, which has Subaru's 2.0-litre turbocharged 'boxer' engine (177kW/350Nm) matched to a continuously variable transmission (CVT).
Changes to dampers and springs mean this is the softest-riding Forester to date. Although it is still firmer than the Subaru Outback, gone are the days when driving a Forester up a gravel track rattled your teeth. The reduction in noise – five per cent over the previous model according to Subaru – is noticeable, as is the reduction in cabin vibration. In its Premium trim, the Forester almost touches on a luxury feel. The one exception is the 'leather' steering wheel, which must have come from plastic cows.
The dashboard design finds a pleasing compromise between practicality and visual appeal. One of the smarter changes for the 2016 model year is the control switch for the multi-function display, which has moved from the steering wheel to the centre of the dash (below the screen itself) so the front seat passenger can operate it as well. The display's functionality has also been simplified. All Foresters except the base model now have a light in the sun visor vanity mirrors, while a driver's seat memory function has been added to the XT Premium. It also gets headlights that swivel when the car is turning corners to better illuminate the road ahead.
To counteract the handling deficiency from its softer ride, the XT Premium has torque vectoring and vehicle dynamics control, which are designed to counteract understeer. They work, but only to a point; the Forester is a tall, high-riding vehicle and it is still subject to minor body roll and understeer.
Subaru says it has made some alterations to its SI-Drive system so the various modes work better with the CVT. The engine/CVT combination was smooth and pleasing already, without the sense of breathlessness inherent in some CVTs, so it would be a keen driver indeed that could pinpoint the differences.
What these changes have done (especially in the XT Premium) is move the Forester closer to the Outback in appearance and demeanour while retaining its sporty attitude and high driving position. That's no bad thing, since refinement, along with all-wheel drive, is what continues to distinguish the Forester from cheaper SUVs that, on face value, seem to offer better bang for buck.