2015 Subaru Forester 2.0D-L long-term car review, part 1

Subaru Forester Diesel

Corby brings home the most sensible of Subaru’s medium SUVs, and finds it more attractive than its faster sister.

IT'S not every day that a dark-haired version of Catweazle – he was like a cross between a 1970s hipster and Merlin who starred in a TV show back in the dark ages; YouTube it, you’ll be alarmed – runs up to you at a red light, bangs on your window and then barks out of his beard: “Hey! How is the DIESEL? I’ve got the petrol VERSION, parked right back THERE and I just wanted to KNOW.”

Subaru -forester -embed -wheelsI was parked in my new MY15 Subaru Forester (yes, it does look a lot like my old one that went back three months ago, but I like blue) at one of the busiest intersections in Sydney, and if Wild Eyed Man didn’t get back in his Subaru quickly there’d be carnage behind us, so I had to be brief.

“It’s brilliant. Buy one. And then get a haircut,” I shouted, before being set free by a green light.

My switch from a petrol version to the newly upgraded 2.0D-L CVT diesel means I get a new infotainment system. This human/screen interface should not be glossed over because it’s a gigantic leap forward for Subaru, which has long treated the whole centre console and stereo system as The Land That Time Forgot. Straight away, the nifty touchscreen made me feel better about my new Forester.

In just a few weeks the diesel has made me even happier because I now like to drive past service stations, giggling and waving. The previous XT Premium Forester’s biggest, and perhaps only, failing was its fuel economy, using around 12 litres every 100km. The diesel still drinks a bit around town, but nowhere near as much, averaging around 9L/100km. Take it for a long-legged lope down the highway and you’re suddenly getting 7L/100km, and damn near 1000km from a tank.

Subaru -forester -diesel -pumpAll the things we loved about our last Forester remain familiarly joyous – cabin space, big boot, windows the kids can actually see out of, Quartz Blue Pearl paint – but the diesel is a better experience all round.

Except for the noise. While modern, expensive Euro diesels are little noisier than petrol versions, the Subaru’s unit does rattle and clatter a bit. I may get used to it, and of course it’s not a sports car, but the turbo-petrol flat four sure sounded more exciting.

On a final and rather significant upside, this diesel Forester is $15,000 cheaper, despite feeling somewhat newer inside. Throw in the savings on fuel and this has to be the one you’d buy. Which is what I told Catweazle.

Fight for the right

PEOPLE used to complain about stinky diesel pumps and how being forced to use them made you feel like a social pariah, with hands that smelled like a truckie’s, but I can’t say I’ve ever found that a problem. What is a challenge is that nearly all servos have only one diesel pump, and with the oily fuel’s increasing popularity this often involves having to queue up. Fortunately, we wise old diesel users don’t have to fill up very often, otherwise there’d be forecourt rage for sure.

Read part 2 of our Subaru Forester long-term car review.

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