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In-depth reviews

Subaru Forester hybrid performance, top speed & engine

Performance is a bit weak on the road, but once you head off it, the Subaru Forester hybrid is king of this class

Overall rating

3.0 out of 5

Engines, drive & performance rating

3.0 out of 5

Price
£34,195 - £40,945
Fuel Type:
Hybrid Petrol
0-62mphTop speedDriven wheelsPower
11.8s117mphFour148bhp

If we were to give a standalone rating for off-road ability, the Forester would get five out of five. Sadly we don't, and the e-Boxer's on-road performance is lacklustre. It doesn't just have a rather underwhelming 0-62mph time; it's clunky when transitioning from electric to petrol power.

Subaru Forester hybrid 0-62mph, top speed and acceleration

The Forester isn't fast. In fact, you'll find it mooing away as the CVT gearbox lets the 2.0-litre engine rev noisily while you try to build speed quickly. As we said earlier, its 0-62mph time is a disappointing 11.8 seconds, a figure trounced by most of its rivals. There's hesitation as it shuffles between the petrol and electric power sources - unless you decide to switch off the engine stop-start system and use 'Sport' exclusively to keep the engine running, all of which undermines the fuel-saving benefits of a hybrid.  

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The Forester excels off-road, thanks to permanent four-wheel drive and dedicated terrain settings: one for light mud and sand, the other for deep mud and snow (the latter allowing more slip). There's also a hill-descent mode which automatically applies the brakes to control the car's speed and traction when crawling down a slope.

These gadgets, and ground clearance of 8.6 inches (220mm), mean the Forester is better in tricky conditions than almost anything in its price range, short of dedicated 4x4s such as the Land Rover Discovery Sport – and we suspect it'd even give that car a run for its money.

It certainly shrugged off the deep mud and steep, slippery slopes of our off-road track, easily dispatching each obstacle. It's very impressive for a sub-£40,000 mid-sized family SUV.

Handling

You want a Subaru Forester to be stoically grippy, comfortable and easygoing to drive, and that's just what it is. There's a little bit of body lean during cornering, but there's still plenty of grip and predictable steering response that makes it feel reassuring, whatever the conditions.

Ride comfort is good, too, with the suspension soaking up the worst of the bumps and ruts in the road. The overall experience is one of an old-school SUV, despite the Forester's very modern safety and electronic assistance systems. Some may prefer the fact it doesn't feel remotely sporty to drive, but if not, there are countless alternative SUVs that drive far better on the road, including the Ford Kuga and Kia Sportage.

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Richard is editor of DrivingElectric, as well as sister site Carbuyer.co.uk, and a regular contributor to Auto Express. An electric and hybrid car advocate, he spent more than five years working on the news and reviews desk at Auto Express and has driven almost every new car currently on sale.

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