The Subaru Forester e-Boxer has earned a reputation for being a hard-working utilitarian vehicle. it’s the sort of car that you buy if you live a muddy heavy duty rural lifestyle. however, being able to tow a trailer full of sheep or tackle a deeply rutted path with ease doesn’t have to come at the cost of efficiency. if you ask Subaru because they have put a full hybrid powertrain in the Forester. so it now gets the 2-liter boxer petrol engine complete with a small lithium-ion battery and an electric motor to help boost performance and economy. and of course, on top of that, you still get the permanent four-wheel drive and all the ruggedness that you expect with the Forester.
However having said all of that, official figures put efficiency for this car at 35 mpg and 154 g/km of CO2. which is underwhelming, to say the least. not only that, but it costs from 36,000 pounds up to nearly 40,000 pounds for the top-spec car. so that is well into high spec Toyota rav4 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV Honda CRV territory. so I think on that note the Forester e-Boxer has got quite a lot to prove. so let’s get it out there and see what it’s got to offer.
First off let’s clarify the tech this is a full hybrid or Subaru described as a self-charging hybrid and that means that you cannot plug it in. the small battery pack is only ever charged up by the car’s forward momentum or its braking system. this energy gives the car a small amount of pure electric running at very low speeds. but it mostly works to boost the performance and economy of that 2-liter four-cylinder boxer engine.
So I’m gonna start by talking about the economy and I’m afraid it’s not great news. so even just driving this fairly sedately often down the motorway a little bit of town stuff. we’ve only managed 33 mpg. now honestly I realized that this being quite a big SUV and it being a forester e-Boxer with quite decent off-road potential. people aren’t going to expect it to be economical. even as a hybrid but I still think that’s disappointing to the point where I think it could be a deal-breaker for a lot of people.
But it’s not that surprising that you don’t get that great economy. because the electricity running in this car is very poor. there’s no ev mode. so you can’t force it into electric mode for any length of time at all. it’s only ever in pure electric mode when you’re pulling away stand still just for a few moments. other than that it’s just there to be sort of efficiency and performance.
Sadly it doesn’t seem to do very much of the former and not very much of the latter either when it comes to the performance. I mean this car has got 148 brake horsepower 196 Newton meters of torque. which is nothing fantastic. it has got that 2-liter petrol boxer engine. now you might or might not know what a boxer engine is all it means is that the cylinders like horizontally like that rather than upright like they do in most engines. regardless it means the engine makes a different noise. feels a bit smoother slightly different bit from the ear. regardless, it’s an age-old technology that Subaru is quite famous for.
The engine itself is quite decent quite like it. but this CVT automatic gearbox although it does have a sort of fake gear changes that you can force it through. it’s still that’s the engine buzz loudly when you accelerate. and given that it only does not decision to in about eleven point eight seconds. and even in the mid-range, it feels pretty weedy. it’s just not a great performance.
Still, look I sound like I’m on a big down about this car. and I’m not because I genuinely like it. I like the view out over the bonnet. it’s cool. I like the fact that it just feels like a proper old-school SUV. it’s got nice ride comfort loads of body lean. but I don’t think anybody’s going to mind about that too much given the nature of this car. and other than that it’s just got a nice cushy feel to it. refinement definitely could be better given the engine noise you do get quite a bit of time always.
Again given that this is a forester and what people are going to expect of it probably that’s not going to be a big deal. what people are looking for is things like the 5-year 100,000-mile warranty that this car comes with eight years on the battery by the way. and they just like the fact that it’s a durable proper off-roader. and talking about proper off-roading, let’s go and do a bit of that.
So here we are on our off-road course and you know by no means is it the Rubicon Trail. we’re not going rock crawling here. but it is a very slippery muddy woodland track which is probably quite typical of what the average Subaru Forester e-Boxer owner in the UK might face. now, this is one of the Foresters party tricks. because I’ve been talking about rivals like the rav4 and CRV. honestly, it’s not even worth talking about them in the same breath. as the Forester e-Boxer when it comes to off-roading. because this has got the permanent all-wheel drive. as opposed to any sort of active systems that improve efficiency.
But don’t help so much in more serious offroading. and I mean this has got automatic hill descent control. so I’ve got no feet on the pedals at the moment and the car just judges how quickly it should go down the track. and that’s great it’s very controlled. feels very secure. and I must say it’s just brilliant around to it. it just sorts of shrugs off the whole thing. it feels as secure and easy-going around really quite deep mud and puddles and quite severe stuff that it does just driving on the road. and that is one of the Subaru Forester e-Boxer’s great assets and I think that is probably why you’d buy it.
I think this is gonna be a very niche car for people who have fairly niche needs. but if you’re one of them then I mean this is not going to disappoint. if only it weren’t so flipping expensive. I mean even on Finance this thing is 400 pounds a month and more even for the base car. after a 6,000 pound deposit. for four years. so I don’t know I like it I just wish it were cheaper and more efficient.
Interior and specs
I would say that the Forester e-Boxer lives up to the sort of durable heavy-duty utilitarian character that you expect of a Forester. but that’s not to say that it feels bad in here or cheap or anything. the materials feel quite nice. you know yeah it’s nice gloss black plastic. the leather steering wheel on every forester even entry-level cars although they get upholstery seats rather than the leather that we’ve got in this premium model. you still got climate control, you get keyless entry and go, you get you even get heated windscreen wipers, as well as heated seats and that kind of thing so it is gonna be a comfortable and well-equipped car whatever trim you go for.
If you do want to go for the premium spec it’s some four thousand pounds more which I think it’s quite steep. but you do get the sunroof this leather seats as I said every forest gets electric seat adjustment and a really good driving position great visibility as well. so I think the base spec Forester is probably the one to go for. especially since you also get the 8-inch touch screen on every forester including apple car play and android auto which is great news because of the knife that you get if you do go for the top-spec forester. it’s just a little bit old-school, to be honest, it’s lagging behind Volkswagen or Hyundai and Kia BMW and that lot. so I think you’re best of the stick with the cheaper Forester and you’ve got everything you want really.
It’s as practical as you’d expect elsewhere in the forester – there’s plenty of room for two leggy adults to feel comfortable in the back seats. and a OneTouch system makes it easy to fold down the seatbacks completely flat. the 520-liter boot is impressively big. bigger even than that in a Passat GTE estate or Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV. if not quite as big as the boot in the Toyota rav4 or Honda CRV. you have to go for premium trim if you want the powered boot lid.
I like the Forester e-Boxer. I like the bluff no-nonsense attitude to it it’s sort of the anti-SUV to all those style first crossovers that are out there but the numbers just don’t add up the co2 means a completely scuppered is there any company car and no matter how you buy or drive will use your car that economy is going to be disappointing so unless you are in that very niche audience that does need the off-road prowess at the Forester than I don’t think it’s justifiable.
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