IT is 40 years next year since Subaru launched their cars in the UK and created an immediate good impression because all of them had four wheel drive which at that time was something of a rarity for only big off-roaders like Land Rover had 4x4 transmission across the range writes Bryan Longworth.
I remember being very impressed when they introduced their new models to UK motoring journalists on steep and muddy land on a Pennine farm because without exception they all displayed amazing traction qualities in the most difficult conditions which had hitherto been the sole preserve of off-roaders such as Land Rover.
But the 4x4 qualities of the Subaru cars even the small models helped to establish them in the UK over the years with some very distinguished owners especially in the aristocracy and now they have established an impressive reputation in the UK with their range including the best selling Forester which I have just been testing.
Their famous Boxer flat four cylinder engines also helped sell the Scooby range and while they were rather late introducing a diesel engine they have since caught up and my diesel powered Forester was a perfect example of just why Subarus have sold so well in the UK. My test car was the latest entry level Forester 2.0D XC with six speed manual transmission priced at £26,995 which had rather conservative but classy styling that is appealing especially to the horsey and farming set who don't like anything too flash but will do a good job in all weather conditions and also be a good tow vehicle.
The 2.0-litre diesel engine produced a top speed of 118mph zero to 62mph in 9.9 seconds a combined fuel consumption of 49.6mpg (the on board computer showed the real world average was very close to this figure which is quite commendable) and CO2 emissions of 148g/km.
As soon as I started driving the Forester with its high driving position that offers a commanding view ahead and to each side I knew I would enjoy my time with it because it felt just right for steering and handling and at night the swivelling LED headlamps provided one of the best lighting systems I have encountered making night driving much more relaxing.
This entry level Forester was well equipped with standard kit that included a rear view camera, towing vehicle dynamics control system and a rear load compensating self levelling system.
The instruments and controls were very user friendly and the multi function display provided easy to see information about features such as fuel consumption and the fuel range plus other useful data.
There is a very roomy and comfortable cabin and at the rear there is a large load area that is easily accessed and underneath there is a spare wheel which is a big plus in these days of puncture repair kits now replacing spare wheels on so many cars.
My only grumble concerned the ignition key fob which was not very user friendly and because of its shallow rather dated design it is prone to the driver pressing the door lock and unlock buttons by mistake when starting the engine.
I have some very good memories of driving Subaru cars over the years and the latest Forester is a perfect example of just why this innovative Japanese company has established their models in the UK and why they are so much appreciated by owners in rural areas in particular because of their all weather capabilities.
Model: Subaru Forester 2.0D XC.
Engine: 2.0-litre diesel. Output: 147PS.
Transmission: Six speed manual. Top speed: 118mph.
Acceleration: 0 to 62mph 9.9 seconds.
Fuel consumption: 49.6mpg combined.
CO2 emissions: 148g/km.