All smell that ends well

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STEPHEN CORBY

The Corby clan throws up a holiday challenge

WHEN I recall the seemingly endless, pre- Jetstar summer drives of my youth, the smell wafts across the years; that prickly parmesan scent of vomit.

The heat is there as well, of course, the baking, sticky vinyl-seat heat of the era before air-conditioning, with steel belt buckles that could tattoo your buttocks, and the window-down hair-dryer air blowing in from outside.

Possibly the heat played its part in car sickness, but I remember going through it, or being covered in it, many times, and watching others suffer. And yet it still came as a huge surprise last month when my oldest, an eight-year-old boy with what turns out to be a rocket-powered stomach, filled the back of the Forester, just 150 metres short of our holiday-house destination.

There really arenít many smells as pungently painful, and I had to forgive his tears because I cry when I vomit, too (but at least Iím drunk and emotional).

The advantage of those old vinyl seats soon became all too apparent. Our modern, luxurious perforated leather pews, cleverly designed to improve below-buttock airflow, are clearly not made to cope with stomach contents, but they sure do soak up the smell.

At least the floor mats were easy to remove and hose down.

That small but smelly disaster aside, the Forester proved an excellent companion for our holiday jaunt, swallowing up all of our crap with ease and providing comfortable accommodation for two thrashing, fighting children in the back.

The effortless 2.0-litre turbo-petrol, which seems slightly less extravagant now that the price of premium unleaded has dropped, makes freeway overtaking effortless, but it does help if you keep the Subaru Intelligent Drive in Sport mode rather than Intelligent, an option that suggests the smart choice is a slightly doughy throttle response. This has led to me now driving around town in Sport mode as well, which might not help the XTís fuel consumption, but the long trips did at least see us sitting in the 9L/100km range for a while.

Just to put the wee ladís guts to the test, I chose the longer, windier way home and finally got a chance to use SportSharp mode, which promises ďan exhilarating driveĒ, even in a pseudo SUV like this one (which also features an X-Mode for muddy hills that I may struggle to ever use).

Perhaps I wasnít expecting much, but I really am surprised by how lively and involving the Forester is. Itís no WRX, but you can tell theyíre related by the way they steer, and you really wouldnít have to give up driving pleasure to own one.

I do hope all these kind, and true, words make Subaru feel slightly better about the whole defoulment thing.

SUBARU FORESTER XT PREMIUM

Date acquired: November 2014 Price as tested: $50,490 This month: 923km @ 10.9L/100km Overall: 2626km @ 11.6L/100km

Not a sound heard in the Forester

LETíS talk reversing cameras. Apparently they are the cure for all ills, and all idiots, with even tiny cars now boasting them, but the Forester has made me realise how little I love them. It has a camera, but no reverse beeper, and Iíd prefer the opposite.

Perhaps itís because I have a neck that still fully swivels, but I like to look behind me when reversing. The beeps are handy for knowing exactly how far that tree is from your bumper. You sure do miss that annoying sonar sound when itís gone.

HOT HEAD

Sunroof is genuinely panoramic but in summer it turns into a solar heating panel, so the sunshade is constantly closed