Continuous love



Transmission ends for our Subie wagon

WHEN you love someone, or something, you forgive them all sorts of foibles, and even pretend their flaws donít exist. My wife pretends Iím not fat, for example.

Thus itís a sure sign that Iíve had a lot of love for my now departed Subaru Forester, because it managed to distract me, right up until this goodbye letter, from the fact it possesses one of my most hated features: a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT).

The Forester XT comes with Subaruís Lineartronic CVT, which must be one of the better ones because it really didnít bother me much for almost four months of driving. I can only assume I was willfully overlooking it, blinded by my love for the mock SUVís justright size, ease of child loading, ruggedly notawful styling and general practicality.

When CVTs were first launched, I hated them with the kind of passion I normally reserve for South African cricketers who play for England, and did everything I could to avoid driving one, despite much car-company spruiking about how they were the inevitable future of everything.

Fortunately things havenít turned out that way; blessedly, CVTs, like this one, are getting better, less droney and buzzy and uninvolving. Indeed, on long trips and even in sporty driving Ė when you can choose to use the paddles and change through virtual gears to keep you interested Ė you really donít notice it performing its function.

Spend time doing nothing but innercity schlepping, however, and that kind of pointless roar of spinny nothingness a CVT gives when you plant it off the line, or launch off another stinkiní speed hump, starts to grind on you. Iíd much prefer a manual.

The school running Iíve done has not been kind to the fuel economy, either, with the last full tank getting me just 295km at the rate of about 18L/100km.

The carís thirst for premium unleaded can be unhealthy if youíre never really stretching its legs, but on longer trips itís fine, and you enjoy the turbo 2.0-litreís 177kW and 350Nm of enthusiasm when you do encounter a nice bit of road. Overall, Iíd rate the economy issue as bearable, although Iíd be very keen to see how the recently released turbo-diesel version compares. Its claimed figure is just 5.9L/100km, compared to the Forester XTís optimistic 8.1.

Aside from the much-mentioned Eyesight technology, which most normal people would probably really appreciate, and the CVT, there isnít much about the Forester I didnít love. And with its fruit-filled cabin and nice wheels, I reckon itís pretty good value.

Iíll be sad to see it go, as will my children, who have become very attached to Big Bluey.


Wagon consumed heaps of gear for a weekend away, but that low tailgate opening height annoyed to the end

You complete me, almost

NORMALLY I find myself in long-termers that would never suit my lifestyle, like a Hyundai i30, but the Forester is exactly the size of car I need, for now, and provides the kind of driving involvement I want, albeit in small amounts. There are so many school-running Foresters in my city that Iíd feel like just another harangued soccer mom, but Iíd consider the cheaper diesel version, with the six-speed manual. Or maybe a WRX wagon... I reckon I could put up with that.


Date acquired: November 2014 Price as tested: $50,490 This month: 1180km @ 13.7/100km Overall: 3806km @ 12.4L/100km