Previewed earlier this year at the Geneva Motor Show, and now built Subaru’s Global Platform, the all-new fifth generation Forester is on sale in the UK – with the new e-Boxer powertrain. Alongside the fresh motor-assisted propulsion, the Forester also comes with advanced safety technology, a refreshed appearance, X-Mode off-road capabilities which, of course, uses permanent symmetrical all-wheel drive.

Utilising the Global Platform not only means the new Forester is very safe, but it has a 40% stiffer body than its predecessor and is also the reason it has been able to become hybridised. The 2.0-litre horizontally-opposed petrol boxer unit is assisted by an electric motor. A lithium-ion battery is mounted underneath the boot floor, and it allows for full EV driving at speeds below 25mph and can save up to 10% on fuel consumption. An updated Lineartronic gearbox also features, and there are three driving modes: EV, Motor Assisted and Engine driving.

When we briefly tried out the e-Boxer powertrain earlier this year, we found that the gearbox felt suited the powertrain rather well, and not only did it feel better than that in the outgoing model but it remained smooth when changing between driving modes and overall felt more usable.

Whilst EV mode is predominantly for urban surroundings with stop-start traffic, Motor Assisted driving is well-suited to off-road driving. It generates torque earlier in X-Mode and is also useful when towing – the capacity of which is 1,870kg.

Up at cruising speeds, the e-Boxer unit will rely solely on its engine. It will, however, take the opportunity to recharge the battery where possible, so it is always on hand when needed.

Subaru have designed the e-Boxer system with the same attention to detail that they give everything they do. In the symmetrical layout, the electric motor and battery pack are aligned longitudinally. with the heavy motor situated close to the vehicle’s centre of gravity. Other components are placed above the rear axle, meaning the Forester remains planted thanks to its favourable weight distribution.

Along with improved strength, the Global Platform also absorbs more energy in impact, whilst allowing for less intrusive road noise but more responsive steering.

With safety paramount in Subaru’s philosophy, the new Forest comes with EyeSight driver assistance as standard, which uses two cameras to monitor  the road. Monitoring for hazards up to 110 metres ahead, the suite includes Adaptive Cruise Control, Pre-Collision Throttle Management, Lane Sway and Departure Warning, Lane Keep Assist and to work with the cruise control, Lead Vehicle Start Alert. Rear Vehicle Detection looks out for collisions from the rear with Blind spot Monitoring, Lane Change Assist and Rear Cross Traffic Alert, whilst there is also Reverse Automatic Braking.

Brand new for Subaru is the Driver Monitoring System which debuts in the Forester e-Boxer, alerting the driver to place attention on the road with audile warnings. The system is able to identify when a driver is drowsy, but it will not action warnings when the vehicle is stopped nor when the indicator is on. The system can also be programmed to recognise the faces of up to five drivers and remember and set the positioning of the seat and door mirrors, plus preferences for air conditioning and infotainment settings.

For the Forester e-Boxer, X-Mode has two new settings: Snow/Dirt and Deep Snow/Mud for slippery road surfaces and situation where the tyres may become somewhat buried respectively. In X-Mode, Hill Descent Control is also activated.

On the outside, the Forester has got more contoured body panels and prominent wheel arches that display its rugged personality. New alloys are available for both the XE and XE Premium trims. Both have keyless entry, eight-way power adjustable front seats with driver memory function, LED headlights, and 8″ touchscreen with both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

XE Premium adds leather seats that are heated front and rear, a heated steering wheel, inbuilt sat-nav, privacy glass, bigger 18″ alloys, a sunroof and a power tailgate.

The new Subaru Forest e-Boxer is in showrooms now, with pricing for the new range starts at £33,995 for an XE model on the road.

At the Geneva Motor Show this morning, Subaru revealed their all-new e-Boxer XV and Forester models.

Subarus have always been made to a set few criteria – to be safe, fun and tough – whether that be a snarling blue saloon with gold wheels or their ever-dependable SUVs. But with this announcement, they are bringing their first electrified models to the market.

Combining a 2.0-litre diesel boxer engine, a trademark unit that has been specifically tuned for each model, with an electric motor assisting the Lineartronic gearbox and a rear mounted lithium ion battery, the new powertrain has been engineered to maintain the superb safety scores of Subaru’s Global Platform whilst also improving efficiency.

In city driving situations, the e-Boxer uses 11% less fuel than its 2.0-litre petrol stablemate, and it can be used in a full EV mode at certain times. The system is a mild-hybrid setup, that will assist the engine using electric power in tougher situations, and also takes the opportunity to recharge where possible.

The electric aspects also increase acceleration response, and the fact that the engine isn’t working alone means that it is quieter, too.

The new powertrain also protects the ride quality of the existing models, and having driven it ourselves at an exclusive preview, we can confirm that the electrified powertrain only enhances the ride of both XV and Forester models.

The additions included in the e-Boxer upgrades only see 25kg added to the overall weight of the both the XV and Forester, and the mild hybrid models also match the luggage capacities of standard models, weigh just 1,100kgs more and can also to 1,270kg – just 130kg below the best full combustion models.

In the development of the e-Boxer, Subaru consulted their loyal customer base and ascertained that a full hybrid was not what their clientele wanted at the time. Their long-term plan, however, is to go straight from mild-hybrid to full-electric vehicles as the market demands.

The new e-Boxer models feature the same X-Mode as all of the latest Subaru 4x4s, and in our brief but exclusive preview, the battery enhanced powertrain was impressive off-road and retained usability and comfort on the road.

Safety features are also at the forefront of the e-Boxer models, with not only the ever attentive and protective Eye Sight system installed, but other features like automatic reverse braking and facial recognition enhancing the driving experience. Once the facial recognition system is initialised, the car will recognise the driver and align the driving position to his or her pre-set position.

The e-Boxer models can be expected in the UK later this year, and pricing and UK relevant specs should be expected in due course.

Subaru have announced the pricing and specifications for the new Outback in the UK, with the model receiving styling updates and an influx of safety tech.

Updated for 2018, the outback has received both interior and exterior design adjustments, including a new grille and redesigned bumpers, wing mirrors and headlights. Inside, the touchscreen has grown an inch (now 8″) on the SE Premium model, and the system is compatible with Apple and Android smartphones and has DAB radio. The SE trim now gets heated front seats and the 6.5″ touchscreen has been updated.

A camera placed below the Subaru badge provides an 180º view from the front, and with side cameras underneath the door mirrors no obstacle is out of view. Lane assist is also included as standard, alongside adaptive cruise, lead vehicle start alert and pre-collision braking and throttle management as part of the EyeSight safety features. Steer responsive headlights are also a new feature.

The Outback is also set up in such a way that in a collision, the engine is forced below the cabin, offering even more assured safety.

The 2018 model is available at exactly the same prices as before the update, with SE trim starting at £29,995 and SE Premium at £33,010.

Subaru have revealed their Viziv Tourer concept for the first time at the Geneva Motor Show – an AWD touring concept akin to the active lifestyle and ready for autonomous tech.

The Viziv Tourer uses a symmetrical four-wheel drive system and a boxer engine, in a frame not much bigger than a current XV. Slightly shorter than the production vehicle, the Viziv isn’t as rough and ready, but has been equipped ‘a crossover mix of values to enhance active lifestyles’. Other than the four-wheel drive system, there’s not too much of an indication as to what these are, but given the brand’s form in practical, robust tourers, you’d be in the minority to doubt its practicality.

 

The new XV is the first SUV on Subaru’s Global Platform – which will eventually underpin all the company’s vehicles. It’s good news for customers, because the XV and Impreza – which is also based on the new platform – take the top two places in EuroNCAP’s league table for child occupant protection.

It’s designed to route energy more efficiently through the body of the car in the event of a crash, and the engine is mounted in a cradle which carries it underneath the passenger compartment.

But to avoid that eventuality, the XV now features autonomous emergency braking, lane departure warning and rear cross-traffic alert, linked in to Subaru’s EyeSight system which uses a pair of cameras to create a 3D image of the road ahead. The XV will self-steer to a degree, too, to keep you on the straight and narrow, and if you try to pull away before the car in front, it’ll kill the gas.

And it looks after you the rest of the time, too. Inside, the XV’s cabin feels more modern than the old model’s, with a slick design and excellent build quality. The dashboard is dominated by a large screen which does the stuff you want it to but not the stuff you don’t – i.e. the heating and air-con which get traditional buttons.

We like the all-round view from the vehicle, too, as well as the space in the front seats. The rears aren’t as good – one six-footer can sit behind another, but not without compromise.

The rear seats drop down to leave a cargo floor with a sizeable step in it and a sloping front section. There’s a high lip at the tailgate aperture, too – because the floor is set low to allow the tallest possible luggage space.

The XV’s seating position is quite sporty, as is the vehicle’s willingness to be driven with verve.

The new platform is stiffer, with a low centre of gravity as well as a side-to-side balance of weight which flatters Subaru’s all-wheel drive system, letting the vehicle grip more tenaciously while steering and handling with greater feel and sharpness. It feels alert, and it also covers the ground very smoothly, with real composure.

You might not be surprised by any of that, but you’re unlikely to be expecting the XV to slay any giants off-road. Incredibly, though, we took on some mud on the luanch – the kind you really wouldn’t fancy having a go at on the wrong tyres. They wouldn’t have done this, of course, if they hadn’t tested it first. But this was on standard 18” tyres with the regulation amount of air in them. There was wheelspin, and a certain amount of sideways action as the vehicles found themselves a way through, but the fact is that we didn’t once see one getting into difficulties.

There’s no low box and the short stroke of the suspension means that although ground clearance is good, lifting wheels will always be an issue. But a standard CVT gearbox to some extent overcomes the absence of low range and, with Subaru’s X-Mode system now fitted, the XV’s traction control kicks in at lower speeds to prevent wheelspin.

There’s also a very effective hill descent control system whose set speed can be fine-tuned by dabbing the pedals, allowing you to tackle surprisingly rough terrain with much more control and finesse than a crossover estate normally allows.

Overall, there’s more off-road ability here than we believed possible in a car of this nature – Subaru is a past master at making estates perform in the mud, but the company has excelled itself here.

That’s the icing on top for a vehicle which makes a very good first impression indeed. And it’s a good first impression in more ways than one – because with the XV’s new platform set to go under the next Forester and Outback, Subaru has some very good times ahead.

Read the full review in the next issue of 4×4, out 9th February.