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Subaru Forester


Audi Q2

Summary

Subaru Forester

This is not the Subaru Forester Sport model they get in Japan, and it's therefore not the one most Aussies have been desperate to see launched here.

Nope, the giveaway is the 2.5i part of the name for this 2021 Subaru Forester 2.5i Sport model, which has just been added to the brand's range to add a bit more of an eye-catching variant to the line-up.

In Japan, the Sport gets a new turbocharged petrol engine, but this one instead soldiers on with the same powerplant as the rest of the Forester range, but there have been plenty of changes and additions besides.

Is it any good? Should you buy a Forester Sport over one of its many rivals, like the Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V or Mazda CX-5? Let's try and answer those questions in this review.

Safety rating
Engine Type2.5L turbo
Fuel TypeRegular Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency7.4L/100km
Seating5 seats

Audi Q2

This is the 'Eureka!' moment for the Audi Q2. Finally, I get what they're going for, because this flagship performance-oriented petrol all-wheel drive (AWD) model is everything a fun, urban SUV should be.

When the Audi Q2 arrived in Australia earlier in 2017, it had the choice of a front-wheel drive (FWD) petrol or a pricey diesel version with AWD. But neither of those were as characterful or charming as perhaps we'd come to hope for when this boxy little bugger was unboxed.

But, finally, the 2018 Audi Q2 2.0 TFSI Quattro has arrived, and it all makes sense. And there have been a couple of extra little tweaks to the Audi Q2 2018 range - read on to find out more.

Safety rating
Engine Type2.0L turbo
Fuel TypePremium Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency6.5L/100km
Seating5 seats

Verdict

Subaru Forester7.8/10

The Subaru Forester Sport is an interesting new addition to the range, despite not really moving it forward in any other way apart from its eye-catching looks. It is a competitive counterpoint to the likes of the CX-5 and CR-V, but still doesn't quite reach the same levels of refinement and driving enjoyment of the RAV4.

There is no doubt the Forester Sport will add a level of appeal that Subaru has been needing in its family SUV range since launch, but we really think the thing that would get more customers excited would be a new turbocharged top-spec model, which would certainly be more deserving of the Sport name.


Audi Q27.4/10

There is no denying the Audi Q2 2018 model range is all the better for introduction of the 2.0 TFSI variant, which is the best of the bunch in this writer's humble opinion.

Just keep in mind that competition in the small SUV segment is fierce, and with a lot of options boxes to be ticked to get the ideal Q2, it may be worth looking at your options in the market, particularly if you need something practical.

Would you choose the Audi Q2? Or would another small SUV suit you better? Let us know in the comments section below.

Design

Subaru Forester8/10

If you've ever trawled the Subaru Japan website like me (high five, car nerds!), you might be thinking: "This Subaru Forester Sport model looks a lot like that Forester X-Break in Japan!". And you'd be right.

It is, essentially, the same car. Just with a considerably nicer looking set of wheels than the Japanese model. They aren't my favourite rims, but then again, I think the Forester's rims on the whole are pretty yuck.

Wheels aside, the flashes of orange around the car will no doubt catch your eye. There are plenty of them: the lower body protection has orange trim from the front bumper to the side skirts/sills and the rear bumper, too; plus there are orange bits as part of the roof rails, too.

The exterior also cops a bit of a blackout treatment, with new dark graphics front and rear, including a black garnish between the tail-lights. And of course, the rims are black, too.

Inside the style a bit more adventurous, with a smattering of orange trim highlights on the vent surrounds, the transmission tunnel, the stitching that runs on the dashboard, doors and seats, and even the eye-catching and intriguing mesh-look water-repellent trim on the seats that goes up to the doors, too. I guess Subaru assumes Forester Sport buyers will be spending a lot of time in the rain?

I really love the orange trim finishes - they really lift the ambience of the cabin and make it feel a bit more exciting than a regular Forester. In fact, it's like the Forester looked a bit further down the Subaru line-up to the XV and said, "Hey, how come you're getting all the attention?".

There are some inherently awesome SUV features that the Forester's interior design brings to the fore - we'll get to that in the next section.


Audi Q27/10

Ummm, have you seen the Audi Q2? It looks pretty much unlike all of the other Audi SUVs you can buy, and you'll either be a fan of that, or you won't.

There isn't much major visual differentiation between the newly added 2.0 TFSI Quattro version and the more affordable petrol model aside from this version rolling on 18-inch wheels as opposed to the 17s of the base petrol, and the entry-level model misses out on body-colour mouldings around the wheels, side skirts and bumpers. Both the quattro models look identical to one another.

Like all Q2s (and arguably all Audis) you need to option the S-line styling package to make it look how you probably want it to. You can get 19-inch wheels if you want that extra tough appearance, plus there are optional C-pillar blade colours ('Manhattan' grey metallic, 'Titanium' grey matt, 'Ice' silver metallic, or body colour), and buyers have 12 body colours to choose from.

Practicality

Subaru Forester9/10

The Forester could be the most practical vehicle in its class. Against the likes of the Toyota RAV4, Mitsubishi Outlander, Mazda CX-5 and VW Tiguan, it stacks up pretty well for cabin practicality, space utilisation and accommodation.

It's a nice, bright and airy place to be, with a big glasshouse that makes it feel a bit more outdoorsy than its rivals. The benefits of that are two-fold - it's easy to see out of, whether you're the driver or if you're a kid in the back.

Looking up front first, the Forester's cabin presentation is much more eye-catching in this grade. The other models in the range are, well, a bit bland. The Sport, though, is a bit more - dare I say it - sporty. And I personally hate models called Sport, but that's a story for another day.

The orange stitching everywhere and the orange metallic look finishes on the dash and the centre console - it combines for a more special feeling cabin than any of the other Foresters available.

I really appreciate the media screen Subaru offers - it's easy to use and is bright and colourful, and also the flush finish design - not a floating tablet style screen - does make it just a little easier to use. However there is a secondary screen above it, which shows you a bunch of information about the car that you theoretically will never actually need to know.

That top pod also has a driver monitoring camera system which is looking at you all the time and will warn you if you take your eyes off the road for too long. Intriguingly, it flashes a warning onto another screen - the one on the instruments, which also makes you look away from the road...

It really is a button and screen overload. If you like minimalism, you're not going to like the number of things in front of you as the driver of a Forester. But they all have a purpose (sort of), and for me, it's better than everything being run through touch screens!

The front seats are quite comfortable, with electric adjustment for the driver and passenger. Both are electric adjusted and heated as well, which is nice, and the material used is genuinely really comfortable - it's like a good quality couch.

Even though those are nice elements, I couldn't find myself a perfect driving position – I feel like I sat just a little too high and I couldn't get the steering wheel in quite the right position for my preferences.

Storage is mostly okay up front: the cupholders between the seats are a little bit deep so small takeaway coffees might be hard to get out, and there are bottle holders in the doors, a small cubby in front of the gear selector for a wallet and/or phone, and that's also where you'll find 2USB ports. No wireless phone charging, though.

The overall space for a family of four is perfectly usable. There is no seven seater version of the Forester, nor any seven-set SUV in the brand's range at all in Australia, so it's strictly a smaller family affair, or a good option for grandparents on duty.

There's very good second row seat space, with a high seating position and hip point allowing for adults to easily slot in there (I'm 182cm/6'0" and I can fit behind my driving position with heaps of leg, toe and headroom to spare), but it's also a handy height for child loading, with dual ISOFIX and three top-tether points. Weirdly, though, Subaru has kept with the ceiling-mounted centre seatbelt, and the seat is flat and a bit uncomfortable for adults in terms of cushioning and support. Great for child seats, though.

There are plenty of smart features in the second row, including twin map pockets on the seat backs, one of which is sectioned and divided for smaller items. Plus there are those two USB ports for charging devices (again, perfect for a family of four), and there are rear directional air vents. There is a fold-down armrest with cupholders, plus bottle holders in the doors.

Weirdly there are LED lighting pods for the boot and the tailgate, and up in the front of the cabin there is LED lighting, too - but in the centre, the middle lighting pod is halogen. Weird.

The boot area offers 498 litres of cargo capacity (VDA) with the seats up, but hit the electric release levers (handy!) at the sides of the boot and you liberate a total 1740L of space - enough for a pair of mountain bikes or a few weeks' worth of camping gear for a couple.

Plus there are shopping bag hooks on the outer sides of the boot area and one on the tailgate,, plus four tie down points if you need to attach things and stop it from rolling around. There's a cargo blind, and a 12 V outlet in the boot, too.


Audi Q26/10

Well, let's put it this way - if you want the most pragmatic and thoughtful small SUV out there, you should be looking at the Mini Countryman or BMW X1, both of which offer supreme space for their size.

That isn't to say that the Q2 is impractical - it still has a 355-litre boot space in quattro models (405-litre for the FWD version), and you could fit five adults in at a squeeze, provided they aren't big boppers. If you have children, the dual ISOFIX points and three top-tether hooks will be of note, and there are rear seat air-vents in all Q2 models.

Storage is reasonably well sorted up front, with cupholders between the seats and decent door pockets, as well as a few little trinket cubbies here and there. In the back, though, there is no fold-down armrest (meaning no cupholders), but you can fit a bottle in each of the doors. Map pockets aren't standard, either.

There are plenty of tricks Audi has employed with the interior styling of the Q2 - at a glance, it looks pretty smart and funky. But there are cost-cutting measures evident, like the scratchy plastics on the doors and hard plastics down below your eye-line.

Price and features

Subaru Forester8/10

The new Subaru Forester 2.5i Sport model is a $41,990 proposition - that's the MSRP/RRP, or the price before on-road costs (you might find driveaway deals if you search Autotrader, though).

It slots in between the 2.5i Premium ($39,490) and the 2.5i-S ($42,990), but it stands out compared to both of those versions with a revamped design and a number of inclusions over the models below it, but most of them are visual differentiators which we'll detail in the next section.

Let's consider the standard equipment offered here: black 18-inch alloy wheels with a full size spare, an electric sunroof, water repellent cloth interior trim, electric front seat adjustment (driver's side with memory settings), heated front seats, electric tailgate, electric folding rear seats, smart key hands-free entry and push button start, auto headlights and auto wipers.

There's also a 8.0-inch touchscreen media system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring tech, DAB+ digital radio, CD player, six speakers, Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, 4xUSB ports (2x front, 2x rear), a 4.2-inch digital driver info display with digital speedo, and a leather-lined steering wheel and shifter.

The safety story is a very strong one - see the section below for all the details.

Things missing from the 2.5i Sport that you might want for include an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, a proper surround-view camera, and leather seat trim.

Colours available for this spec comprise: Crystal Black silica, Crystal White pearl (as seen here), Dark Blue pearl (exclusive to Sport), Ice Silver metallic, Magnetite Grey metallic and Sepia Bronze metallic. The green and red options are not available on Sport, but no matter the colour you opt for, it won't cost you any extra.

Obviously though, you might want to choose carefully, as there are some orange highlights inside and out that might not match up with your preferred colour choice. Let's get to that next.


Audi Q27/10

The range kicks off from $41,800 for the 1.4 TFSI Design model (up $700 since its early 2017 launch), while the quattro AWD models include the new 2.0 TFSI sport model at $48,500 and the range-topping 2.0 TDI sport, which lists at $49,100 (previously $47,900).

There is a good amount of standard kit fitted to all Q2 models, including the addition of new LED headlights, which are far more attractive, not to mention more illuminating, than the existing halogens. The brand's 'MMI' multimedia controller with sat nav and 'Audi Connect' makes use of a 7.0-inch dash-top screen, and the car comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard in all models, too.

There is dual-zone climate control across the range, while the quattro models get an electric tailgate as standard. All models have an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, and the entry-grade model sports 17-inch wheels, where the quattro versions score 18s.

Leather seat trim is standard across the line-up, with the quattro models adopting sports seats for extra support, though seat heating is an option on all versions, and manual seat adjustment is the norm, too.

There is a good deal of standard gear, sure - but if you want to make your Audi Q2 a bit more special, there is a range of optional packs that may be of interest to you: it has sort of become the norm for premium brands, offering strong standard kit but a bunch of enhancement packages for those who want a little more to brag about.

For the safety-conscious there's the 'Assistance Pack' ($990 - see the safety section below for details of what's in the pack, and what's new for 2018), and a lot of people are likely to want to go for the 'Comfort Pack', a $1900 option that includes keyless entry and start, electric lumbar adjustment, heated and folding side mirrors with dimming, heated front seats, luggage nets on the front seat backs, a luggage net in the boot (and a light back there... can't believe that's not standard?), and drawers under the front seats.

The 'Technik Pack' is appealing, too, with Audi's 'Virtual Cockpit' 12.3-inch driver info display, an upgraded media screen (8.3-inch) and a flat-bottom steering wheel. It costs $2500. And if you want more street cred, you might want to consider one of the S-line styling packs (there is a base version for the entry-level model, and a more comprehensive pack for the quattro variants).

Engine & trans

Subaru Forester7/10

As mentioned in the introduction, we don't see the new 1.8-litre turbo-petrol engine here, with its 132kW/300Nm currently not available for our market.

Instead, the 2.5i part of the name indicated a carryover 2.5-litre four-cylinder horizontally-opposed 'boxer' engine producing 136kW of power (at 5800rpm) and 239Nm of torque (at 4400rpm). No turbo here.

The Forester is available solely with a continuously variable transmission (CVT) Lineartronic automatic gearbox, and as it's a Subie, of course it has the brand's "Symmetrical" all-wheel drive (AWD) system standard, too.

The Sport grade isn't available with the brand's hybrid powertrain, though that's no great loss. Read our review where we compared that version against the excellent RAV4 hybrid to see how it fared

The 2.5i models have seen a towing upgrade for 2021, with the unbraked rating set at 750 kilograms, while the braked towing capacity is now 1800kg (up from a meagre 1500kg in earlier models).


Audi Q28/10

The new 2.0 TFSI turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine is considerably punchier than the existing 1.4 turbo-petrol, with 140kW of power and 320Nm of torque. That turns this litter jigger into something like a boxy hot hatch on stilts.

Audi claims a 0-100km/h sprint time of 6.5 seconds, so finally it has the performance muscle to match those chiseled exterior panels.

Unlike the other, more affordable petrol model the 2.0 TFSI has quattro AWD. The 1.4 TFSI persists with 110kW/250Nm and a sprint time of 8.5sec, while the 2.0 TDI retains its 110kW/320Nm outputs and can shuffle to highway pace in 8.1sec. All Q2 models have seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmissions.

Fuel consumption

Subaru Forester7/10

The official combined cycle fuel consumption figure for the Forester 2.5i Sport is identical to the rest of the range: 7.4 litres per 100 kilometres, with emissions claimed at 168g/km CO2.

On test, we saw an at the pump fuel economy of 9.5L/100km across a mix of urban, highway, country and open road driving (plus a very short unsealed off-highway stint).

Fuel tank capacity is 63 litres. It can run on the more affordable 91RON regular unleaded.


Audi Q27/10

Audi claims fuel consumption for this flagship petrol model is 6.5L/100km. That makes it 1.2L/100km thirstier than the front-drive petrol, and 1.5L higher than the diesel - but you get a lot more performance from this model.

On the launch loop, which involved high-speed country roads, dirt tracks and some minor urban chicanery, we saw a figure of 7.6L/100km in the top-spec petrol - pretty respectable.

Driving

Subaru Forester7/10

The Subaru Forester is a smooth and decent family SUV, one that doesn't necessarily do anything exceptionally well, but nor is it terrible at anything when it comes to on-road driving.

In fact, my biggest complaint is the noise intrusion - there's quite a bit of tyre roar through even normal road surfaces, and coarse chip roads are louder again. There's also wind noise up around the windscreen and mirrors, and the engine is noisy under acceleration because of the CVT automatic transmission, and it doesn't sound overly delightful, either.

That said, the 2.5-litre engine's response is pretty good, offering decent and linear power delivery. It's not fast, not overly fun, and the CVT auto does rob it some of the excitement you might want. However, it jumps away from a standstill pretty nicely, and if you can hit the sweet spot when you're accelerating you might be surprised by its brisk response.

There are paddle shifters to take matters into your own hands - though even if you use the SI drive mode selector (Sport or Intelligent drive modes), it's less thrusty than turbocharged competitors (Ford Escape) or even hybrid-powered rivals (Toyota RAV4).

The ride comfort is quite good, there's a nice supple attitude to the suspension and the way it controls itself over bumps, but it is quite soft and that means that there is some noticeable body roll in corners.

Thankfully the seats are really quite nice and offer good support, and while the steering is decently weighted and accurate enough it's hardly the last word in excitement for thrills. I'm also not much of a fan of the lane keeping system and how it affects the steering, as it interrupts the smoothness of your steering a little too much. There's a button you can hit to turn it off, but you have to do it every time.

And that driver-monitoring camera system really does make you realise how much you're not looking at the road ahead. I'm a constant glancer, looking at whatever is driving past or whatever I see parked in people's driveways, and the system really made me realise that.

Because it's a Forester with all-wheel drive, I took it for a brief light off road review expedition, where it lived up to the brand's adventure-focused persona.

The most impressive element was a combination of nice high ground clearance (220mm), plus the way that soft suspension rolled over rocks and bumps allows decent travel to the suspension, and good control to the driver's hands, too.

The drive mode selection system allows you to choose "snow/dirt" or "deep snow/mud", meaning soggy camping trips or drives to the snow should be pretty well catered for. Like most soft-roading vehicles and crossovers, though, the tyres will be your biggest letdown but also your easiest upgrade. 

The hill descent control system worked really well, and while I wasn't pushing any boundaries of what to expect a SUV like this to do, it was pretty well sorted of the whole.


Audi Q28/10

There is no doubt in my mind that the 2.0 TFSI was the Q2 we've been waiting for. With its balance of extra grunt and better traction, it makes for a pretty involving and entertaining drive experience. You need to option drive mode selection, with five drive modes including an individual set-up, if you want to tailor the car to your desires. Adaptive dampers are available at a cost, too.

There's good response when you shove your right foot to the floor, with just a hint of turbo lag if you catch the car off-guard. Flick the shifter to the sport mode and that won't be an issue, and indeed the Q2 will eagerly hold on to gears in anticipation.

While dual-clutch transmissions are known for their low-speed foibles, this one seems to have most of those lurching movements ironed out - though it still takes a bit of getting used to, and there isn't a very nice sound from the drivetrain in most situations. A more raucous exhaust note would be welcomed.

The so-called 'progressive' steering doesn't have the best feel to it, but it is quick and accurate, which makes it feel like you're part of the action. The ride - even in our test car, clad with optional 19-inch wheels and low-profile tyres, while going without adaptive dampers - was mostly very good, particularly considering some of the surfaces we encountered (parts of the country roads in the Barrington Tops, in north-east NSW, consist more a patchwork of pothole repairs rather than an actual level surface). That said, really sharp edges can upset the front axle a touch.

The quattro AWD system comes into its own on sweeping country back roads, though, and the short gravel stint suggested there was good grip and traction on offer.

Safety

Subaru Forester9/10

The Subaru Forester range scored the maximum five-star ANCAP crash test safety rating in 2019. The criteria has gotten tougher since then, but no mid-size SUV has been put against it to date.

That said, the Forester has an extensive safety technology specification list, starting with auto emergency braking (AEB) that works both in city and inter-urban settings up to 80km/h, and it features pedestrian and cyclist detection, too.

There's also lane departure warning with an active lane keeping assistance system that works from 60km/h to 145km/h, and there's adaptive cruise control that works through the brand's stereo camera EyeSight system. Blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert are standard, as is a rear AEB system to stop you bumping into cars or walls at low speeds, rear parking sensors, a reversing camera that is complemented by a front and front kerbside camera (not quite surround view, but close).

The Forester has seven airbags (driver's knee, dual front, front side, full-length curtain), and there are dual ISOFIX outboard child-seat anchors and three top-tether points.


Audi Q28/10

The Audi Q2 range has been awarded the maximum five-star ANCAP score, and comes fitted with a decent array of safety gear as standard. The goodies list comprises a reversing camera, parking sensors, auto emergency braking with pedestrian detection (up to 65km/h), blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert.

There is an optional ($990) 'Assistance Pack' available across the range, which adds adaptive cruise control with high-speed AEB (up to 200km/h), lane keeping assist, Audi's traffic jam assist (which can accelerate, brake and steer at speeds up to 65km/h), semi-automated parking, automated high-beam lights and a system known as 'Emergency Assist', which can pull the car off the road if the driver is non-compliant with impulses sent to them (beeps, vibrations etc).

A head-up display is now optional on all variants, too, but at $1050, you'd just get the Technik Pack and make the speedo as big as it can be, right?

Ownership

Subaru Forester7/10

Subaru Australia backs its cars with a five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty, which is on par with its main rivals but behind the likes of Mitsubishi (10 years if you service with them) and Kia (seven years).

The brand offers just 12 months of roadside assistance when you buy a new car, where some others offer seven years or more.

The company also has unusual service intervals of 12 months/12,500km, with a capped price servicing plan that spans five years/62,500km. The average cost per service over that period is high, at $476.50 per annum - and it'll be even higher if you do a lot of kilometres.

There are also three-year and five-year service plans available. If you sign up for those, you get three years roadside assist plus a loan car when you get your car serviced. The costs for those are $1281.81 (three years/37,500km), or $2382.52 (five years/62,500km).


Audi Q28/10

Audi offers a three-year/unlimited km warranty on all of its new models, and servicing is due every 12 months/15,000km. Roadside assist is included for the length of the warranty period.

The brand has a pre-purchase service pack, which covers the first 36 months/45,000km of maintenance, which costs $1590.