Subaru Forester VS Peugeot 3008
- Interesting looks
- Excellent safety
- Good space and practicality
- Not interesting to drive
- Doesn't live up to 'Sport' name
- Bit pricey to own
- Stylish looks
- Genuinely cool interior
- Solid road manners
- Too expensive to be truly mainstream
- AEB only on upper trim levels
- Some fit and finish question marks in the cabin
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.
|Engine Type||2.5L turbo|
|Fuel Type||Regular Unleaded Petrol|
If Peugeot is ever to become more than an also-ran in our ridiculously competitive new car market, it'll be a car like the all-new 3008 that will get it there.
It's a mid-size SUV, for one, firing it into one of our most popular segments. It's also well-equipped, easy on the eye, and packing the engine choices and technology most Australian buyers are looking for.
Oh, it's also carrying a swag-bag of major international awards, including the 2017 European Car of The Year title.
But will any of that be enough to convince Australian buyers to take a punt on what is still a relative unknown in the country?
|Engine Type||1.6L turbo|
|Fuel Type||Premium Unleaded Petrol|
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.
If Peugeot is to become a force on Australian roads, this is its chance. A perfect storm of the right product, the right time and a commitment to putting more of them on our driveways means the French brand is finally in the box seat.
Also, check out Tim Robson's thoughts on the 3008 from its international launch.
Does the new 3008 put Peugeot into your mid-size SUV short list? Tell us what you think in the comments below.
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.
It's seriously good looking, the 3008, and the pictures don't really do it justice. For ours, it is immediately duking it out for the title of best-looking model in its class, despite the front end being less resolved than the rear.
A puffy-looking front end, courtesy of the recessed headlights, surround a huge Peugeot grille. The belt line then climbs low to high as it travels toward the rear of the car, where it meets the three-stripe (they're meant to looks like a claw swipe) rear lights.
But if the front is busy, the back is all squared-off coolness, thanks to a Range Rover Evoque-style rear windscreen and (on the right trim) twin trapezoid exhausts tips.
Inside, a futuristic dash set-up is headlined by the 'i-Cockpit', which centres on a customisable digital screen, accompanied by a second, 8.0-inch multimedia screen in the centre of the dash.
Other special mentions inside go to the textured, layered dash design that makes the driver and front passenger feel like they're sitting in their own cockpit, and to the piano key-style controls in the dash that take care of everything from the air-conditioning to the hazard lights, and make an appearance in everything from the cheapest model up.
Oh, and the steering wheel, which is a strange new shape that kind of makes it both flat-bottomed and flat-topped. Sounds odd, sure, but it works.
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.
Up front, you'll find two cupholders, as well as a shallow bin under the dash that doubles as an induction charging pad. Plus, there's a storage bin between the front seats that is ridiculously deep. A USB charge point and a 12-volt power outlet complete the front-seat offering.
The backseat is a firm pew, but for ours, that just means you'll get more wear out of it. There's a surprising amount of space for rear passengers, too, with headroom (at least, in the sunroof-free cars) ample, and tons of space between my knees and the seat in front when sitting behind my (180cm) driving position.
One weird quirk, though, is the rear air vents (applause) protrude so much into the rear seat (retract that applause) that middle seat riders are going to have to spread their legs into each window seat to sit anything even approaching comfortably. It's weird.
Better off ditching the middle rider and deploying the fold-down armrest, which will unlock two more cup holders. There are seat back pockets, too, as well as two ISOFIX attachment points, and rear seaters get vents, and a 12-volt power source.
Luggage room is a healthy 591 litres with the rear seats in place, and 1670 litres with them folded flat - though you can also make use of the wonderfully European ski opening to carry longer stuff.
Price and features
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.
The 3008 arrives in four flavours; the cheapest Active, the mid-spec Allure and GT Line, and the top-of-the-tree GT trim.
The range kicks off with the $36,990 Active (Peugeot has opted not to import the Access trim, which forms the bargain-basement entry point in international markets), and outside, your spend will earn you 17-inch alloy wheels, roof rails, LED daytime running lights, as well as automatic headlights and wipers.
In the cabin, you'll find Peugeot's very cool i-Cockpit - a 12.3-inch digital display in the driver's binnacle, like Audi's Virtual Cockpit - as well as an 8.0-inch touchscreen that's Apple Car Play and Android Auto-equipped, navigation, induction charging for your phone and dual-zone climate control.
Step up to the $39,490 Allure and you'll add keyless entry and push-button start, privacy glass for the rear windows and a cool fabric dash insert. You'll also nab 18-inch alloys and LED 'puddle lights' that illuminate the ground underneath the driver and passenger doors.
The $43,490 GT Line adds LED headlights and fog lights and some cool-looking exterior design elements like stainless steel scuff plates and twin exhaust tips, plus you get a different 18-inch wheel design.
Finally, the $49,490 GT gets 19-inch alloy wheels, swaps the cloth seats for an Alcantara set-up (including an insert in the dash), as well as a heating and massage function for the front seats.
Engine & trans
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).
There are just the two engines on offer; a petrol unit available in the Active, Allure and GT Line cars, and a diesel that's offered up in the top-spec GT.
The petrol option is a turbocharged 1.6-litre unit producing 121kW at 6000rpm and 240Nm at 1400rpm. It pairs exclusively with a six-speed automatic and sends its power to the front wheels. Expect a 9.9sec 0-100km/h time, and a flying top speed of 201km/h.
The diesel drinker is a 2.0-litre unit good for 122kW at 3750rpm and 400Nm at 2000rpm. It pairs with the same six-speed auto, and it, too, sends its power to the front wheels. It's slighter sprightlier, though, and good for a 8.9sec 0-100km/h sprint, and it will push on to 207km/h.
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.
Peugeot claims the petrol option sips 7.0L/100km on the combined economy cycle, while the diesel needs just 4.8 litres to go the same distance. Emissions are 156g/km in the petrol, and 124g/km in the diesel.
All 3008s arrive with a 53-litre fuel tank.
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.
How do I put this delicately? Um, the 3008 doesn't drive like something traditionally French. There's very little quirkiness about the way it goes about its business, nor does it feel like you're compromising something (ride, comfort, your own sanity) for something else (performance, dynamics, a decent seating position).
The petrol and diesel engines are quiet enough, and while both offer not-life-changing acceleration, the diesel engine is definitely the choice for perkier response, with the added torque lending the Peugeot a little extra oomph from standstill.
Truly poor roads will send noise whistling through the cabin, but otherwise it's a comfortable, largely quiet place to while away the hours. Most impressive, though, is the ride; which (albeit after a brief, frankly boring taste test) proved something verging on brilliant. It absorbs most imperfections and banishes them before they appear, with only serious road issues sending a crash into the cabin.
The downsides? The 3008 is home to a Sport button that actually detracts from the drive experience, adding a weight to the steering that makes it a little trickier to feel your way through corners. Add to that column-mounted paddles that seem to vanish when there's any lock on the wheel, and you're much better off cruising rather than trying to push the 3008 into sporty behaviour.
So, we'll reserve judgement until we spend some more time behind the wheel, but it felt impressively sorted on our brief test route.
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.
The glaring omission here is the lack of AEB on the cheaper models (something Peugeot's new, and only weeks old, Australian importer concedes it might have rectified if they had more time and involvement with the planning of this model). Its a shame, though, because there's plenty of other cool stuff that you'll find as standard.
Expect six airbags (front, front-side and curtain), along with the usual suite of traction and braking aids. A nice touch across all trim levels is the standard speed-limit-recognition system, which will read the speed signs as you pass them and beam that information onto the digital screen in the driver's binnacle. Distance alert (which warns if you you're too close to the car in front), lane departure warning and a fatigue warning are all standard, too.
AEB arrives on the GT Line and GT grades, along with active lane keeping, adaptive cruise with complete stop, active blind spot detection and auto high beams.
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).