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Subaru Forester


Peugeot 5008

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

Peugeot 5008

Previously on carsguide.com.au: Peter Anderson drove the Peugeot 5008 and quite liked it. 

I don't think it's going to be a huge shock to learn that the recent update to the 5008 seven-seater has improved the car and, therefore, my opinion of the car. 

Except, it's more than an update. Prices are much higher than when I drove the Crossway edition 5008 in 2019 (remember those happy times?) and the difference between the petrol and diesel engines is especially wide now in 2021.

The updated 5008 shares a great deal with its 3008 sibling and the two share a very important attribute - they are distinctively French, in a good way.

Safety rating
Engine Type1.6L
Fuel TypePremium Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency7L/100km
Seating7 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.


Peugeot 50087.3/10

The answer is, I think, two-fold - price and badge. Peugeot Australia has a job on its hands to turn things around as 2020 was a tough year and 2021 is shaping up to be almost as hard. There aren't any significant changes to the 5008 to make it suddenly stand out from the crowd because it already did. So the badge's cachet isn't matching the premium pricing.

Peugeot's SUVs are very popular in Europe but barely make a dent here. Because there isn't a bait-and-switch cheaper model to lure buyers off the street, it's a harder sell. Peugeot's glory days of the late 1990s and the late 1970s before mean the people who have fond memories of the badge are older and probably don't have any attachment at all to the French lion. Perhaps the re-energised 2008 will start that conversation, except it's not cheap either.

Having said all that, it's hard to see why folks with over fifty grand to spend on a seven-seater - and there are plenty of those - aren't paying more attention to the 5008. It's a striking presence, is practical but isn't overbearingly large or even slightly clumsy. It may not have AWD but hardly anyone ever uses that. It'll handle the city and the motorway and, as I discovered, biblical rain all in its stride. Like its 3008 sibling, it's a mystery there aren't more out there.

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.


Peugeot 50088/10

The 5008 was always the slightly awkward big brother to the 3008. That's not to say it was (or is) ugly, but the bigger box fitted to the back is far less racy than the 3008's fast back. 

There's not much change at that end, so the cool claw lights carry the can for style. 

In profile, again, it's a little awkward (compared to the 3008) but some nice work with various materials and shapes help to reduce its bulk.

The front is where the facelift action has happened. I was never completely convinced by the front end of the 5008 but the reworking of the lights to look less like they were squeezed out of a tube of toothpaste is a marked improvement. 

The updated lights work beautifully with the new frameless grille. The fang-style daytime running lights, that debuted on the gorgeous 508, look fantastic here on the 5008. It's a superb job.

Inside is largely unchanged, which is to say it's still brilliant. It's really one of the more inventive interiors in any car, anywhere and is a joy to sit in. 

The seats look brilliant, even more so in the diesel with their fine stitching and racy shapes. The wacky 'i-Cockpit' driving position works much better in more upright cars like SUVs and is present and correct while the new 10.0-inch screen also looks good. 

Even if you're not interested in buying one of these, if you're passing a Peugeot showroom, get in and have a look, feel the materials and wonder why more interiors aren't this cool.

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.


Peugeot 50088/10

Legroom is good in the middle row, with plenty of knee space as well as a that long flat roof stopping you from giving yourself a haircut. 

Each of the front seats has a fold down airline-style tray table, which kids go absolutely wild for.

The third row is really an occasional use only proposition, but it does the job and is reasonably easy to access. The middle row also slides forward (60/40 split) to allow a bit more space for the third row, which is nice.

The 5008 has a trick up its sleeve - removable third-row seats. If you fold the middle row down and remove the back row, you have a massive 2150 litres (VDA) of cargo volume

If you just fold the third row away you still have a formidable 2042 litres. Whip the back row out again but leave the centre row in place and you have a 1060-litre boot, reattach them and it's a still impressive 952 litres. So, it's a massive boot.

The 5008 is rated to tow 1350kg (petrol) or 1800kg (diesel) with a braked trailer, or 600kg (petrol) and 750kg (diesel) without brakes.

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.


Peugeot 50087/10

Peugeot's local arm is pitching the 5008 at an interesting point. While nowhere near the largest of seven-seaters, it is also not the cheapest, that honour going to Peugeot's former technical partner for SUVs, Mitsubishi

There is now just one specification level (although it isn't really), the GT and you can have it in petrol form for (deep breath) $51,990, or diesel form (keep drawing that long breath) $59,990. That's a lot of cash.

But as I say, the spec is not the same between the two. And there is a lot of stuff.

The petrol GT opens with 18-inch wheels, a 12.3-inch digital dashboard (upgraded, apparently), a new 10.0-inch touchscreen (ditto), front and rear parking sensors, around-view cameras, leather and Alcantara seats, keyless entry and start, auto parking, adaptive cruise control, powered tailgate, rear window blinds, auto LED headlights, auto wipers and a space-saver spare.

The more expensive diesel picks up the diesel engine (obviously), a banging Focal-branded 10-speaker stereo, acoustic laminated front side windows and 19-inch alloys. 

The diesel GT's front seats are also upgraded, with extra adjustability, a massage function, heating, memory function and electrical operation of just about everything on them.

Both versions have the new 10.0-inch multimedia touchscreen. The older screen was slow and really needed a good stab to work, which is a bit of a problem when so many functions are packed into the system. 

The new one is better, but still a touch laggy. Weirdly, the climate control shortcuts permanently frame the screen, so the extra real estate goes on those controls.

The diesel GT's seats are available as an option on the petrol as part of a $3590 option pack. The pack also adds the Nappa leather, which itself is a separate option for $2590 on that upper-spec model. Neither pack is cheap (but the Nappa leather is lovely) and the massage seats are more than a novelty.

Other option costs are $1990 for a sunroof and $2590 for Nappa leather (diesel only).

Just one paint colour, 'Sunset Copper', is free. The rest are extra. For $690 you can choose 'Celebes Blue', 'Nera Black', 'Artense Grey', or 'Platinum Grey.' 'Ultimate Red' and 'Pearl White' cost $1050.

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).


Peugeot 50087/10

As the names of the cars suggest, there is a petrol and diesel engine. Both drive the front wheels only through automatic transmissions.

The petrol is a 1.6-litre four-cylinder turbo, with 121kW at 6000rpm and 240Nm from 1400rpm. The petrol scores a six-speed automatic and will cover the 0-100km/h run in 10.5 seconds.

For torque monsters, the diesel is the go, with 131kW at 3750rpm and 400Nm from 2000rpm. This engine scores two more gears for a total of eight and will run from 0-100km/h in 10.2 seconds. 

So neither of them are drag racers, which is to be expected when you've got a fair chunk of weight to pull (1473kg for the petrol, 1575kg for the diesel).

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.


Peugeot 50087/10

Peugeot says the combined cycle figure for the petrol is 7.0L/100km and 5.0L/100km for the diesel. The petrol figure seems sort of likely, the diesel, not so sure.

I ran the lighter 3008 for six months with the same engine (but with two fewer gears, granted) and it averaged closer to 8.0L/100km. The last time I had the 5008 I got 9.3L/100km.

As I drove these cars on the launch event (mostly highway running), the dash-indicated 7.5L/100km figure I saw is not a reliable indicator of real-world consumption. 

Both tanks hold 56 litres, so based on the official figures, you'll cover around 800km in the petrol and over 1000km in the diesel. Bank on a day-to-day range about 150km lower than that.

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.


Peugeot 50087/10

Once you're comfortable with the i-Cockpit, which features a high dashboard and a tiny, squared-off steering wheel, you'll feel like you're driving a much smaller car. 

I have theorised over the years that the light steering coupled with the small steering wheel makes it feel more dynamic than it is, but I think that's wrong - it's genuinely well set-up and is a car in which you can have some fun.

I was only able to drive the 1.6-litre petrol with six-speed auto on launch and that was on a horrifically wet day during Sydney's recent deluge. 

The M5 motorway was covered in standing water and the spray from the big rigs made driving conditions rather more difficult than usual. 

The 5008 sailed through it all (pun intended). That engine is hardly the last word in power and torque, but it does the job and the auto is well-calibrated to the numbers. 

The big Michelin tyres bite the tarmac pretty well and while you always feel the weight of a seven-seater SUV, it drives much more like a raised wagon than a doughy SUV. 

Fewer of its rivals are doughy these days, but there's a little bit of spark in the 5008, matching the promise of its looks. 

It's not quick, and it's not a hot SUV, but every time I get in this or its smaller 3008 sibling I ask myself why more people don't buy them.

It's irritating that the diesel costs so much more if you want that extra in-gear performance and another two gears.

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.


Peugeot 50087/10

The 5008 lands with six airbags, ABS, various stability, traction and braking systems, speed limit sign recognition, driver attention detection, distance warning, lane keep assist, lane departure warning, road edge detection, auto high beam, reversing camera and around-view cameras.

The diesel picks up lane positioning assist while none of them have reverse cross-traffic alert. Equally annoying is the fact that the curtain airbags don't reach to the back row.

The forward AEB includes low light cyclist and pedestrian detection between 5.0km/h and 140km/h, which is impressive. 

There are three ISOFIX and three top-tether mounts in the middle row and two top-tether restraints in the removable third row.

The 5008 scored a maximum five ANCAP stars in 2017.

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).


Peugeot 50087/10

Peugeot's five year/unlimited kilometre warranty is now pretty standard but always welcome. You also five years of roadside assist and five years/100,000km of fixed price servicing.

Interestingly, the service prices aren't much different between the petrol and diesel, with the former costing $2803 over five years ($560 per year on average) and $2841 for the latter ($568.20 per year on average). 

You have to visit your Peugeot dealer once every 12 months/20,000km, which isn't too bad. Some turbo-engined cars in this segment demand more visits or won't cover as many kilometres between services.