Long term tests

Subaru Forester 2.5 XT

What fun. An Impreza on stilts. I can remember thinking the same thing when I drove our previous Forester turbo long-termer, the mk1 version, six years ago (yes, it really is that long ago). The fun of the original is still there alright. It's all just been refined.

What fun. An Impreza on stilts. I can remember thinking the same thing when I drove our previous Forester turbo long-termer, the mk1 version, six years ago (yes, it really is that long ago). The fun of the original is still there alright. It's all just been refined.

I was delighted when regular keeper Barker threw me the keys to the Forester. From firing up the flat-four to experiencing the unmistakable and beautifully weighted Scooby 'signature' steering feel, the 2.5XT entertains on every journey. It still takes a while to get into a rhythm with it, as your brain gets into sync with the turbo surge. But a couple of days in and I was starting to get the country lanes sorted.

'Less is more' is a good way to think about steering inputs. The smoothest turn of the wheel produces the most satisfying results when stringing together a series of bends, and eventually it feels quite natural to steer it on the throttle; the extra axle height just adds to the fun of it all.

There is, inevitably, a price to pay if you enjoy the turbo motor's full performance. I was thinking about trying to beat JB's personal best of 300 miles on a tank - for about five minutes. I decided against because: a) I had the car for just a couple of weeks, and b) you really only live once.

The other good thing about driving a wolf in sheep's clothing is the confusion it spreads among BMW drivers as you pass them from a roundabout start. It'll soon be as quick in the corners, too, thanks to a set of 17in rims and lower-profile tyres currently on order (an off-the-shelf option from Subaru dealers).

Eventually JB's supply of exotica dried up and I had to hand the Forester back, reluctantly. It's still the smart, fun choice for the evo family man.

Running Costs

Date acquiredMay 2004
Total mileage5672
Costs this month£0
Mileage this month1599
MPG this month24.5mpg
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