Subaru Forester e-Boxer, what we like and what we don't | Our proof

Subaru Forester e-Boxer, what we like and what we don't | Our proof

Subaru Forester e-Boxer

The fifth generation of the Japanese SUV Subaru Forester marked the arrival of the new e-Boxer mild-hybrid system, which combines the proven capabilities of Subaru's boxer engine with a small electric motor for support in specific situations; the endowment is very rich thanks to the 4DVENTURE set-up, practically full optional, and the space on board the Subaru Forester is certainly not lacking – let's find out how the days driving this SUV went.

What convinced us

Let's start by talking about design, as always trying not to make aesthetic judgments since the latter can be very subjective and vary drastically from person to person; however, we can start by indicating the dimensions, with the Subaru Forester e-Boxer reaching 463 cm in length, with a width of 173 cm and a highest point of the exact same measurement. The ground clearance is 22 cm, a detail which, when combined with the four-wheel drive available on all versions, makes for surprisingly good off-road performance. Despite its large size, the Subaru Forester manages to be very easy to handle even in the city, where maneuvering can become cramped, also thanks to the cameras - rear and side - and the sensors that are activated when parking.

In the tested version with 4DVENTURE set-up we point out a more robust design, a clear reference to off-road use: the car is embellished by orange details inside and out, by wheel arches designed with a more squared line and by the black front grille, which hides behind it the e-Boxer engine, the first mild-hybrid installed on the Forester.

The engine is another detail that has left us satisfied, at least as long as we are content to drive quiet, aiming for fluidity in movement and reduced consumption: in this the hybrid engine, made up of a 150 horsepower 2-litre boxer and a 16.7 horsepower electric motor integrated in the transmission, gives its best, also allowing discrete stretches covered in 100% electric mode, despite the electric motor being very small, as is the battery, of just 0.66 kWh.

It is rare for a mild-hybrid to allow sensitive movements in purely electric mode, and in this we must recognize a value of Subaru Forester e-Boxer: a great delicacy is required on the accelerator pedal, under penalty of starting the internal combustion engine, but it is possible to move up to 40 km/h starting from fer mo using only the electric motor, while in other cases at high speed - for example when going downhill - you will see the thermal engine switch off (the rev counter goes to zero) and the car will continue to sail keeping the speed practically unchanged thanks to the electric motor alone and the force of gravity.

Another very interesting aspect of the Subaru Forester e-Boxer is undoubtedly the ADAS and safety systems: Forester 2022 is equipped with all the most classic systems such as the Cruise adaptive control and the lane maintenance system, systems supported by a sort of very simple head-up display based on colored lights that reflect on the lower part of the windscreen, in correspondence with the driver, but it can also boast more advanced systems such as Eyesight , the system that keeps an eye on the driver's state of health and attention, for example making sure that the latter does not close his eyes while driving.

We wanted to put this system to the test, especially by using it simultaneously with adaptive cruise control and lane keeping: by pretending to be sleepy and taking your hands off the steering wheel, the car will very soon start making alert until the driver regains control of the vehicle.

Sitting in the driver's seat, you can certainly appreciate the good quality of the materials with which the dashboard and the passenger compartment in general have been covered, and we appreciated much the wealth of physical keys scattered literally everywhere; It's not easy to learn where all the buttons are right away, but it's still better than hiding everything behind a touchscreen. Details such as the heated seats and steering wheel, as well as the automatic dual-zone climate, make life aboard the Subaru Forester e-Boxer comfortable and relaxing. The dimensions of the electrically operated trunk are important, and the side hooks are particularly appreciated so as to be able to store small objects keeping them locked in place.

What didn't convince us

As often happens on vehicles of this type, the gearbox is one of the weakest points: the CVT performs its function well only if you stick to its range of use, without ever accelerating too abruptly. When you try to accelerate more quickly, hoping for a slightly quicker response from the automatic gearbox, instead you get an acceleration that quickly goes over-revving without changing gear until you release the accelerator by a few millimetres.

The Subaru Forester e-Boxer is equipped with 2 displays positioned centrally on the dashboard: the larger and central one is dedicated to infotainment, while the second is responsible for providing information on the functioning of the hybrid system while driving. Unfortunately, the former doesn't seem overly modern, with graphics reminiscent of those of the first smartphones, and despite pairing the phone it has always had some difficulty activating the Android Auto functions (in the wireless version, when it works). The second, in our opinion, is a bit small and is positioned too far from the driver's gaze and can become a source of distraction, especially if you are interested in driving energy-efficiently.

Driving efficiently will undoubtedly be an important aspect if you decide to buy a Forester e-Boxer, because fuel consumption is anything but exciting: even driving carefully, trying to make the most of the system integrated hybrid, we have never managed to improve consumption beyond 12 km with a liter of petrol.

How to drive

The Subaru Forester e-Boxer transmits positive sensations when you are at the drive: road holding is solid even at high speeds, despite the considerable ground clearance. It may well be an SUV with off-road ambitions, but on asphalt at highway speeds its characteristics do not suffer in the slightest. As anticipated, the response of the e-Boxer engine combined with the CVT-type automatic gearbox is not exciting, it adapts without problems to a quiet use but forget any sporting ambitions, despite the "Sport" writing on the car's instrumentation.

The battery of just 0.66 kWh charges and discharges very quickly, but when it is ready to give energy the difference is significant: once it returns to zero instead, the petrol engine activates a current generator which takes care of recharging it in a short time, so as to be able to exploit the fluidity of the electric motor again, a detail that is particularly convenient in the city at low speeds.

Is it worth it?

Difficult to say, Forester e-Boxer has left us with a mix of sensations, with ups and downs. The car is certainly spacious, carefully designed to offer the maximum in terms of roominess and comfort; in short, if you have a large family or you simply like to involve friends for long trips, all round, this solution is certainly valid. The propulsion system is also excellent which, if used carefully, can give the right satisfaction even if consumption does not seem convincing (perhaps due to the mass of the car itself, 1,600 kg, and aerodynamics that are not exactly maximum). Finally, the on-board equipment is good and in particular the ADAS situation, even if the definition of the displays is not the best.

Four trim levels are available, PREMIUM (proposed at 46,450 euros), 4DVENTURE tested for this article (offered at 44,750 euros), STYLE (offered at 41,950 euros), Free (offered at 39,950 euros); all versions offer permanent all-wheel drive and the mild hybrid engine we told you about. The main differences concern the equipment on board and some external elements. Is it worth it? On the market it is not easy to find solutions capable of tackling uneven terrain while maintaining a good level of driving comfort on the road at the same time. Subaru Forester, in our opinion, fits into a segment almost all its own and there is no real yardstick.

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