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Used car focus: Subaru Forester – 1997-02

The Forester shows many of its rivals the way forward when it comes to combining on and off-road ability and agility. Its estate car looks are more conventional than a Land Rover Freelander and Toyota RAV-4, but it runs them both close and returns creditable fuel economy.

It’s a top choice for buyers looking for occasional off-road capability and solid reliability.

There’s only one trim level (GLS until 2000; no trim badging after this date). All cars have a rear self-levelling system, headlamp washers, load area cover, electric mirrors, four-speaker stereo and roof rails. Leather is an option on the S-Turbo model. 2.0 Sport was introduced in November 2001 and has S-Turbo style trim and grille, alloy wheels, front fog lamps.


With a lower centre of gravity than most 4x4s, it can take sharp bends with ease and there’s less roll than other off-roaders. Although ground clearance is limited, the permanent four-wheel-drive system and high/low ratio gearbox mean off roading is no problem. All cars are five-speed manual; four-speed auto with ‘winter’ mode manual override is optional.


There’s plenty of room inside and it is well trimmed for its age. with supportive, adjustable seats and a large load capacity. A decent boot and split fold rear seats for practicality, plus there are lots of extra compartments and even a washing up bowl on top of the spare wheel.


The 2.0 ‘Boxer’ engine is a version of the one used in the Impreza and comes in two states of tune. Standard models have 121bhp; it takes just over 11 seconds to get to 60mph.The S-turbo version offers a near Impreza Turbo 0-60mph in 7.9 seconds and a top speed of 123mph.


No Euro NCAP rating, but features includes driver and passenger airbags, plus ABS brakes. No alarm is fitted.

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