Vince Pornelos / Kelvin Christian Go | March 13, 2017 14:52
The Grown-Up's WRX
There comes a point in time when a person's priorities change. Sometimes it's about moving up the corporate ladder and being more respectable. Sometimes it's about assuming more responsibilities in business in order to grow. Sometimes it's about starting and nurturing families.
Whichever the case, there's a point in time when one can no longer (at least temporarily) dream about owning a circuit-honed sports car, a grand prix-derived superbike, or a rally-bred sports saloon. And that's where the Forester XT comes in.
The Forester XT stands out amongst the crop of compact 5-seat crossovers in that Subaru did not intend it to conform to the standard rules of the game and this Black Edition even more so... even though it came in white.
Subarus were never really pretty cars, but there's always a sense of purposed functionality with them, and the Forester is the proof of that. The shape and silhouette is are of the conventional 2-box (as expected of most crossovers or SUVs) but the look is chiseled rather than molded, giving the Forester an aura of strength.
There are no extraneous details for the sake of adding details, but this being a special version, it comes with some additional goodies like a wraparound skirt from STI; yes, Subaru Technica International. It looks cool and looks natural for the Forester; such is what can be expected of OEM kits.
Inside of course it's all Forester XT, meaning you get the best of what Subaru has in the parts and trim bins. I like how high grade the Forester's cabin feels, particularly the leather, the solid quality of the materials, and how it doesn't look all too plasticky. Seat comfort is great, the switches feel great, and the steering feels great, and it even comes paired with a very nice STI-badged shift knob for this Black Edition.
Being the XT, nearly all the boxes of options were ticked when Subaru Philippines (Motor Image) specced the car. Things like power seats, the integrated 2-DIN audio system, climate control, cruise control, and so much more. I particularly liked the massive panoramic sunroof; turning this crossover into a veritable convertible... it just has 3 more seats.
But the key to the Forester XT is its heart: a turbocharged and intercooled 2.0-liter with four horizontally-opposed cylinders. Like Porsche, Subaru isn't about to depart from their affinity for flat or boxer engines as it gives them the ability to put the engine low to the ground (for better handling balance) and allows them to achieve something very few carmakers can: full symmetry for the all-wheel drive powertrain.
As a daily driver, the Forester XT really is one of the best. It's not extremely comfortable by any means, but it feels just right when you take it out for a drive even on our low quality tarmac and ribbed concrete. Maneuverability around town is a cinch, and parking is really easy given the massive windows and the back up camera. Where the Forester XT really had an acceptable loss was in the fuel economy department; 4.9 km/l in city driving (15 km/h average) isn't all too impressive, but we didn't expect much to begin with from a turbocharged 2.0-liter with 240 horsepower.
Where the Forester truly excels, and sets itself as a cut above and beyond the competition, is in the performance department. The Forester XT Black Edition simply has gobs of grip, enabling surefooted control in tricky conditions like a sudden downpour on the expressway or when you suddenly encounter a dump truck that spilled sand all over the road, all while you're at speed. Both of those both incidents I can speak of from personal experience aboard a Subaru, and I came out unscathed every time.
More than that kind of overall performance safety, being symmetrical (and having all that power and torque) affords Subaru an inherent balance with the car, all delivering better handling and better confidence when driven hard. The power and torque from the powerplant, the acceleration afforded by the variable ratios of the CVT, and the grip of the AWD system makes for a crossover that can outpace even tuned compacts on a mountain roads. And that's not even with Sport Sharp (#) engaged to further sharpen the response of the powertrain to the driver's inputs.
Overall, the Forester XT is still as solid performer, and that's what we wanted; a crossover that can do it all, but still keep the boy racer in you well and truly alive. The Black Edition is an optional add-on to the “base” XT to give it some flair; it does this through some STI goodies, including an STI front tower bar, and pushes the price up to PhP 2,083,000.