Seems strange swapping a Kia for an Aston Martin but they’ve both been on the driveway at Car Couture today. Suffice to say that returning a creditable 39mpg during the week, the Sportage is slightly more economical.
And it’s also a very good family car, if you are in the market for a roomy estate with the added benefit of four-wheel drive. We found a large boot, with easy drop backseats meant the Kia was remarkably versatile.
In the rear, there is a generous amount of leg room, which compares well to rivals like the bug-eyed Nissan Qashqai and the popular Ford Kuga.
Some of the interior trim in the Kia is less than special but this is an awful lot of car for the money. Avoid the petrol versions and go for a 2.0-litre diesel – it has all the power you will need for everyday motoring.
The best two words to sum up the Forester? Rugged and reliable. Yes, if you want chrome tailpipes and fancy stuff, go buy a Ford Kuga. You’ll regret it in the long run if you hanker for an SUV that actually does what it is meant to do.
There are times when I wish the Forester had a bit more style but I’d really rather go for substance when buying a four-wheel drive – especially one that is obviously built to withstand whatever you can throw at it.
The 2013 version is a little noisy when pushed hard under acceleration but we’re still managing 42mpg in everyday use. This is helped by the six-speed gearbox, which is surprisingly slick for a chunky estate.
OK, so it doesn’t go around a corner with the poise of a Honda CR-V but the chances are you will be carrying a large dog, or a couple of sheep in the back anyway.
And it’s all backed up by a five-year, 100,000-mile warranty too. What more could you want?
To a certain generation of bloke, the name Subaru will always be associated with the WRX rally car. The Impreza is no longer imported in to Britain, although you will still see plenty of die-hard ‘Scooby‘ fans frittering away their pay cheques to keep one on the road. No, these days, Subaru is targeting the SUV market and this fourth generation Forester is a key weapon.
Today I did my weekly shop down at Waitrose and the Subaru looked oddly out of place, parked next to row after row of ‘bling’ four-wheel drives. Personally, I love the fact I’m driving something different, which I know can tackle proper off-road work and won’t be offended if I chuck half a ton of wood in the back.
Sadly, I’m not sure the majority of British car-buyers will see it the same way. The Forester isn’t offensive to the eye but it just doesn’t have the cosmetic appeal of a Kia Sportage or a Ford Kuga. Beauty may be skin deep but that’s as far as most people look these days when they are buying a car.
The boxy design will be seen as a disadvantage, even though it allows for a huge load capacity, exceptional headroom and a bright cabin. The interior is basic but you know a Forester will still be lugging sheep up a field in 15 years time when a Kuga has been turned back into sheet metal.
Right now I’m feeling totally inconspicuous in the Forester – a rare feat in any modern SUV. And I’m loving it.