There are some vehicles that seem so unhappy in this modern world. Whenever customers keep asking for more, they seem to ignore the true potential of the cars that they are driving, missing the whole sense of their purchases. In 2019, it seems that substance is underrated… but as the saying goes, the devil is in the details and if you pick a daily driver, gold is so well hidden underneath the skin.
Be honest, if you had a penny each time you encountered a Subaru Forester and XV on the road, you would be rich and happy. Surprisingly enough, these cars are a good example of how top-cass engineering may be sometimes be well concealed (but valued) by a practical design.
True, it’s hard to get emotional in front of any normal daily driver, but if you want to sing a song to workhorses, here you go: the new Subaru XV and Forester could be the kind of car that will last you a million miles and keep going, moving you in a way that no supercar will ever do.
Driven first through Riga and then in the dense Latvian forest, these daily heroes went through a hard beating without any protests. In this (relatively) remote corner of Northern Europe, getting lost in the middle of nowhere can occur, even during a press event: just lose sight your group of cars for a little and you’ll find your walkie-talkie emitting a radio-disturbed signal and no real possibility to turn your car to come back. It’s in these conditions that these cars show their flexibility and turn from commuters to adventure-bred vehicles.
Between sand, mud and dust, they became a formidable off roaders, able to tackle even the most difficult terrain. From the Sporta Komplekss’ 333 testing grounds in Sila Priedes, around 50 km east from Riga and to the long and fast dirt roads outside Jurmala, for us this pan-european presentation of the new Forester and XV resembled more like a proper Escape than a corporate event.
The new 2.0 litre boxer engine fitted in both the XV and Forester with an additional electric power unit offers a very linear and flexible driving experience in both city traffic and extreme off roading. Without any fiddly modes (with the sole exception of the Forester offering 2 variants for different terrains), both cars are effortless and effective to drive under any conditions. Surely you shall not expect Rubicon-trail rock crawling, but wheel articulation and structural rigidity here are top class. From sand to mud and tricky sections, Subaru’s system is effortless to use, perfect for the unwary drivers of today: the classic symmetrical AWD system works always perfectly with the surroundings and even tougher bits of off road driving always result as easy and fun.
Supercars now are so easy people always joke by saying that “I would give this to my wife and grandma”, and you can say the same thing here for these new Subarus: they’re so easy to use off-road that you can give them to anybody to drive though any forest: just lightly touch the throttle and the system works easily and efficiently giving a great sense of confidence.
Flaws? Well they’re not stylish cars but the new Lagoon Blue Pearl colour is great to look at… especially when you get lost into a forest! The highly debated lineartronic transmission may be the car’s Achille’s heel, but it terms of city-driving smoothness and off-roading ability it’s very effective. Yes, sportiness it’s not its forte… but for all the rest there is always the excellent BRZ.
With little off-road experience, we almost felt like Camel Trophy superheroes, putting both the XV and Forester though any conditions and coming out of them brilliantly. What’s more, Latvia seemed such a great place to be: pine trees forests, large and deserted dirt roads and that Baltic breeze that smells just like adventure.
In the end, despite not competing in rallies anymore and with the STi long gone, Subaru still proves to be on top of the game in producing dynamically perfect vehicles fit for all of daily life’s challenges.