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28 May 2021

An opportunity to get a Subaru Forester wheel-deep in snow was too good a temptation to resist.

Words Kate Preece Photography Charlie Jackson

You can cover this car with snow, she said. It won’t get stuck, she said. We’ll see.

As it happened, we were looking for a cool white backdrop to show off some hot fashion, so it seemed like just the journey to experience what the 2019 Subaru Forester had to offer.

Before going anywhere, I was given an extensive rundown on how to get the most out of this Premium model, and it was just as well. It prevented me calling my air traffic controller friend for guidance. Though, once you’ve used the facial scanner to set up your seat preference and settled on the radio to dominate the eight-inch touch screen, you can mostly ignore the myriad of buttons – unless you want to turn off some of the many features.

Piling the fashion shoot crew and their regalia into the car wasn’t hard. No one called shotgun either, as the back seat, with its own recline feature, was just as comfy. With one seat folded forward, the snow board and skis had oodles of roof – though the hard-core snow bunnies would have made use of the roof racks. We plotted our way to the slopes on the Tom Tom navigation module and didn’t stop until hunger caught up on us (about Springfield).

With Adaptive Cruise Control, it was easy to set the speed and retire the lead foot. The ‘adaptive’ bit means you won’t rear-end any Sunday drivers you come across, as the Forester uses the cameras that make up the EyeSight system to detect vehicles ahead of you. The car automatically matched that of the pace car, keeping the distance between the two consistent – a car-length measurement adjusted via buttons on the steering wheel.

There’s much to be said about what this car can do by itself. It will keep you in a lane, shine the headlights in the direction you steer, tell you off if you’re not watching the road, monitor your tyre pressure and even do the braking for you – in a couple of ways. One is called Auto Vehicle Hold, and even the manual drivers will envy you this one, as it’s ideal for hills, traffic jams and for when you have simply had enough of extending your braking leg. Activated by pressing slightly more firmly on the brake pedal, AVH will keep the vehicle stationary until you push the accelerator. There is also Pre-Collision Braking to automatically stop you crashing into the unexpected (if you don’t notice first) – be the danger in front of you or behind (Reverse Automatic Braking). It’ll even give you a friendly reminder to get a move on if the vehicle in front has already left its mark (Lead Vehicle Start Alert).

In fact, the only thing it won’t do is park itself. However, it provides three views through its reversing cameras and, thanks to those screens, you can see two of them at all times. For those who hate scratching up their mags, there’s a view just for you that will keeps the curb in sight. Another button enables you to switch between views easily, so really, you’re covered.

So, it almost drives itself and when it isn’t doing the work for you, has all the tools you need to engage your own brain and drive yourself, but what about that snow?

The snow gods had been kind and sent down a special delivery of the white stuff. It was easy driving, but there were pristine patches that begged to be ripped up if only we knew what lay beneath them. But there was one slightly more daring way to leave the car park at Porters Lodge and now was the time to do it. Over the edge we went, like an elephant tiptoeing down the stairs.

Our ascent stopped. The wheels spun. The vehicle did little more than rock. But this was a car that doesn’t get stuck.

Foot down, snow and mud flicking out in all directions, X-Mode in ‘Deep Snow and Mud’, it was only a matter of time before a bit of forward and back turned into a satisfying crawl forward and back onto firmer ground. Target met, it would seem. And now, a doughnut in that untouched clearing to celebrate…

Subaru Forester 2.5 Premium AWD, from $47,490


The ease and speed to put the car into the two X-Mode settings – snow/dirt or deep snow/muds.

The electric sunroof for perfect in-car makeup application and mountain views.

Its 220mm ground clearance.


The ‘call-in-progress’ message obscuring the digital speed display.

Having to remember to look ahead to be scanned for the car to identify and activate your profile.

The sound of the car when revving high.


Driver Monitoring System will recognise up to five set driver profiles using facial recognition. This will adjust interior settings, including seat positions, door mirror angles and air conditioning preferences.


Plug in to use Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. Standard Bluetooth handsfree calling.

Vehicle size: length 4625mm; width 1815mm; height 1730mm

Safety Rating: 5 stars ANCAP

Fuel tank capacity: 63 litres

Fuel consumption: 4.5 stars out of 6 (Right Car); 7.4l/100km

Engine: 2498cc

Transmission: Horizontally-opposed Boxer 4-cylinder, petrol engine

Important numbers: 136kW, 239Nm

0-100 km/h: 9.5 sec

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