The Subaru Forester is one of those cars that is somehow similar to many others yet very different at the same time.

The latest generation Forester was launched quietly and now includes a Sport model in the line-up as well. As in many cases nowadays, the Sport does not indicate mechanical changes but brings a raft of cosmetic and spec changes and additions to the party.

The Forester is interesting in the fact that although it has all the benefits of an SUV in body shape, space and comfort it is not quite as high as many similar vehicles. This is particularly noticeable when shorter people or kids want to enter or depart and the ease with which they can do so. In many ways, I see the Forester as an old-fashioned station wagon with a 560L boot area to boast.

Typically of Subaru, the Forester is powered by a flat 4 boxer engine of 2.5L delivering 136kW and 239Nm to all 4 wheels through Subaru's version of  a CVT automatic transmission that they have dubbed Lineartronic. The transmission is always smooth in action and you do have paddles for manual operation if you are in a playful mood.

Also present is the Subaru Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive system that apportions power to all wheels as detected. This endows the car with excellent safety and road-holding especially in wet conditions. It also provides some ability for off-roading.

The Sport model adds a number of red accents both inside and outside the cabin. This seems to be a current trend among most manufacturers currently, although I question if this will age well?

Additional spec in the Sport includes upgraded headlights with intelligent function, electric adjustment on drivers and passengers seats, a sunroof (not panoramic) and large touchscreen with full connectivity. Safety is well taken care of with Subaru's "EYESIGHT" suite that includes active cruise control, active braking, lane keep assist and blind spot warning among many other features. The feature that advises you when the car in front of you pulls off at a traffic light always impresses me.

Another different feature is the upper screen in the center fascia that shows information like fuel consumption plus can be set for various additional camera views for parking etc.

Fuel consumption for the test period was 8.8l/100km overall.

As tested the Forester Sport is currently priced at R599 000 including a 3 year/ 75 000km maintenance plan.

Alan Rosenmeyer: MotorMatters: