Ended up buying a new 2014 Forester XT: Part 1

Last weekend I took delivery of a Marine Blue 2014 Forester XT.

This is a picture of it taken down at Condom Creek today. Condom Creek, otherwise known as Piesse Brook and that is what the signs there call it, is about five kilometres ENE of Kalamunda.


Regular readers will know that I have been circling around this eventual outcome since the new Gen4 Forester was released in Australia back in late February. I have read everything written by anyone that appeared in the first three pages of numerous Google searches that I have done in the months since the new Gen4 Forester was first announced back in August last year.

I seriously doubt if there is anyone who has read as much about the Gen4 Forester as I have.

One of the biggest decisions was whether to get the 2.5 litre naturally aspirated version or the more expensive 2.0 litre twin-scroll turbo-boosted direct-injected version. At this point in my life, and with the cost of petrol likely to continue its upward trend towards $2.00 a litre by June next year (according to the experts), I was really after better economy. This directed me towards the 2.5 litre version as this is about 10 percent more fuel efficient than the 2.0 litre direct-injected ‘sports’ version of the Forester.

But, as the title of this post tells you, in the end I went for the $7,000 more expensive 2.0 litre ‘sports’ version, but not because of the ‘sports’ factor. The two top reasons I ended up going for the 2.0 litre direct-injected version were: (a) it has the tighter and firmer ‘sports’ tuned suspension that provides, to my likings anyway, much better road feel; and (b) it has the additional S and S# modes available in the CVT transmission.

Tighter ‘sports’ suspension

The two XT models, which are the models with the turbo-boosted direct-injected 2.0 litre engine, have different suspension tuning to the 2.5 litre units. If you can get to test drive both models in the same day then, if you are aware of these kinds of things, the suspension and ride differences will be very obvious. It is a firmer less soft suspension.

My test drives of the different cars were a week apart and it was still very obvious to me that these cars are very different on the road.

There will be some folk who actually prefer the softer and less direct suspension of the non-XT models. But I much preferred the more responsive firmer feedback of the XT suspension tuning.

The number one reason I never upgraded to a Gen3 Forester and kept my Gen2 Forester for so long was the extremely soft ‘rolly polly’ suspension in the Gen3 model. I was not the only one who did not like the Gen3 rolly-polly suspension. Many of the Subaru forums complain at it and many of them provide information on how to fix the Gen3 suspension. But I am not the kind to start replacing suspension components.

So, if like me you prefer some road feel and tighter suspension, then you should be looking at the two Gen4 XT options. There is the basic XT (which is what I went for) and, for another $8,500 the fully tricked Premium XT,

S and S# modes

In the non-XT models of the 2014 Forester the only CVT transmission mode you can get is what Subaru call ‘Intelligent’ mode, or “I” mode.

IMGP1873-SmallBoth of the XT models provide you with two additional modes: ‘Sport’ or “S” mode and ‘Enhanced sport’ or “S#”. Where the # is used as shorthand for enhanced (as I guess ‘Enhanced’ would have been too long to write on the steering wheel).

In ‘I’ mode the CVT functions like you would expect a CVT to function with no actual gear settings. So as you accelerate the car picks up speed and the gear ratios just slide up and down the CVT range seamlessly without any ‘shifts’.

In “S” mode there are six gears. Five shifts up to drive and then one over-drive shift. And acceleration or de-acceleration will cause the transmission to shift up or down using these six pre-set gear ratios.

In “S#” or enhanced sport mode there are eight gears. Six gears up to drive and then two over-drive ratios.

There is more to S and S# mode than just the pre-set gear ratios but I will cover this additional transmission magic in another post.