Hybrid e-Boxer: the Subaru Forester SUV that saves trees
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Subaru Forester e-Boxer hybrid
- Quality of Forester base package
- Worthwhile economy gain over standard model
- Good off-road performance
- Drop in performance over conventional Forester
- Not much electric-only driving ability
- Annoying driver monitoring system
Ten years ago, the world was a very different place. Corona was still just a beer and the only car you’d associate “hybrid” with was a Toyota Prius.
Fast forward to this decade: almost every manufacturer now offers some sort of hybrid or electric vehicle and questioning the longevity of fossil fuels is a common discussion.
Subaru has taken its time with petrol-electric technology, choosing not to release a hybrid version of the iconic boxer engine until it could make it with the “full Subaru DNA.” That new hybrid powertrain powers "e-Boxer" versions of the XV and the car on test here: the Forester.
Read more: Our verdict on the Subaru XV e-Boxer hybrid
In standard form, the 2020 Forester is offered with a 2.5-litre naturally aspirated engine that makes 136kW/239Nm.
Thanks to the countless awards that this car has won locally and internationally, there’s no doubting the quality of the package. Subaru claims that the combined fuel economy of this SUV is 7.4l/100km.
Moving over to the Forester hybrid, the first thing to note is the smaller 2.0-litre engine that benefits from Subaru’s “Motor Assist” petrol-electric system.
This makes for a confusing comparison, considering that this electrified engine is significantly smaller than the petrol-only version, and naturally, makes less power with 110kW and 196Nm. The electric motor adds 12kW and 66Nm of its own.
Like almost all hybrids, efficiency is the bottom line. Subaru claims that a Combined figure of 6.7l/100km is possible, making for a nine per cent gain over the petrol-only variant and 19 per cent in urban driving. But what does this mean in the real-world?
When commuting with the Forester e-Boxer, there’s no question about it being a hybrid, with the electric motor picking up the slack in heavy traffic, and when coasting around 60km/h.
Staying exclusively electric takes a heap of concentration, as the slightest over-acceleration will kick the engine into life. Without watching the centre console graphic, you’d struggle to tell when the e-Boxer switches between power sources, with its seamless transitions.
After a week of commuting and a significant road trip, we landed right on Subaru’s claimed combined figure of 6.7l/100km. It’s also worth noting that the Forester was often on petrol power alone during motorway driving, making it impressive that the claimed figure was reached.
The Forester e-Boxer is just as geared up for the rough stuff as its petrol-powered sibling. Like all Subaru models, all-wheel drive is standard, and X-Mode with hill descent control is also thrown in.
On the inside, things are very driver friendly, with an array of driving and entertainment controls located on the steering wheel. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto comes standard in both the Sport and Premium trims, with a larger 8-inch touchscreen used in the latter.
Subaru’s full EyeSight safety suite comes standard on both the e-Boxer Forester Sport and Forester Premium models. This includes lane keep assist, adaptive cruise control, autonomous emergency braking, and a couple of driver alert systems. While the driver monitoring system serves an important purpose, getting scolded by a persistent beep every time your eyes dart off the road becomes tiring.
The Forester e-Boxer hybrid sits in a very busy mid-sized SUV segment, with some big names. It starts at $47,490 for the regular hybrid, moving up to $54,990 for the Premium package.
Similarly priced is the Toyota RAV4, but with the top-spec Adventure model not being offered with a hybrid powertrain, electrified off-roading is less of an option.
Just like the e-Boxer XV, this hybrid Forester comes at a $5000 premium over the regular petrol-powered model. In this case, Subaru started strongly with the award-winning Forester 2.5, but whether it's better than the regular 2.5 petrol ultimately comes down to buyer preference.
Commuting and day-tripping is where this hybrid shines, but if you’re looking for something to cart the family around in for long hauls, the 2.5 is still a solid choice.
SUBARU FORESTER PREMIUM E-BOXER HYBRID
ENGINE: 2.0-litre boxer petrol four with Motor Assist hybrid system
POWER: 110kW/196Nm (petrol engine), 12.3kW/66Nm (electric motor)
GEARBOX: Lineartronic continuously variable