Steering Column 12.09.08

Forester Green

SUBARU’S third generation of the sport utility vehicle, the Forester, is getting the company’s unique new boxer diesel engine.

The latest version of the car is more of a chunky off-roader looking thing than the past versions which were just big, boxy estate cars with a bit of ground clearance. But despite appearing bigger, the new engine makes it much greener.

Subaru says this new diesel engine that we’ve already seen in the Legacy and Outback will give the Forester an official combined fuel-economy figure of 44.8mpg and will pump out 167g/km of carbon dioxide which makes it eligible for car tax of £170 a year.

Despite this, the car will pass through the 60mph mark in ten seconds and go on up to a 115.5 mph top speed. It’ll tow a braked trailer up to two-tonnes in weight and the company tells us that on the road it’s refined, responsive and an agile handling motorcar.

Although it looks a bigger car than the outgoing model, we’re told the new Forester has less than half an inch more ground clearance so whether it’ll actually be much use in the mud remains to be seen. But we’ll find out very soon. I’ll be trying it out in Ireland later this month and I’ll be bringing you a full report.

In the meantime, if you want to get your order in early, prices start at £20,295 for a Forester 2.0D X. The most popular is expected to be the XC at £22,495, and the top of the range XSn will sell for £25,495.

Ka becomes a Car

We’re seeing more detail about Ford’s latest version of its iconic little supermini, the Ka. While I’ll admit it looks likely to be better engined, better sprung and better equipped, the jury’s still out on its looks.

I remember when the first Ka was launched and the chirpy little thing was turning heads on the waterfront in the posher corners of Sardinia. This latest version sports the so-called “kinetic design” theme that started with the new Mondeo. It’s probably a tougher, edgier looking car, but it’s no longer anything close to what you might call “iconic”. Basically, it’s just another wee serious looking hatchback that’ll hold its own with the likes of the Mazda2 and the Peugeot 207.

It’s been built on the same production line as the Fiat 500 but it’s nowhere near as individualistic.

You will soon be able to buy it with either a 1.2-litre petrol or a 1.3-litre diesel engine, the first oil-burner to be available in a Ka and one capable of an official fuel economy figure of 67.2mpg.

The car will be available in four grades of equipment and finish and we’ll be hearing about the prices nearer the production date which will be either late this year or early next.

Retro Citro

Okay, I know it’s a frippery but Citroen has brought out a special edition of its C3 Pluriel that pushes all my buttons with little more than a paint job. Known as the “Charleston” it’s been painted up in black and maroon to make it look just like the old 2CV which this year celebrates its 60th anniversary.

Based on the upper-end versions of the Pluriel, it’s not going to be the cheapest version of the C3 but unlike most Citroens, it’ll turn heads everywhere it goes. Again, prices will be revealed nearer the on-sale date early next year.

Mike Grundon


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