They are farmers and were keen to get a closer look at it, having owned several 4x4s over the years. As soon as they saw it they were impressed, particularly with its car-like interior coupled with 'real' 4x4 abilities.
I can understand why the Forester is so popular with the farming fraternity – its high ride gives clear vision in narrow country lanes and there is good ground clearance, permanent four-wheel drive, a decent sized boot (which has excellent access without an annoying lip found on so many estate cars) and all-round versatility.
However, the beauty of the Forester is that it isn't just for die-hard rural types. It is as at home in the town and on motorways as country lanes with a respectable fuel consumption which has remained at around 30mpg throughout its stay at Fleet News.
CO2 emissions of 204g/km aren't too alarming either and the Forester is easy to handle and isn't a problem to park, even in the tightest multi-storey parking spaces. Although the performance from the 2.0-litre unit is perfectly adequate, delivering 0-60mph in just over 10 seconds, I imagine the turbo version would make a world of difference.
Although the Forester has been described by some colleagues as utilitarian, it is not a view I share. The interior is far plusher than the old Forester and materials are of a higher standard. It boasts plenty of space with several handy storage bins and netted areas to stow away maps and books. The seats are comfortable even on long journeys with the added bonus of fold-away arm rests. I was also impressed with the enormous sunroof, which stretches through to the rear seats, and the useful hill-holder clutch. Having been warned, I only experienced trouble with the over-zealous immobiliser, which activates after 30-seconds, once setting the alarm off by accident.
I would be happy to drive a Forester as a company car, particularly if my job involved a fair proportion of countryside driving. It would be worth its weight in gold during the winter months.