Open the door to the Subaru Forester’s cabin and you’d be forgiven for thinking you’d opened the door to the late 1990s. The swathes of dark plastic and iffy seat fabric patterns are a far cry from the sophisticated, modern-looking cabins of some rivals.
The dashboard is lifted straight from the Impreza, which means a fairly uninspiring design, and hard – though durable-feeling – plastics. That said, the interior of the Forester is effective in a workmanlike way. The seat fabric feels hard wearing, there’s acres of space (especially rear legroom), and the front seats are extremely comfortable and supportive without being in any way ostentatious. The interior quality is some way from the European mainstream, let alone some of the premium cars the Forester is priced against.
In another nod towards yesteryear, there’s no clever electronics to operate the low-range gearbox, just a large lever next to the hand brake.
Opt for a version with sat-nav and you’re treated to a vast protrusion on top of the dash in which sits a rather old-school nav system. It does break up the monotony of the dash, though.
There are also neat, thoughtful touches such as the way the rear seat backs drop down as soon as you pull the release catch. This is a particularly useful touch if you need to drop the rear seats in the middle of manoeuvring a large object into the boot. It’s a small touch, but indicative of a generally simple, intelligently designed interior.