THE SUBARU Forester has always had solid and practical characteristics combined with genuine off-road ability – but it now has another trick up its sleeve.

In line with many of its rivals, the Forester has gone hybrid - and it’s all the more appealing for it.

The e-Boxer version of the Forester is a self-charging hybrid SUV, powered by a 2.0-litre four-cylinder Boxer engine, combined with a small lithium ion battery and electric motor.

Behind the wheel, the results are rather pleasing, with power now coming in at 164bhp and torque at 193lb ft.

Somerset County Gazette: Subaru Forester e-Boxer

The battery unit, mounted in the boot’s floor, allows for pure-electric driving at lower speeds around town and is useful in stop-start traffic.

The petrol engine kicks in at around the 25mph mark and, at medium speeds, the electric motor and combustion engine work together, boosting the Forester’s power and performance.

The fact that earlier torque can be generated through the hybrid set-up comes in handy in various situations, especially when towing.

A permanent all-wheel drive system gives the Forester a sure-footed feel on slippery roads, as well as the ability to go off the beaten track when the terrain dictates.

The CVT automatic gearbox works well most of the time, but can be a little on the ponderous side when the car is driven with more urgency.

It’s all underpinned by Subaru’s new Global Platform, increasing body strength by about 40 per cent while also increasing back seat legroom by 30mm when compared to the old car.

That makes for a very spacious cabin, with even six footers have plenty of space to stretch out their legs when sitting in the back.

Further practicality comes courtesy of the large boot, which offers 520 litres of capacity, which increases to 1,779 litres with the seats folded flat.

Somerset County Gazette: Subaru Forester e-Boxer pictured in Yorkshire

In terms of looks, the Forester has confident lines, with a distinctive headlight signature that combines well with the grille that’s now more upright than on previous models.

The front bumper has also been updated, adding to the car’s visual impact.

We tested the Forester in XE Premium guise and found it came with generous levels of equipment and kit.

LED lights, keyless entry, an electronic parking brake and push button start are part of the package.

Meanwhile, an eight-inch multifunction colour touchscreen is intuitive and easy to use, and comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, DAB radio and Bluetoothconnectivity.

The front seats occupants will have no problem finding a comfy seating position, with eight-way power adjustable driver and front passenger seats available.

For those cold winter days, there’s the creature comfort of heated front seats, heated rear seats and a heated steering wheel.

It may not be especially exciting to talk about safety features, but the tech on the Forester is worthy of special mention.

Facial recognition tech is used to detect if the driver’s focus has moved away from the road ahead, sounding a warning note if that has happened.

Somerset County Gazette: Subaru Forester e-Boxer

It can also detect drowsiness and recommend the driver takes a rest.

Meanwhile, EyeSight driver assist technology provides pre-collision braking, adaptive cruise control and lane departure warning.

All in all, the Forester is a compelling package that’s been made even more appealing by the changes to the current model.

Subaru Forester 2.0i XE Premium e-Boxer Lineartronic

PRICE: £40,990

ENGINE: 1995cc Horizontally-Opposed, 4-Cylinder, 4-Stroke, Petrol plus electric motor

BATTERY: Lithium Ion

Acceleration 0-60 mph 11.4 secs

POWER: 147 bhp

Fuel consumption: 34.7 mpg