Subaru's new Forester makes driving an SUV in a concrete jungle more than pleasant
Subaru's new Forester makes: No equal for its price The Subaru Forester rides firmly, with none of the waterbed motion often associated with hardcore sport utility vehicles. ST PHOTOS: CHONG JUN LIANG

Parts deemed crucial to operating a car just a couple of decades ago are disappearing.

The clutch pedal is now absent in more than 90 per cent of new cars here. The physical key - the one with teeth - has gone the way of the dodo. The handbrake lever has been replaced by an electrical device in 50 per cent of new models, if not more.

And it appears the accelerator and brake pedal may be the next components to become redundant.

The new Subaru Forester with EyeSight gives a glimpse of that foreseeable future. EyeSight is Subaru's drive-assist system, using cameras and radar to allow the driver to do nothing but steer.

In downtown traffic, it is quite possible to complete your journey just by steering. Subaru's EyeSight, unlike most other similar systems, is suitably quick in filling gaps between vehicles - just like any good Singaporean driver.

Braking action is smooth and the system shows some signs of being predictive, enabling you to change lanes or even overtake without resorting to using any pedal.

But it would be a shame to drive the new Forester this way. The model has long stood apart from other full-fledged sport utility vehicles (SUVs), but the latest iteration is quite a gem.

Its new platform shines, allowing the car to show off an even higher level of rigidity, coherence and grace uncommon for its genre and size.

At 1,730mm tall, the Forester is taller than most SUVs in its segment. Yet, you would not sense this behind the wheel. The car corners with nearly as much aplomb as a grounded hatch.

At the helm, you get excellent visibility from the wide windscreen, angle of the A-pillars and useful front three-quarter windows. This takes the guesswork out of manoeuvres, such as merging from side lanes and negotiating sharp bends, and adds to its driveability, along with its peachy engine.

The power plant may be a non-turbo 2-litre putting out less than 160hp, but it is so linear and well-balanced that it might just pass off as a bigger, more powerful unit.

It is mated to a continuously variable transmission (CVT). While lacking in emotion like most CVTs, it is far less irritating - partly because the engine is sufficiently punchy at low revs.

Should even the slightest CVT whine get to you, you can drive the Forester like a manual - via large steering-mounted paddle shifters.

The Forester rides firmly, with none of the waterbed motion often associated with hardcore SUVs.

Yet, this is a bona fide all-wheel-drive, equipped with drive-mode selection and X-mode, which helps optimise off-road endeavours.

As a family vehicle, the car offers plenty of utility, with ample space for passengers and cargo. Second-row seatbacks can be folded flat to free up more than 1,700 litres of stowage.

Likewise, the cockpit offers many of the latest features - including an infotainment system with navigation and rear cross-traffic alert.

The new car is more modernlooking than its predecessor, but is still unlikely to win any design awards.

For something so packed with features and newfangled technology, the Forester has no equal in its price range. And it is really quite competent, even if you choose to operate it all by yourself.