As readers of Shooting Gazette will know there is a specific list of requirements for a vehicle which is going to be used for a shooting trip; let’s face it we are not talking about the school run and a trip to the supermarket now. Therefore we thought it was best to test the all-wheel drive Subaru Forester’s suitability for the job on a 750 mile round trip from south Lincolnshire to stunning Perthshire, for a sporting day’s partridge shooting.
Don’t forget the dog!
First things first. For a two night shooting trip there is a lot of kit to consider. Coats, boots, guns, enough cartridges to cover all eventualities, overnight bags and jackets for dinner are par for the course. Multiply all that by two and the kit mountain starts to climb.
The boot has ample space for your shooting kit and, of course, the labrador.
Then there’s the dog, and labradors take up more space than you think. But there is plenty of room in the boot and the rear seating area of the Subaru Forester, so thankfully there was no head scratching and re-packing required. In fact we could have got another couple of labradors and a pair or Purdeys in if we had really wanted.
Travelling north in style
The A1 follows the old stage coach route up the east of the country and, although the market towns with their coaching inns have been by-passed these days, there is something inescapably romantic about heading north for a shooting trip on this well-travelled sporting road. The further north you go the stronger the echoes of our sporting forefathers chime.
But romance alone won’t transport you 350 miles. You need a bit of power too. And power you get with the top of the range turbocharged Subaru Forester 2.0i XT Lineartronic (which has a list price of just over £30,000). The diesel versions are obviously more fuel efficient, but they don’t have quite the same impressive pick-up as this petrol powerhouse. The miles steamed by on the lowland motorways, as the two sporting gents in the front reminisced about bygone shooting adventures.
The Subaru Forester fits in perfectly on shoot day.
And speaking of the front, the top of the range models sport leather heated seats, satnav and a vast sunroof, which all make for very comfortable travelling indeed. Dual climate control ensures marital disagreements over cabin temperature will be neatly side-stepped. And, as ever, it’s the little things which really make the difference. For instance two ample cup holders with adjustable grips will hold whichever size of coffee takes your fancy; an essential for those long road trips.
In short, this is an extremely comfortable vehicle in which to cover hundreds of motorway miles, with the tantalising thoughts of the shooting ahead to keep you going.
Of course you may not always be heading all the way to Scotland, or you may fancy a scenic detour on route. Either way if you find yourself on the minor moorland roads of northern England, or the narrow country lanes typical of shooting parts anywhere in the UK, then you are in for a treat.
Not only does the Subaru Forester devour the motorway miles in maximum comfort, it also quite fancies itself on the winding and dipping tarmac of the rural road network. It has the power to skip past a dawdling sightseer or a trundling tractor, and the road handling to deal with all those unexpected tight turns, hump backs and the inevitable sheep.
The Subaru Forester is more than comfortable at the front of the convoy on shoot day.
And if you are on the moors, the way the grouse have been breeding and surviving in this part of the world in recent years means you are bound to see a few of them. And it’s hard to think of a better vehicle to view them from, because the Subaru Forester offers exceptional all round viewing, from sizeable windows with very few obstructions from wherever you are seated.
After a long a journey there is nothing better than cruising up the welcoming drive of an ivy clad sporting hotel, such as the Kinloch House Hotel between Dunkeld and Blairgowrie in extraordinarily pretty Perthshire. After seven hours of comfortable driving the luxurious ease of this family run hotel is the perfect match for the comfort of the Subaru. And pulling up at the grand front door is an appropriate end to stage one of any shooting break.
After 350 miles of enjoyable road travelling we were extremely keen to put the Subaru Forester through its paces off-road on the shoot day. And the stunning scenery of the Bandirran shoot provided the appropriate variety of conditions to test the vehicle to the full.
Superb shoot day service
Impressive ground clearance means there are no issues with all those inevitable ruts and bumps which are features of access roads on shoots the length and breadth of the UK. And the mixture of metalled roads, grass fields, muddy banks and very steep drops and climbs gave us every chance to enjoy everything this vehicle can do. The hill descent function comes in particularly handy when negotiating steep hills in convoy. This is a situation where any loss of control can be embarrassing, expensive and downright dangerous.
With its admirable off-road capability you won’t struggle to find a scenic picnic spot.
After the inevitable Scottish rain paid a visit, all the above-mentioned road surfaces acquired an extra degree of greasiness, perfect for properly testing the Subaru X Mode function, which adds extra control on the most difficult of surfaces. This function gives the driver even more confidence and, suffice to say, there was not a moment of doubt in these most testing of conditions.
A shooting all-rounder
The Subaru Forester will whisk you, your shooting kit, and your dog along any motorway in maximum comfort. It will negotiate winding country lanes, mountain hairpins and urban crawling with equal ease. And then, when you really need it, on the shoot day it will transport you and a few others over the trickiest of road conditions without breaking sweat. And on top of all that it looks the part too, fitting in seamlessly on shoot day.
Find out more at www.subaru.co.uk
PLUS – win a luxury festive hamper worth over £400 courtesy of The Rhug Estate farm shop
A wonderful selection from the famous Rhug Organic Farm, including award-winning Aberdeen angus beef, salt marsh Welsh lamb and chicken, plus cheese, wine and champagne. Specially chosen by Lord Newborough from his stunning farm shop on the Rhug Estate in North Wales, the hamper, with a Rhug Organic Dee Valley Bronze Turkey, will be perfect for your Christmas feast.To enter, simply visit www.subaru.co.uk/SG2013
All entries must be received by November 30, 2013.
Promoter: Subaru (UK) Ltd, IM House, Coleshill, B46 1DF.
Please see the website for full terms and conditions.