IT’S reassuring to see that despite the addition of a host of gizmos and a dramatic restyling to keep it competitive with the increasing number of city-slicker crossovers, Subaru’s Forester remains a good old country boy at heart.

Legions of farmers and their like have relied on the Forester to get them from yard to forest to field along muddy tracks and worse.

And alongside a range of enhancements, Subaru’s best-seller retains its primary focus.

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What makes it better – and more appealing to those who might only occasionally wander off-road ¬– is the greater safety and convenience features.

Remaining firmly in place are the symmetrical all-wheel drive and the ‘Boxer’ flat-four engines that are a lasting hallmark of the brand.

The upgraded Forester offers better handling and improved refinement, generous interior space and cargo capacity, a commanding driving position and ease of entry and exit.

High ground clearance, the all-wheel drive system and all-terrain capabilities distinguish the Forester from its competitors.

The Forester has been given a more modern and robust appearance, with updates to its front grille, bumper and headlamps, as well as the rear lamps and alloy wheels.

The interior design is also more refined, with new features that include rear-seat heating and a heated steering wheel.

An exceptionally safe vehicle, it also has new headlamp technology to further improve forward visibility and safety.

Updated suspension at the front and rear ensures the car gives a comfortable ride, particularly over broken or choppy surfaces.

There’s thicker door glass, too, along with more sound-absorbent seals, and additional soundproofing material throughout the cabin.

The range of engines remains unchanged, with buyers able to choose from three 2.0-litre horizontally-opposed four-cylinder engines – a 150PS naturally-aspirated petrol engine and a 147PS turbo-diesel unit, as well as a direct injection turbocharged petrol that produces a punchy 241PS.

A six-speed manual transmission – available on 2.0i and 2.0D models – or an upgraded version of Subaru’s Lineartronic CVT automatic are offered, the latter available as an option on 2.0i and 2.0D models and standard with the 241PS petrol engine.

I tried out the diesel unit matched with Lineartronic CVT transmission – a perfect match and surely the best-seller.

Diesels with the Lineartronic transmission return 46.3 mpg and 158 g/km CO2 on the combined cycle, and go from zero to 62 mph in 9.9 seconds. With the standard six-speed manual, they return 49.6 mpg and 148 g/km CO2 on the combined cycle, and accelerate from zero to 62 mph in 9.9 seconds.

On the road, the ride is composed, the cabin is hushed and at your fingertips is all your heart might desire.

The driver’s instrument binnacle has a new, higher-resolution colour LCD display and an enhanced infotainment, navigation and audio system is fitted as standard. The system also houses a standard-fit rear view camera.

Practicality is core to the Forester’s success.The high hip point and relatively low instrument panel give driver and passengers a commanding view of the road ahead, while ensuring it remains easy to get in and out.

As well as a large cabin, the Forester’s cargo capacity is also generous, with 505 litres of boot space with the seats up, rising to 1,592 litres with the seats fully folded.

The Forester has always been a popular choice for dog owners, and the capacity and shape of the boot – and a range of dealer-fit accessories, such as tailgate sunshades, dog guards and removable boot lining – make it all the more accommodating for family pets.

Touches like these make the Forester a compelling buy for families and farmers alike.