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Car reviews - Subaru - Forester - S-Edition 5-dr wagon


Subaru toughens up its Forester with WRX poke and rally-inspired looks

6 May 2011

THERE is no other automotive manufacturer quite like Subaru, especially in the Australian context where, since the late 1990s, every new Subie sold has been all-wheel drive and all, of course, uses the firm’s trademark ‘boxer’ (horizontally opposed) engines.

Combine this with the great success of high-performance sedans and wagons, especially Impreza WRX variants and it is easy to see how an enviable reputation has been built.

In 1997 Subaru introduced the original Forester which used the same platform as the Impreza. A year later came the Forester GT, powered by a slightly re-calibrated edition of the turbocharged WRX engine.

Now this concept has been taken further with the addition of the S-Edition as the flag-waving Forester. The somewhat clumsily named S-Edition uses a more powerful version of the famous 2.5-litre turbocharged flat four, offering maximum power of 193kW backed by 347Nm of torque – up from 169kW and 320Nm in the Forester XT (in which the ‘T’ stands for turbo).

The S-Edition is considerably more extroverted, particularly in the test car’s ‘WR Blue’ livery. Seventeen-inch alloys branded ‘STI’, no less, make this quite a standout vehicle, with one of our testers being followed almost to his home by a curious Subaru enthusiast.

Stiffer suspension settings, revised gearing for the automatic transmission, which is now equipped with paddleshifts, an upgrade to the interior and some other minor features suggest the premium of just $3500 over the XT Premium automatic will be well spent, especially by those who nurture memories of Subaru’s glory days in the World Rally Championship.

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Model release date: 1 February 2011 to 1 January 2013

Previous model

Forester GT

Released: July 1998
Ended: July 2002
Family Tree: Forester

THERE is no immediate predecessor for the S-Edition. This is an additional variant best thought of as the 2011 equivalent to the 1998 Forester GT, which combined the WRX engine (re-calibrated to give more mid-range torque at the sacrifice of a little power) and overtly sporty badging.

The GT was discontinued in July 2002 and was eventually replaced by the XT (a blander piece of nomenclature) in August 2003. In December 2008 the WRX engine was equipped with an STi turbocharger to lift power from 169 to 195kW and torque from 320 to 343Nm, but this combination did not make its way into the Forester until the launch of the S-Edition.

The XT persisted with the 169kW engine and is still part of the model line-up. Like the original GT, this latest variant advertises its sporting credentials. And the smart 17-inch STi alloys make a significant visual contribution.

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