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First look: Forester breaks official cover

Rounder: Third-generation Forester loses the current model's square shape.

Subaru pulls a Christmas surprise by revealing its all-new Forester compact SUV

28 Dec 2007

FIRST pictures of it were leaked via a Japanese magazine three weeks ago and now Subaru's third-generation Forester has officially broken cover in Japan.

Due on sale here in March 2008, the redesigned version of Subaru’s popular compact SUV is said to be wider, taller and offer greater cabin space.

As can be seen by the range of exterior and interior photos, however, the new Forester also takes a leaf out of Subaru's new Impreza styling book by being even more mainstream in terms of its design.

2 center imageA long-time best-seller for Subaru in Australia, where it accounts for about a third of the brand's total sales and where more than 90,000 examples have been sold since 1997, the Forester nameplate still consistently attracts more than 1000 customers a month - making it a formidable rival for compact SUV models like Toyota's RAV4, Nissan's X-Trail and Honda's CR-V.

Again based on the Impreza small-car platform, the Forester makes its public debut at January’s Detroit motor show and is expected to come with a slightly higher pricetag than the current model, which opens at $31,990.

The new Forester presents a family resemblance to Subaru's facelifted Tribeca medium SUV courtesy of a slotted grille, and its all-new sheetmetal dispenses with the current model's squarer edges to introduce a more rounded overall bodyshell, much like the new Impreza hatch did in October. The headlights also appear to have been inspired by the new Impreza, while the wheel-arches are more heavily flared.

No technical details have been provided and Subaru Australia won't confirm details of its local range unil closer to March. However, it's obvious from the official images that a turbocharged version, complete with bonnet scoop, will remain the Forester performance leader, and should continue with the XT moniker here.

As it did with the new Impreza, Subaru is expected to offer carryover naturally-aspirated 2.5-litre four-cylinder boxer engines for the rest of the Forester range, with similar changes to likely to deliver similar power (121kW) and torque (226Nm) figures as the current model, but at lower revs.

The company could also pull a surprise by introducing its first ever diesel engine - a world-first 2.0-litre flat-four design - in the new Forester in March. Subaru's first diesel engine, it delivers 110kW and 320Nm and is mated to a five-speed manual transmission.

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