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First look: Subaru’s vital new Forester emerges

New blood: The 2013 Subaru Forester will take on the new Honda CR-V and the forthcoming Toyota RAV4 when it arrives in Asutralia early next year.

Fourth-generation Subaru Forester revealed ahead of early 2013 Australian debut

1 Nov 2012

THE fourth-generation Subaru Forester compact SUV has been officially revealed ahead of its world premiere in Japan on November 13 and Australian launch in the first quarter of next year.

The fully redesigned model features evolutionary styling changes and will be larger and more high-tech than before, with better cabin refinement and fuel economy.

The Forester has been Subaru Australia’s all-time best-seller since the first version launched in 1997, and between 2008 and 2011 it was the nation’s most popular compact SUV.

However, the ageing current model this year lags behind the Toyota RAV4, Nissan X-Trail and Mazda CX-5.

Subaru’s new SUV fighter will go up against a host of new metal in the segment when it arrives next year, with a new Honda CR-V due this month and a new RAV4 also in the wings for next year.

The company is keeping hush on full details, but brochure information that leaked in September indicates the fourth iteration will be the largest yet, and borrow much of its mechanicals and cabin technology from the current Impreza small car (and its XV spin-off).

Likely to be based on a modified all-wheel-drive Impreza platform, the new Forester will have more boot capacity (505 litres, up from 450 previously) and will be around 35mm longer, 15mm taller and 20mm wider than before.

Entry versions will feature the same 126kW/235Nm 2.5-litre boxer naturally aspirated engine as the current model, while the 187kW 2.0-litre turbo-petrol engine that will power the US market's XT flagship is almost certain to come to Australia as well.

Expect both a six-speed manual gearbox and an automatic continuously variable transmission (CVT) to feature in place of the outdated five- and four-speed units.

A turbo-diesel option is also a safe bet to join the range at a later date – this time available with an automatic transmission.

Certain Forester variants will be equipped with ‘Version 2.0’ of the company’s EyeSight safety technology, incorporating adaptive cruise control, automatic pre-collision braking, lane departure warning and vehicle sway warning among others.

The family influence extends to the evolutionary exterior design, including its cleaner grille and sleeker headlights, and likely the interior, which is expected to feature more soft-touch surfaces.

The cabin in the leaked images (first found on Carscoop) included a large integrated navigation system, racy drilled metal pedals and the high-mounted information display, chunky round dials and three-spoke steering wheel of both the Impreza and XV.

Subaru Australia managing director Nick Senior said the new version will be “the most significant we will have launched since the original back in 1997”.

“There is more change – substantial technical change – and innovation, than ever before,” he said. “But above all, new Forester is an SUV that won’t be confined to the suburbs.”“It’s a vehicle that could have been designed specifically for the Australian lifestyle – it’s all-road, all-conditions, all-seasons and this new one will go further than any previous Forester.”

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