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Moscow show: Subaru’s new Forester ‘STI’

Russian pride: Subaru Russia’s TS Forester flaunts its STI influence inside and out, but Australia is sticking with the equally powerful but more subtle S-Edition.

STI-focused TS Forester hits Russia as Subaru Oz sticks with S-Ed, readies next gen

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Subaru logo30 Aug 2012

SUBARU has unveiled a high-performance turbocharged ‘TS’ edition of its Forester compact SUV at the Moscow motor show, drawing from the unique Australian S-Edition but placing an unashamedly strong emphasis on its STI credentials.

Subaru Australia national corporate affairs manager David Rowley told GoAuto that a performance model was a key part of the Forester model mix in this market, but there are no plans to bring the TS here, either in the current generation or the fully redesigned series that will go on sale in Australia in the first quarter of 2013.

“There are always very interesting plans for STI, but nothing I can talk about presently – and if you’re thinking Forester, you’re probably looking in the wrong direction at the moment,” he said.

“I’d never say never – they are always looking at interesting ideas – but no, certainly nothing straight out of the box for the next-gen Forester.

“STI has applications in all sorts of Subarus. You wouldn’t rule out anything. But at the moment the focus is certainly on the more sporty cars.”

A turbocharged BRZ coupe is likely to be the next major move with the Japanese car-maker’s ‘Subaru Tecnica International’ brand, outside the current Impreza-based WRX/STI stable.

However, overseas reports indicate that Russia is being used as an international proving ground for a broader range of STI-branded models beyond Impreza, starting with Forester.

Mr Rowley said the powertrain line-up for the next-generation Forester line-up was still to be confirmed, but that a turbocharged XT version – which forms the basis of the higher-output Aussie S-Edition – was a sure bet.

“If you look at XT and S-Edition, the reality is we wouldn’t keep bringing them in if they didn’t have an audience,” he said.

Marking the first time a TS Forester with heavy STI branding has been sold outside Japan, the model unveiled in Moscow this week is described by Subaru as a concept but also one that “represents the first production model line TS in Russia”.

Subaru Russia said a team of STI engineers “carefully redesigned” the Forester to give it “truly sporting handling”.

In a statement, the company said the idea behind the TS program was to create a driving-focused vehicle that was “inherent in all products STI, regardless of the size of the car”.

“Regardless of the original model, STI engineers always strive to create a car that is easy to operate at any speed and on any road surface,” it said.

Subaru also claims to have drawn from its experience at the Nurburgring 24 Hours endurance race, and that “our ability to operate quickly and safely at the Nurburgring” fed directly into the TS development program.

Specific details are thin on the ground, but like the S-Edition it has unique suspension tuning – including STI springs and shockers – and a variation of Subaru’s 2.5-litre turbocharged four-cylinder boxer petrol engine.

As per the Australian S-Edition, which at its release in February last year marked Subaru’s first export foray with the model (and remains exclusive to this market), the high-output engine is tuned to deliver 193kW at 6000rpm and 347Nm from 2800-4800rpm.

Driving through a standard five-speed automatic transmission and permanent four-wheel-drive system (with torque split 45/55), the TS is also expected to mirror S-Edition performance benchmarks, including 0-100km/h acceleration of 6.5 seconds and a maximum speed of 228km/h.

STI branding appears throughout the TS cabin in areas such as the engine start/stop button, thick-rimmed and leather-trimmed three-spoke sports steering wheel (with paddle shifters), the console gear selector, and on the leather/Alcantara seats.

The WR ‘world rally’ blue exterior paint and gold alloy wheels are straight from the STI styling manual, while the Forester also picks up STI-branded dual rear exhaust outlets, unique grille treatment, various decals and tinted windows, among other highlights.

The S-Edition is priced from $50,990 (plus on-road costs) in Australia, which is a $3500 premium over the 169kW/320Nm 2.5-litre turbocharged XT auto.

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