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Subaru debuts facelifted Forester in Japan

New styling, more safety and a more refined ride for updated Subaru Forester

15 Jun 2021

THE first images of Subaru’s facelifted fifth-generation Forester have surfaced in its native Japan showing the mid-sized RAV4 rival’s “bolder” new front end, which is complimented by a recalibrated suspension tune and upgraded EyeSight safety suite, but no extra shove.


Unveiled overnight, the Forester’s updated face appears far more bulbous than before owing to the subtly reshaped grille and drastically redesigned headlights that look to have been cut in half.


Helping bridge the gap between the lights and grille is a similar set of LED daytime running lights to the current model.


The front bumper has also been tweaked, with a new lower cladding design as well as redesigned foglight bezels.


In Subaru’s words, the new front end combines with the redesigned alloy wheels to make the Forester look “more powerful” and “SUV-like”.


Under the new skin, most of the Forester’s mechanicals have remained untouched except for the suspension, which has reportedly been made suppler yet sportier, although exact details are still thin on the ground.


“In terms of driving performance, the suspension has been improved for all grades,” Subaru said in a statement. 


“We have achieved both suppleness and sportiness at a high level.”


What exactly this means for Australia remains unclear as all local variants – hybrids included – share the same suspension tune, though it is expected the changes will translate to a generally more polished ride.


In addition to the new looks and refined suspension, the new Forester is also promising an enhanced level of safety thanks to what Subaru is calling its ‘New Generation EyeSight’ system.


In essence, the field of view of the stereo camera has been widened so the system can ‘see’ and monitor more of driving environment. 


This increased field of view is paired with updated system software, which should make it faster to react.


Back in Japan, all variants of the updated Forester will also be made available with the ‘e-Boxer’ hybrid system except for the JDM-spec Sport that features the brand’s new 130kW/300Nm turbocharged 1.8-litre flat-four ‘lean burn’ engine.


Subaru Australia largely declined to comment on the new Forester, saying it was too early to share any information at this stage but confirmed “some news” would be shared in “coming weeks”.


In the meantime, it is unlikely we will see the torquey turbo donk here any time soon as a local spokesperson told GoAuto the factory “currently doesn’t make this engine available to our market”.


However, they reiterated that the local arm was “constantly talking to the factory in Japan about future options”.


As reported by GoAuto in February, Subaru Australia general manager Blair Read revealed the existence of a product in the pipeline away from the established performance halos – WRX, STI and BRZ – that would “reinvigorate” fans’ passion for the brand, especially in the performance SUV segment.


“We absolutely love the passion that exists for the brand and I think maybe we’ll circle back in about six to nine months,” he said at the time.


Six to nine months from February points to an August, September, October or November announcement or launch for whatever is in the pipeline, neatly aligning with the local introduction of the new-generation WRX and BRZ performance cars as well as the facelifted Forester.


If a warmed or high-performance Forester doesn’t materialise, it will most likely mean Australian buyers will have to stick with the established 2.5-litre petrol and 2.0-litre hybrid powertrains.


Subaru Australia has sold 6313 Foresters so far this year ending May, accounting for a respectable 9.3 per cent of the sub-$60,000 medium SUV segment.

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