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Future models - Subaru - Forester

New York show: Subaru uncovers new-gen Forester

Run, Forest, Run: Subaru Australia’s Forester dropped 7.0 per cent in last year’s sales charts to finish 2017 with 12,474 units, but the new-generation version due this year is set to boost volume.

Subaru slashes Forester range for fifth gen launch in late 2018

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Subaru logo29 Mar 2018

SUBARU Australia will lose three engines from its Forester line-up when the new petrol-only fifth-generation SUV – unveiled overnight at the New York motor show – arrives in local showrooms later this year.

Gone are the 2.0-litre engines, which were available in petrol, diesel and turbocharged petrol forms, replaced by a modified version of the brand’s naturally aspirated 2.5-litre flat four petrol engine.

The move will spell the end of variants like the 2.0D and could shrink the Forester range from the current number of seven variants to three or four.

Subaru Australia’s managing director Colin Christie confirmed the drivetrain cut back during the new Forester’s reveal in New York.

“There will be no diesel, and this point in time there’s no turbo version,” he told Australian journalists at the New York show. “The whole range will be the 2.5-litre direct injection engine.” Mr Christie also confirmed the up-spec XT and XT Premium grades – which pushed the price of the Forester up to $48,240 – will disappear, replaced instead by a line-up that is likely to mirror the brand’s Impreza and XV models.

“We still haven't had the negotiations with Japan yet on the pricing, but it certainly won't be at the level of where the XTs are,” he said.

“If you look at Impreza and XV, we did the exact same thing (with the line-up), albeit we didn't have the turbo version of that. And they've gone from strength to strength with a nice, simple message.”

A new 2.4-litre turbocharged engine developed by Subaru is fitted to the US-only Ascent seven-seat SUV, but Mr Christie confirmed that there were no plans to use it in the Forester at present.

“We are always talking to the factory about what we can use, but at this stage there are no plans to use it,” he said.

However, Mr Christie said that a hybrid powertrain for the Forester, as well as the XV, is on the way.

“We don’t know what form that will take, but we do know those models will offer a hybrid drivetrain in the next couple of years,” he said, although Mr Christie was unable to confirm whether it would be a plug-in hybrid, or which combustion engine would feature.

Built on the company’s latest billion-dollar Subaru Global Platform that also underpins the current Impreza and the XV, the new Forester is 15mm longer, 20mm wider and 5mm taller than the current version.

The fifth-generation Forester also gains an increase of 30mm in the wheelbase.

The Forester has sold almost 240,000 units locally since its debut in 2007, and the latest version brings all of Subaru’s safety elements to the fore, including its EyeSight safety system, all-wheel drivetrain and the stronger, stiffer platform that is set to sit underneath all Subarus coming down the pipe.

The US version offers 136kW and 239Nm from the overhauled 2.5-litre engine, which features 90 per cent new parts. However, as with the Impreza and XV, the manual gearbox option has been deleted.

Mr Christie said that this does not present a problem for the Australian office as “less than two per cent of sales – in the sector and in our range – last year were manuals”.

A new safety technology known as Driver Monitoring System will debut in the Forester that works with EyeSight to monitor a driver’s actions and reactions – for example, turning around to face the rear seat, or taking their eyes off the road – and warn them accordingly.

As well, the system – which works via an infrared sensor on the centre console upper cowling – will be able to recognise up to five different drivers, and change vehicle parameters like air conditioning and seat positioning for each.

Mr Christie believes this will be the first mass-market deployment of such a system in Australia.

Rear cross-traffic emergency braking will also be added to the updated Eyesight safety suite, which will brake the car if it detects rear traffic impeding its path. Eyesight is said to be standard across the range.

In terms of design, the new Forester, while visually similar to the fourth-generation car, offers new tweaks like wider rear door openings and inside gains an 8.0-inch touchscreen with Apple Carplay and Android Auto, as well as an entirely new design throughout.

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