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Subaru sets fire to Forester

Step up: Subaru Australia is preparing to launch a hotter version of its Forester in Sydney next month.

From mild to wild for Subaru Forester in global launch at Sydney motor show

Subaru logo14 Sep 2010

By JAMES STANFORD

A HIGH-performance Subaru Forester will make its worldwide debut at Australian International Motor Show in Sydney next month.

The new model will sit above the turbocharged XT in the range with a higher-output engine as well as a series of other upgrades including sporty styling modifications and lower suspension.

GoAuto understands the vehicle will not be tagged STI, a designation reserved for ultra high-performance models.

This latest in a long line of Subaru turbocharged all-wheel-drive vehicles dating back to the Liberty RS Turbo and including the original 2.0-litre Forester GT, will run a mildly enhanced version of the existing XT’s turbocharged 2.5-litre four-cylinder boxer engine that feeds power through a constant all-wheel-drive system.

This engine generates 169kW and 320Nm although it is capable of producing 195kW and 343Nm in Impreza WRX tune.

The sporty new model to be revealed in Sydney is understood to produce considerably more power and torque than the XT although not quite as much as the WRX.

The vehicle is not an Australian-only locally-tuned vehicle and is expected to be sold in several markets.

Subaru Australia managing director Nick Senior last week hinted that a ‘sporty SUV’ would make its debut at the Sydney show, but refused to give up any details.

“You will have to come to Sydney to find out more,” he says.

2 center imageLeft: Subaru Forester XT.

The first-generation turbocharged Forester, the 2.0-litre GT, was discontinued in mid 2002, and replaced by the 2.5-litre Forester XT a year later.

A new higher-output Forester is not expected to sell in great numbers, but would provide an image-boosting halo model for the entire range.

Not that the regular Forester is have trouble finding owners in Australia.

Subaru said the compact crossover wagon was incredibly the best selling vehicle, bar none, in Tasmania last month.

VFACTS figures show Subaru sold 1406 Foresters nationally, a number that makes it the most popular compact SUV in the country, ahead of the Toyota RAV4 with 1160.

Subaru has sold 10,126 Foresters to the end of August, giving it the number one spot in the compact SUV class year to date ahead of the RAV4 with 9197.

Mr Senior said adding a diesel powerplant option to the Forester range in June had paid off, with the oil-burner now accounting for 29 per cent of sales.

As GoAuto reported last week, more than 28 per cent of Outbacks sold feature the diesel engine, the only boxer diesel in production.

This high success rate comes despite the fact that the diesel engine is only available with a manual transmission. Subaru Australia says it is talking to the factory about the possibility of developing a diesel engine teamed with an automatic transmission.

The success of the Forester and Outback diesel models has prompted Subaru Australia to ask Subaru in Japan to make a Liberty diesel available for Australia, which could arrive in two years.

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