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Driven: Subaru’s new-gen Forester hits the market

More safety gear and practical space headline Subaru’s consolidated Forester range

Subaru logo7 Sep 2018

SUBARU’S fifth-generation Forester mid-size SUV has landed in Australia, headlined by boosted standard safety equipment and a roomier interior, but with a sole 2.5-litre petrol powertrain that cuts the line-up from nine variants to just four.
 
Kicking off at $33,490 before on-roads for the 2.5i, $35,490 for the 2.5i-L, $38,490 for the 2.5i Premium and $41,490 for the flagship 2.5i-S – all powered by a 136kW/239Nm 2.5-litre naturally aspirated four cylinder paired with a continuously-variable automatic transmission (CVT) – the entry point to the Forester is now $3250 pricier than before.
 
However, the outgoing base 2.0i-L was powered by an 110kW/198Nm petrol engine and manual gearbox that is not available in new-generation form. Similarly, the flagship 177kW/350Nm 2.0-litre turbo-petrol XT and 108kW/350Nm diesel versions have also been discontinued.
 
Only two 2.5-litre-powered Foresters were available before, the $33,240 2.5i-L and $39,740 2.5i-S, with their successors increasing pricing by $2250 and $1750 respectively.
 
Speaking to GoAuto at the launch of the new Forester, Subaru Australia managing director Colin Christie said the superseded engines only contributed small numbers to the brand’s bottom line, and that electrified powertrains would come on stream to bolster the line-up in future.
 
“I think if you actually look at the sales volume of those cars, the 2.0-litre manual was extremely low volume and it was really just some fleets that picked it up,” he said. “Even though it was a smaller entry price, I don’t think it will really have an impact.
 
“Diesel’s an interesting one, our volume of diesel had dropped as well. There are certainly some customers who want a diesel and will continue to want a diesel into the future, but I think from Subaru’s point of view looking forward, hybridisation – as we’ve spoken to – electrification down the track is really, I think, where the future is.
 
“We’ll have a couple of hybrid models in market in the next couple of years basically, and I think that will allow us to meet some of the needs of those diesel, or potential diesel, customers, but also you saw the fuel economy gains that this car has delivered on top of power and torque increases, that’s actually delivering much longer range than it had previously as well.”
 
The updated 2.5-litre unit raises outputs by 10kW/4Nm that is channelled to all four wheels for an average fuel consumption figure of 7.4 litres per 100km, an improvement of 0.7L/100km, despite a slight weight penalty.
 
By comparison, the outgoing oil-burner sipped as little as 5.9L/100km in manual form and 6.4L/100km when paired with a CVT.
 
Despite the smaller line-up, Mr Christie expects the new Forester to grow its market share, which hit 12,474 units last year, but would not be drawn on specific volume metrics. 
 
“We actually haven’t set a (sales) target for it,” he said. “I would be extremely disappointed if we did not sell the same, if not more.
 
“At this stage, for us, we always like to see what the reaction is, what the feel is, and then we work with the factory in terms of what that means for production and capacity.
 
“We used to have a five or six thousand dollar walk from one to the other, now we’ve got a really nice graduated walk … so we actually think we’ll significantly grow that core audience, we might lose a bit of that (top end) and a bit of that (bottom end), but we actually think we can significantly grow that core audience.”
 
Standard safety equipment has also been significantly improved in the new-gen Forester, which gains Subaru’s EyeSight dual-camera active safety system that enables autonomous emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, pre-collision braking and lane-keep assist.
 
In addition, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, automatic and adaptive LED headlights, tyre pressure monitoring, a reversing camera and Subaru’s X Mode all-terrain drive mode selector is also fitted to all Forester vehicles. 
 
Stepping up to the 2.5i-L adds a new Driver Monitoring System (DMS) that sports a driver-facing facial recognition camera to monitor distraction and drowsiness, adaptive headlights, front- and side-view monitors, EyeSight monitor, and reverse automatic braking.
 
Meanwhile, the DMS in the two top grades adds a driver profile system that can recognise, recall and store seat and mirror settings based on individual faces.
 
Equipment levels in the base 2.5i extends to 17-inch alloy wheels, heated and powered side-view mirrors, full-sized spare wheel, rear spoiler, roof rails, cloth trim, LED daytime running lights, six-speaker sound system, single USB centre console port, 4.2-inch driver display, 6.3-inch multi-function screen located above the centre stack, and 6.5-inch infotainment touchscreen with digital radio, Bluetooth and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility.
 
The 2.5i-L mirrors the entry-level grade’s equipment level, barring the aforementioned increased safety gear, while the 2.5i Premium gains 18-inch wheels, chrome window sills, alloy pedals, auto-folding side mirrors, electric-folding rear seats, powered tailgate, leather-accented interior, electronically adjustable front pews, dual-USB centre console ports and larger 8.0-inch infotainment system with satellite navigation.
 
Flagship 2.5i-S grades add silver-coloured side mirrors, roof rails and side cladding, as well as LED front foglights, electric sunroof, premium Harman kardon nine-speaker sound system and full-leather interior.
 
Moving to Subaru’s new Global Platform means the Forester is now 15mm longer, 20mm wider and sits on a 30mm extended wheelbase when compared with the outgoing model.
 
As a result, the new Forester’s boot can swallow 78 litres more volume for a total of 498L, while the rear aperture has also been widened for easier loading.
 
Interior space has also been increased, with shoulder room up 30mm to 1478mm, while leg and hip room expands 8mm and 5mm to 1101 and 1374mm respectively for front passengers.
 
For second-row passengers, shoulder, hip and legroom is up 20, 15 and 65mm to 1454, 1361 and 1000mm respectively.
 
The new Forester also features an 18.7 and 24.6 degree approach and departure angle, as well as a 19.6 degree breakover angle.
 
Servicing intervals have also increased to 12 months/12,500km and the Forester, like all new Subaru models, sports a three year/unlimited kilometre warranty with 12 months roadside assist.



2018 Subaru Forester pricing*

 
2.5i (a) $33,490
2.5i-L (a) $35,490
2.5i Premium (a) $38, 490
2.5i-S (a) $41,490

*Excludes on-road costs


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