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Subaru lobs Forester 2.5i Sport, but no turbo

Subaru debuts new Forester 2.5i Sport but throws cold water on turbo hopes

18 Sep 2020


SUBARU Australia has injected a new level of sportiness into its current Forester range, unveiling and detailing the new $41,990 (plus on-roads) 2.5i Sport, a variant which ups the Forester’s visual prowess but lacks the mechanical upgrades of previous sporty Foresters.


Still powered by the familiar 2.5-litre flat-four petrol engine, the Sport boasts the same 136kW/239Nm outputs as the rest of the petrol Forester range – power is still sent to all four wheels via a continuously variable transmission – but takes the crown as the best looking variant thanks to black 18-inch wheels, grille and foglight surrounds, orange highlights on the front, side and rear under guards and orange inserts on the roof rails.


Sport badging completes the exterior look while the black and orange theme is continued inside the cabin with black cupholder surrounds, grey cloth upholstery, orange stitching and orange trim inserts around the air vents and gear selector.


Subaru Australia says the 2.5i Sport will slot neatly between the higher-tier 2.5i Premium and 2.5i-S in terms of both spec and price, with the new variant scoring water repellent upholstery, electric sunroof, LED foglights, internal rear gate lamp and cargo room lamp.


The rest of the standard kit largely mirrors that of the 2.5i Premium and includes alloy pedals, auto-folding side mirrors, electric-folding rear seats, powered tailgate, electronically adjustable front pews, dual-USB centre console ports and an 8.0-inch infotainment system with satellite navigation, digital radio, Bluetooth and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility.


Not due to hit local showrooms until next month, the 2.5i Sport also ushers in a series of range-wide upgrades for the Forester including an uprated towing capacity of 1800kg (+300kg) thanks to an upgraded cooling system, new headlight design and automatic central locking with a collision detection unlock function.


The new collision detection unlock system is designed to do largely what it says on the tin, namely unlock the doors and tailgate in the event of a collision in a bid to prevent occupants from being trapped inside.


According to Subaru Australia managing director Christian Dinsdale, the 2.5i Sport provides customers with a wider range to choose from and broadens the Forester’s appeal.


“2.5i Sport AWD is the third variant we have added to the initial four offerings in the current generation and it’s an eye-catching and practical wagon that only enhances Forester’s customer appeal,” he said.


“The 300kg increase in towing capacity for non-hybrid variants also represents a significant advance, which will convince a broader set of customers to consider Forester for its practicality across a whole set of parameters.”


While the 2.5i Sport unquestionably adds a sportier flavour to the Forester line-up, those longing for a genuinely sporty Forester will have to either bide their time or look elsewhere with a local spokesperson confirming to GoAuto there are no immediate plans to resurrect the defunct XT nameplate.


“We always give careful consideration to where any new variants will fit in the range and also offer greatest customer choice and appeal,” they said.


“We’re constantly talking to the factory in Japan about future options, but there are no immediate plans for an equivalent to the superseded XT.”


Not all hope is lost however, because while the return of a turbocharged Forester may be off the table, the possibility of a sportier variant – in terms of chassis and interior – was not dismissed quite so quickly.


“We’re always looking at ways to maintain and refresh interest, but we guard these plans closely until we’re ready share them,” the spokesperson said.


“We remain focused on our genuine all-wheel-drive path right across our SUV range.


“It’s a point of difference that separates us from the pack and offers real-world all-paw ability in a very broad range of conditions, underlining the fun, durability and safety for which Subaru is renowned.”


Elsewhere in the market, Hyundai officials indirectly confirmed this week that an N Performance version of the all-new Tucson is on the way as spy shots of the smaller Kona N continue to surface while Ford is gearing up to launch its new-generation Escape, powered by a 183kW/387Nm 2.0-litre turbo.


For reference, the last-generation Forester XT was motivated by a 2.0-litre turbo flat-four good for 177kW/350Nm.


The Forester has proven to be brand’s most popular model so far this year ending August, chalking up 7436 sales and accounting for 7.6 per cent of the sub-$60,000 medium SUV segment.


2020 Subaru Forester pricing*

2.5i (a) $34,690
2.5i-L (a) $36,940
2.5i Premium (a) $39,940
2.0 Hybrid L (a) $39,990
2.5i Sport (a) $41,990
2.5i-S (a) $42,990
2.0 Hybrid S (a) $45,990

*Excludes on-road costs

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