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Forester’s Oz form

Long weekender: Third-generation Forester offers more rear legroom.

Subaru’s Australian team had a say in the way the latest Forester turned out

25 Mar 2008

SUBARU has revealed that Australia has played an important role in the development of the latest Forester, which went on sale last week.

The third-generation compact SUV – codenamed PF3 – received Australian input as much as three years ago.

Speaking at the launch of the MkIII Forester earlier this month, Subaru Australia managing director Nick Senior stated that local executives interacted intensely with Japanese engineers during the PF3’s gestation.

“We’ve been involved on Forester from very, very early on,” he said.

“Where we’ve done a little bit of work was nine or ten months ago, working on fine-tuning on some of the driving dynamics, and we have a package that you see today that is testament that they got it right from day one.

“We drive it on the test track – a Japanese domestic model (vehicle) – and we pass judgement when we drive it here... to decide which direction to go.”

2 center imageLeft: Subaru Australia managing director Nick Senior.

Dealing with the previous-generation Forester’s tight rear legroom was a big priority for the Australians.

“This is a car that resonated with us in terms of its direction (addressing) the biggest customer negative comment, which was rear legroom.

“Where there is more upside for us is in its family appeal. Now we’ve got more interior space, and specifically more rear legroom.” Mr Senior’s team were also vocal in terms of getting the new Forester’s appearance right.

“One of the feedback (issues) of the (outgoing) Forester was that it was a little bit angular, and so here is a direction with a more contemporary styling to it,” he explained.

Adding a more SUV look was also important to the Australians.

“The SUV flavour needs to come through more, and that’s what we are seeing more of today.

“It’s still going to hit the mark with those who still buy a Forester to drive to work Monday to Friday, but its recreational aspect has been enhanced.”

Nevertheless, Subaru Australia insists that the old Forester’s basic recipe has not been messed with, and that he is extremely happy with the way the model has performed in showrooms since it debuted in Australia in the latter half of 1997.

“It’s addressed styling issues, (but) it was the car from day one that hit the mark and has not needed to change dramatically since then,” he said.

“There was not a lot you need to do on a car like the Forester. It’s been on the market for 11 years, and 10 of those have been consecutive years of growth. It was only last year, as we got to the end of the model life, that we didn’t break another record.”

Despite the new Forster’s growth, Mr Senior is confident that it will not encroach too much into the larger Liberty’s turf, although he said there may be some cannibalisation of Outback sales.

“Not for Liberty. Maybe a little bit for Outback.

“But by and large, internally we say the Forester is the car for weekends, and Outback is the car for long weekends. Forester is more about recreation, Outback is more about lifestyle. They are two differentiated segments, and I think that will still continue,” he summed up.

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