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Subaru Forester

Mk3 Forester

1 Mar 2008

PROGRESS in space, safety, driveability, style, economy, emissions, refinement and value define the redesigned Subaru Forester.

Known internally as the PF3, the third-generation vehicle to wear the nameplate since 1997 is a larger car than before.

It ditches the signature frameless doors – a move that mirrors the 2007 ZR1 Impreza on which the compact SUV is based on – while the rear suspension is an all-new double wishbone arrangement.

Subaru also beefed up the structure, widened the tracks, lengthened the wheelbase (primarily to increase rear legroom), jacked up the ground clearance by 20mm, and cut rear overhang, to conjure up a more SUV-style vehicle.

Yet the Forester’s centre of gravity falls 5mm as a result of lowering the engine by 10mm and the transmission by 22mm.

More powerful yet frugal engines, a five-star ENCAP crash-test rating, standard stability control and more interior practicality round out the main changes made to the MY09 Forester.

Subaru identified insufficient interior space as one of the outgoing Forester’s biggest drawbacks to one of its potential target group, young families.

So the MY09 model’s length, width, height and wheelbase increase by 75, 60, 110 and 90mm to come in at 4560, 1795, 1700 and 2615mm respectively.

Having full-framed doors means that they open wider than before, and are far less prone to noise and vibration issues.

There’s also a wider cargo area that can accommodate four golf bags.

Under the bonnet are revised versions of Subaru’s signature horizontally opposed ‘boxer’ four-cylinder engines.

The 2457cc 2.5-litre unit is available in single-overhead cam naturally aspirated guise in the base X and better-equipped XS models, or as a double overhead cam turbo-charged engine in the XT flagship.

Running a compression ratio of 10:1, the non-turbo 2.5-litre ‘boxer’ produces 126kW of power at 6000rpm.

Meanwhile, the XT’s powerplant delivers the same 169kW (at 5200rpm) and 320Nm as before. However, the latter peaks at 2800rpm, which is 800rpm-lower for much-improved driveability.

Aiding this is a reshaped turbo-charger turbine wheel and compressor impellor shape, while a larger Tumble Generator Valve reduces pumping loss.

The turbo engine’s power output means that the dual-range manual gearbox offered on the X and XS cannot be put into the XT.

Fitted with a limited slip differential, manual cars have a 50:50 torque split, with a viscous coupling all-wheel drive centre differential altering that right up to a 98:2 front/rear split difference.

Automatic Foresters have active torque split via a LAN system that constantly monitors speed info from each wheel, and engine output, to calculate changes in road conditions and steering in real time, for a 95:5 front/rear drive split.

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