1 Aug 1997
Subaru sold its first four-wheel drive station wagon locally in 1975. Since then the Japanese company has become synonymous with it.
The Forester, though, was something else. With only car-derived monocoque construction, single wagon body style and constant 4WD, it moved the light 4WD wagon market along from the pioneered efforts of the original Toyota RAV4.
Subaru based the Forester on the Impreza, which was itself spun off the Liberty platform.
This helped its genuinely car-like handling and ride qualities, while imbuing the Forester with impressive levels of refinement.
Central to its character was Subaru’s ubiquitous 2.0-litre horizontally opposed single-cam four-cylinder engine, delivering 90kW of power and 176Nm of torque. A five-speed manual with hi-low range shift or a conventional four-speed automatic were the gearbox options.
Initially two models were launched – the base GX and well-equipped Limited.
The latter added anti-lock brakes, air-conditioning and self-levelling suspension to the GX’s standard power steering, power windows, keyless entry, nudge bar, cruise control and roof racks.