Forester stays true, with extras
No parent is exempt from the handwringing torture of bringing a new generation into the world and hoping they live long and enjoy life while successfully carrying on the family name.
It’s even harder in a family with a lineage of respectability and success.
No wonder Subaru was at pains to ensure its fifth-generation Forester stretched above the heights of its predecessors and stood ready to stamp its name firmly in the competitive mid-size SUV fraternity.
The new Forester won’t arrive until September but we sampled it on its home ground, alongside the heavily wooded hills shadowed by Mt Fuji in on-road and off-road conditions.
It’s a significant step up in technology.
There are very few shared components, with the current model looking remarkably similar.
Subaru Australia boss Colin Christie said it was deliberate, noting the almost 250,000 Australians who purchased an amazing onequarter of all the Foresters ever made by Subaru since its introduction decades ago, still want durability, efficiency, capability, comfort and space.
The newbie stays true to its forebears and then adds new things, such as a big step up in safety.
Every model gets autonomous emergency braking and there is the new Driver Monitoring System for the mid and top-spec variants which uses facial recognition to automatically set up the car for you (or four other family members).
DMS notices if you become distracted (including yawning, looking elsewhere or playing with your phone) and audibly warns you to pay attention.
There are other changes. There’s only one engine, an all-new 2.5-litre direct-injection unit borrowing some tech from the Subaru BRZ coupe.
It’s more powerful, claims to be more economical and meets Subaru’s claims of being quieter, smoother and actually a pleasantly fun engine to punt around.
The CVT automatic remains but has also been retuned so it’s smoother and gets the power down to all wheels in a quieter, quicker and more economical manner.
There’s an even more capable X-Mode off-road system which can be dialled up to suit varying degrees of off-road difficulty.
Suspension tuning creates a better ride and steering tweaks have picked up some almost sporty manners.
Physically, the wagon is 15mm longer and has a bigger luggage area and rear seat leg room, thanks to the wheelbase growing 30mm.
The car uses the same platform as the Impreza and XV which brings improvements in rigidity to aid handling and reduce body flexibility. It hasn’t compromised the Forester’s off-road capabilities, with the ground clearance remaining at a respectable 220mm and with steeper approach and departure angles.
In adopting the new chassis, the Forester has put on only about 25kg in weight, which is significant, considering the upgraded safety components, bigger engine and the extra dimensions.
The much wider boot opening is impressive and makes the wagon more adaptable to swallowing the family gear.
Cargo space is also much improved — up 76 litres to 498 litres with the rear seats up.
Your local Subaru dealer is Albany Autos, 9841 4555.
The fifth-generation Forester looks remarkably similar to its predecessors.
The dashboard has been upgraded to include new technology.