SUBARU has officially pulled the covers off its next-generation Forester SUV, the car that has underpinned its model range for the past 15 years and been a sales leader in the compact SUV class.
The next Forester will arrive here early next year with a new body that boasts chunkier, more aggressive styling that borrows cues from the current Impreza and its high riding XV offspring.
As with the Liberty and Impreza, the all-new Forester will get a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) said to bring performance and economy benefits.
Stop-start technology, which cuts the engine when the car comes to a halt to save fuel, is also likely to be standard along with an information display that shows exactly how much fuel is saved by using the system.
The CVT would replace an antiquated four-speed auto that has been a glaring weak link in the Forester's appeal for years, while issues with interior quality and the design and feel of cabin plastics are also expected to be significantly improved.
The company is also likely to expand its EyeSight package - a suite of safety systems that can detect objects in the car's path and brake automatically, among other functions - to high-end Forester models.
The Forester is expected to be offered with a range of smaller engines than the current version, which comes with 2.5-litre petrol engines (both naturally-aspirated and turbocharged) and a 2.0-litre turbo diesel.
The new engines are expected to include a 2.0-litre 'boxer' engine (as seen in the new Impreza small car and the XV compact SUV) producing about 110kW of power, while a new 2.0-litre twin-scroll turbo engine producing 205kW of grunt but paired exclusively to a CVT automatic is also expected to arrive. That engine is part of a strategy that will see the wider implementation of smaller turbocharged engines in Subaru's production cars.
Subaru has sold more than 169,000 Foresters in Australia and local managing director Nick Senior says the fourth generation will be the most significant since the original.
"It's a vehicle that could have been designed specifically for the Australian lifestyle - it's all-road, all-conditions, all-seasons and this new one will go further than any previous Forester," he says.