Subaru's fourth-gen Forester evolves gently, and why the Thai agent should stop selling it
It certainly looks less meek than before...
Uh-huh, the fourth-generation Subaru Forester now gets a bolder face than before which is, in fact, reflective of what can been seen in the Impreza donor car.
Even so, the traditional boxy profile has been maintained in the interests of cabin space and practicality. The width and height of the Forester are the same as before, except for the wheelbase and overall length that has grown in parallel by 35mm to 4,595mm and 2,640, respectively.
As a result, Subaru says there is more legroom and wider door apertures for easier entry and exit. Luggage-carrying ability is also said to be more versatile than ever.
I bet the engine line-up is practically the same...
Many interior lines reflect those of the Impreza donor car.
You bet. There's the usual 147hp 2.0-litre flat-four engine for the Japanese market and the bigger 170hp 2.5-litre for other countries (due to emission regs).
A turbo version _ albeit with new direct-injection technology _ is also available for both units producing 280hp and 250hp accordingly.
The good news, though, is the availability of a CVT automatic replacing the long-running four-speed auto used throughout the Forester's three predecessors.
New, too, is an all-wheel-drive system called X-Drive integrating the engine, transmission and stability control to enhance the Forester's driving manners under varying road conditions. Moreover, the so-called SI-Drive allows for sportier driving styles and lets the driver change eight gears manually.
Then why shouldn't it be sold in Thailand?
History usually serves good lessons. Ever since the Forester was born, it hardly managed to pop up on the radar screens of potential buyers in Thailand even though the Subaru agent sold it officially.
The boxy appearance was one culprit, explaining why the Honda CR-V took all the spoils in the compact SUV market.
More critical was the price. At just under 2 million baht in imported form, the Forester just can't make any logical sense against Thai-built CR-V, retailing at no more than 1.5 million baht.
Even punters who wanted to look different obviously couldn't come to terms with a SUV deemed as the farmer's choice in many other countries around the world.
Then what is left for Subaru to sell in Thailand?
The XV, my friend, the crossover that's also based on the C-segment Impreza. The main difference between the XV and Forester is the former's sporty appearance, essentially a jacked-up five-door Impreza.
As many of you may remember, the XV was previewed in Thailand late last year and goes on sale officially at the month-end Motor Expo.
The reason for the long wait is the assembly process of the Forester in Malaysia. And with Afta trade benefits in place, the XV will be coming to Thai shores in the region of 1 million baht when equipped with a 2.0-litre engine and CVT gearbox.
Sure, the XV may not be as practical as the Forester (or CR-V), but Motor Image Subaru Thailand is banking on the car's rakish looks that's hoped to appeal to urbanites bored stiff with the ubiquitous CR-V.
As ever, the Forester is all about practicality and comfort.
About the author
- Writer: Richard Leu
Position: Motoring news Editor