Instead, like a skilled craftsman with some sandpaper, the Japanese brand has further refined its sports utility vehicle (SUV) with comfort and convenience being its main game.
For this review, CarSifu.my was offered the range-topping Forester 2.0i-S, which is equipped with the brand’s latest Advance Driver Assist Systems dubbed EyeSight — because it uses two cameras.
Exterior and interior
The overall shape hasn’t changed with the exception of the front fascia, newly designed opposing—C front and rear lights as well as its larger overall size that contributes to a larger interior cabin.
Speaking of which, the interior too hasn’t changed...much, and although there are a few slight added details here and there — the level of familiarity is extremely high.
From its side profile, the Forester sits calmly with its 220mm ground clearance while rolling on 18—inch wheels with 225/55 series tyres and depending on one’s height, some calf flexing may be required to get in.
Inside, the leather-wrapped upholstery feels relatively plush with adequate amounts of thigh support, but one thing’s for certain — there’s going to be a highly noticeable amount of all-round visibility.
Head, shoulder and rear legroom are plentiful thanks to its 30mm longer wheelbase at 2,670mm and add dimensions at 4,625mm-long (+15mm), 1,815mm wide (+20mm) and 1,730mm tall (+5mm).
This has allowed the cabin to spread itself out, now providing 20mm more of shoulder room at the front, 33mm more rear legroom and allowing the rear boot opening to be expanded by 200mm at 1,300mm.
The engine has also been tweaked, with the 2.0-litre (1,995cc) flat-four Boxer engine now producing 156PS (+6PS) and 196Nm (+2Nm) of torque at 4,000rpm.
But the real difference from its predecessor is the fact that this range-topping variant has Subaru’s EyeSight — the Japanese carmaker’s advanced driver assistance system.
To summarise EyeSight, it simply helps provide a preventive measure for drivers and if it finds that there is no way of avoiding things, it’ll try to mitigate them.
How it drives
The Forester is always a smooth operator with its continuously variable transmission (CVT) that manages power delivery to its all-wheel-drive system.
The Boxer engine is responsive and is a willing player but lacks a sporty feel to it when trying to get off the line hastily.
The CVT doesn’t display that “rubber-band” effect traditionally associated with these transmissions — thanks to its seven virtual shift points that tries to mask its true identity, but paddle-shifting through them can bring out the Forester’s sporty character.
Braking at speed, the Forester keeps its composure in which it doesn’t really dive very much and roll isn’t that prevalent as compared to its predecessor.
Traversing over bumps and uneven road surfaces will indicate a more communicative suspension than before and throwing it around corners revealed far less roll as well.
Manoeuvring through tight locations is a cinch thanks to the inclusion of a forward-facing camera on the left wing-mirror that provides a visual feed with guidelines on the upper colour LCD display of the front left wheel.
Considering how high this SUV sits, it’s a definite welcome to help keep the front left wheel from getting stuck or to simply prevent curb-rashing the stylish alloys wheels.
On highways, the use of EyeSight’s adaptive cruise control made commutes a lot more relaxing and its lane sway warning system and lane departure warning will help keep drivers properly within their lanes.
The name comes from the Japanese brand’s use of two camera systems — much like how we humans have two eyes, to provide added preventive safety measures.
While stuck in traffic, the lead vehicle start alert system helped to ensure that trailing motorists won’t be annoyed by any lack of attention from the moment the lead car moves off.
Its pre-collision braking system does help keep drivers out of trouble.
Let’s face it, everyone’s either experienced something of that nature or merely had a close call.
Also included in EyeSight’s suite of safety systems are pre-collision throttle management which cuts throttle just prior to the moment of impact.
While this Forester may seem bland in the looks department, rest assured it’s definitely a rugged piece of equipment that can take its owner off tarmacked paths and into more secluded locations thanks to its intelligent Super AWD system that assures of traction in any given situation.
The high-riding effect with plenty of large gaping windows offers drivers plenty of all-round visibility and together with the added spaciousness, the cabin automatically feels airy and unconstrained.
Steering the Forester will be the biggest surprise in that it provides for a confidence-inspiring experience although sadly the powertrain won’t be there to support the cause and is the only let-down.
Keeping the momentum through the corners, this SUV will surprise with its poise and athleticism that’ll rival even European makes.
The RM169,788 Forester will serve a wide spectrum of purposes from daily commutes to those looking for an assuring vehicle that isn’t too bulky like a pickup truck to get them in and out of secluded locations — hence its somewhat rugged looks.
Not to mention, the safety equipment found in the Forester is impressive and will give confidence to its driver that it’ll not only take care of occupants but also, to a certain degree, other road goers as well.
Subaru Forester 2.0i-S EyeSight
Engine: 1,995cc flat-four Boxer engine
Maximum power: 156PS at 6,000rpm
Maximum torque: 196Nm at 4,000rpm
Transmission: Seven-speed (virtual) Lineartronic Continuously Variable Transmission with paddle shifters
Features: Seven airbags, four-channel antilock braking system with electronic brake-force distribution, brake assist, brake override, electronic parking brake, active torque vectoring, auto vehicle hold, vehicle dynamics control system, hill descent control, towing vehicle dynamics control system, 18-inch wheels with 225/55 series tyres, auto-levelling headlight function, front LED fogs, powered tailgate with memory height function, side-view monitor, rear vehicle detection system and EyeSight driver assist technology including pre-collision braking, pre-collision throttle management, lane sway warning, lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control and lead vehicle start alert.
Price (OTR without insurance): RM159,788