"The all-new Forester is now bigger and better with an all-round enhancement to its technology, interior and exterior to create an SUV that boasts performance, comfort and maximum safety," said Tan Chong International managing director Glenn Tan.
Although the company has indicated that it intends to introduce the SUV into the Malaysian market sometime in mid-2019, pricing will most likely be announced on launch date.
With four variants set to be made available in CKD-form for Malaysia, the variants will start with the 2.0i-L with EyeSight (ES), 2.0i-S and the range-topping 2.0i-S ES, while the more affordable entry-level 2.0i-L will get its own introduction towards the end of the year.
In terms of improvements, Tan explained during the launch that the new Forester's dimensions, among others, have been revised.
Compared to the outgoing model, overall dimensions have grown considerably, now with a wheelbase of 2,670mm (+30mm) while standing at 4,625mm-long (+15mm), 1,815mm-wide (+20mm) and 1,730mm-tall (+5mm).
In doing so, shoulder room at the front has been expanded by 20mm and the there is an added 33mm of leg room between the front and rear passengers.
Also, the roof rails have been raised to allow for easy rope attachment before widening the rear boot opening by 200mm to 1,300mm and adding a powered tailgate (2.0i-S and 2.0i-S ES) that opens and closes in nine seconds (four seconds faster).
While sporting a 63-litre fuel tank and ground clearance of 220mm, the Japanese SUV has a kerb weight of 1,538kg for the 2.0i-L and 2.0i-L ES, while the 2.0i-S and 2.0i-S ES weighs in similarly at 1,580kg.
Under the hood, sits a familiar 2.0-litre (1,995cc) naturally-aspirated direct-injection four-cylinder boxer engine that now provides 156PS at 6,000rpm and 196Nm of torque at 4,000rpm - previously with 150PS at 6,200rpm and 198Nm at 4,200rpm on tap.
The engine is married to a seven-speed (virtual) Lineartronic Continuously Variable Transmission with paddle shifters to manage power delivery to the Symmetrical All-wheel Drive system.
Standard equipment for the 2.0i-L consists of 17-inch wheels with 255/60 series tyres, bulbed front fogs, automatic LED headlights with washers and auto leveling, halogen daytime running lights (DRLs), powered side mirrors with integrated turn signals, raised roof rails, roof spoiler, shark-fin antenna, rear fog lamps, active grille shutters,
Inside, the cabin comes equipped with an electronic parking brake, dual-zone climate controls, multifunction display, keyless entry with push-start button, cruise control, one-touch turn signal, PIN code access, reclining rear seat and tonneau cover.
Additionally, there's also start-stop functionality, automatic wipers, SI Drive (Intelligent, Sport and Sport Sharp modes) and X-Mode (Normal, Sno/Dirt and Snow/Mud) for better traction.
Entertainment comes from an audio system that's controlled via an 8.0-inch touchscreen display with reverse camera, navigation, Bluetooth connectivity, USB port and AUX jack.
Safety is bolstered by seven airbags, four-channel anti-lock braking system, electronic brakeforce distribution, active torque vectoring, brake assist, brake override, vehicle dynamics control, automatic vehicle hold, emergency stop signal, safety pedal system and Isofix child-seat anchor points.
The 2.0i-L ES variant, on the other hand, gets LED DRLs, power adjustable front seats with driver-side memory function and heated door mirrors.
Moving up to the 2.0i-S and 2.0i-S ES variants, both variants sport larger 18-inch wheels with 255/55 series tyres, mat-silver body accents (front bumper underguard, side skirts and rear bumper protector), LED front fogs, brushed aluminium pedals, powered tailgate with memory function, customised Special X-Mode and a sunroof (2.0i-S ES only).
The variants that possess the 'ES' designation (2.0i-L ES and 2.0i-S ES) translates to added safety equipment and systems found under the Japanese carmaker's EyeSight Driver Assist Technology which uses a dual-camera system that 'see' in colour and is placed near the rearview mirror.
The technology includes safety systems such as adaptive cruise control, lane-keep assist with sway warning, pre-collision braking and throttle management as well as blind-spot detection, high-beam assist, rear cross traffic alert, side-view monitor and steering-responsive headlights.
"We are thrilled to launch the new fifth-generation Forester and are confident that the model will excite drivers and create amazing experiences with their loved ones," said Tan.