Motor Image, the exclusive distributor of Subaru in Malaysia and a wholly-owned subsidiary of Tan Chong International Limited, assembles the all-wheel-driven Japanese mid-sized sport utility vehicle in Thailand at its Tan Chong Subaru Automotive plant.
For Malaysia, the Forester arrives in three variants starting with the 2.0i-L as the base, 2.0i-S and finally the range-topping 2.0i-S EyeSight which have been priced on-the-road without insurance at RM139,788, RM149,788 and RM159,788 respectively.
For colours, there are seven choices of Crystal White Pearl, Ice Silver Metallic, Jasper Green Metallic, Horizon Blue Pearl, Sepia Bronze Metallic, Dark Grey Metallic and Crystal Black Silica.
In conjunction with the launch, new buyers of the Forester will enjoy a comprehensive warranty coverage of five years or 100,000km (wherever is earlier).
Although the Forester has been officially launched, it will only be showcased from Aug 24 onwards at all Subaru showrooms within Peninsular Malaysia, while East Malaysia will only get to see it in its sheet-metal sometime in September.
In terms of improvements over the fourth-generation Forester, overall dimensions have grown considerably with a new wheelbase of 2,670mm (+30mm) and measuring in 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 with an added 33mm of legroom at the rear, with raised roof rails and a wider rear boot opening at 1,300mm (+200mm)
Power comes from the familiar 2.0-litre (1,995cc) naturally-aspirated direct-injection four-cylinder boxer engine that sips from a 63-litre fuel tank which produces 156PS (+6PS) at 6,000rpm (-200rpm) and 196Nm (+2Nm) of torque at 4,000rpm (-200rpm) on tap.
This is managed by a seven-speed (virtual) Lineartronic Continuously Variable Transmission with paddle shifters before sending it to the Symmetrical All-wheel Drive system.
For more enthusiastic drivers, there is the Subaru Intelligent Drive (SI-Drive) which comes with two modes of Intelligent and Sport, while the regular X-Mode provides traction when faced with snow/dirt.
The basic 2.0i-L comes fitted with pop-up type headlamp washers, black front and rear underguards and side claddings, roof spoiler, shark fin antenna, roof rails and 17-inch Aluminium-alloy wheels with 225/60 series tyres.
Illumination comes from the use of LEDs for its headlights, rear combination and fog lights while the front fogs have been relegated to halogens.
For convenience, there's power-folding door mirrors, automatic wipers, keyless entry with push-start button and one-touch turn signal.
Inside, the seats have been upholstered in leather as is the steering wheel with paddle-shifters and gear knob while the cabin gets decked out with eight-way powered front seats and a 60:40-split folding rear seats with reclining function and one-touch folding switch.
Also included are one-touch front power windows with pinch protection, 12-volt power outlets in the centre panel and centre console box, boot PIN Code access, dual-zone automatic climate controls with anti-dust filter and rear vents.
For entertainment, there are six speakers attached to the eight-inch audio display system with navigation, Bluetooth connectivity, three USB ports, AUX jack, HDMI input and reverse camera.
For safety, there are 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 and towing vehicle dynamics control system.
Moving up to the 2.0i-S gets new owners silver-plated front and rear underguards and side claddings, roof rails with integrated tie-down points and 18-inch wheels with 225/55 series tyres
Also, the front headlights are now steering responsive with an auto-levelling function, while the front fogs now use LEDs, paddle shifters are made out of aluminium and now sports a powered tailgate with memory height function that opens and closes in nine seconds (four seconds faster).
Additionally, the 2.0i-S swaps in a Special X-MODE that add Deep Snow and Mud the list of surfaces when seeking traction.
As for the range-topping 2.0i-S EyeSight, this variant heated door mirrors, a side view monitor, a rear vehicle detection system that lights up visual indicators to alert the driver that there is an object or vehicle in the blind spot or when vehicles in the neighbouring lanes approach.
Also added is the EyeSight driver assist technology which includes pre-collision braking, pre-collision throttle management, lane sway warning, lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control and lead vehicle start alert to the list of safety systems.
"This is the first Forester that incorporates all of Subaru's four core technologies, which means a safer, more comfortable and enjoyable experience for drivers and passengers. With EyeSight, the journey is safer and less stressful," said Tan Chong International Limited deputy chairman Glenn Tan.
Following the launch, the revamped Subaru Petaling Jaya showroom was also unveiled which now integrates technological and lifestyle elements into the venue that's designed to deliver a unique experience for customers.
This showroom is one the first in the country to feature Augmented Reality which will allow customers to select various vehicle colour and trim options while Virtual Reality will allow them to take a 360-degree view around and inside the vehicle.
Also included in the showroom's showcase are a range of accessories and lifestyle merchandise as well as a "Subaru Loves Children and Babies Forest" - an area specially created for families and children.