Subaru Forester S-Edition review

THE Bathurst 12-Hour race this weekend was to be the launch event for the new “performance” model in the Subaru Forester range.  However, Subaru boss Nick Senior says there was not a suitable category in the event for the turbocharged S-Edition. 

Instead, the S-Edition, which had its world debut at the Australian International Motor Show in Sydney last October, was launched on the dusty roads west of Canberra this week.

The new flagship “performance” model includes a range of WRX STI components and is the most powerful model in the compact SUV range in Australia.

It arrives along with a host of changes to the Forester line-up including a standard reversing camera in most models, more connectivity for iPods and Bluetooth mobile phones and the first new boxer engine since 1989.

PRICE

The S-Edition is listed at $50,990, which is $3500 more than the XT model, but it has 24kW more power, 27Nm more torque, leather upholstery and STI 17-inch wheels, turbocharger, intercooler and suspension.

Prices for the base Forester X and diesel remain unchanged despite the upgrade in standard features while the price rise in most other models has been kept to $500.

Senior also announced that Subaru and Datadot were now offering a refund of customers’ insurance excess if their vehicle is stolen and not recovered in 45 days during the first year.

TECHNOLOGY

The S-Edition 2.5 litre boxer engine generates 193kW of power, 347Nm of torque and sprints to 100km/h in 6.5 seconds compared with the XT’s 7.9.  It comes with a paddleshift five-speed automatic gearbox and Variable Torque Distribution (VTD) all-wheel drive.

The base model petrol Foresters get the new FB naturally aspirated horizontally opposed boxer engine, replacing the EJ unit introduced in 1989.  The longer stroke and smaller bore lift low and mid-range torque, decrease emissions and retain the same economy of 9.3 litres per 100km.

It also gets a maintenance-free chain drive system replacing the belts.  Senior says the engine will be introduced throughout the Subaru range over the next few years.

The new FB engine also required changes to the four-speed automatic transmission in the Forester X and XS, while the S-Edition comes in five-speed auto only. It’s a specially tuned version of the paddleshift transmission from the automatic WRX STI.

S-Edition gets the STI suspension with softer spring and damping rates and stiffer bushes, while the rest of the range just get the stiffer bushes to reduce pitch and roll.

DESIGN

Only Subaru anoraks will notice the exterior changes.  The grille is slightly different, the indicators are now in the door mirrors in all but the X and diesel models and there are two new shades of blue paint available.

Forester X, XS and XT have black-finish roof rails, while S-Edition gets silver.  Inside, the dashboard has a darker finish, a soft feel coating for the instrument panels and new colours.  S-Edition gets some extra badging, black and blue alcantara seats, drilled alloy pedals, luminescent instruments and STI wheels.

SAFETY

All Subarus have DataDot security and five-star crashworthiness ratings.  Now the Forester adds a reversing camera in all but the X and diesel models, regardless of the audio system.  However, parking sensors are an optional extra.

DRIVING

The new S-Edition is certainly quicker and more nimble, but it’s not really a performance car.  Acceleration is prompt without being electrifying and it’s accompanied by a quite sombre exhaust note.

And don’t be put off by the STI suspension componentry because this is not a bone-shaking, kidney-punching ride like the WRX STI.

Ride and handling are just about ideal for a dual-purpose vehicle with enough compliance to sort out the lumps and bumps, while keeping the car flat through corners.  It is a great improvement on the standard suspension.  Models with the new FB engine were not available for test on launch.

VERDICT

While the S-Edition is no STI, you can feel the extra oomph and the ride and handling are greatly improved.This should appeal to a slightly younger audience, although the biggest barrier will be the price tag.  Other changes should ensure the range remains at the top of the compact SUV category.

PRICES

Forester X manual             $30,990
Forester X auto               $32,990
Forester XS manual            $34,990
Forester XS auto              $36,990
Forester XS Premium manual    $38,490. With SatNav option: $40,490
Forester XS Premium auto      $40,490. With SatNav option: $42,490
Forester 2.0D manual          $35,990
Forester 2.0D Premium manual  $40,490. With SatNav option: $42,490
Forester XT manual            $39,990
Forester XT auto              $41,990
Forester XT Premium manual    $45,490
Forester XT Premium auto      $47,490
Forester S-Edition auto       $50,990

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Price N/A

WHAT TO READ NEXT