Motor Image Malaysia has quietly introduced the Subaru Forester 2.0i-L in the country to keep the existing Forester 2.0 XT company. It’s basically the more affordable, non-turbo variant of the fourth-gen Forester, which was launched in Malaysia in July 2013.
Under the bonnet you’ll find the same engine that powers our XV 2.0i – a naturally-aspirated, multi point-injected 2.0 litre twin-cam FB flat-four that develops 150 PS at 6,200 rpm and 198 Nm of torque at 4,200 rpm (Forester 2.0 XT: 240 PS at 5,600 rpm, 350 Nm between 2,400 and 3,600 rpm).
The engine is connected to a Lineartronic CVT with six virtual ratios. As the SI-Drive here only offers Intelligent and Sport modes, you don’t get the eight virtual ratios afforded by the 2.0 XT’s Sport Sharp mode.
Of course, the CVT’s ratios (as in gearing) here differ from the 2.0 XT’s. You still get Symmetrical Active Torque Split AWD, X-Mode off-road settings, hill descent control and hill start assist. The 2.0i-L weighs 1,495 kg – 140 kg less than the 2.0 XT.
There’s a tamer-looking face – a different front bumper forgoes the 2.0 XT’s chrome bits, huge side ‘whiskers’ and prominent number plate bar. The grille is of a two-layered design, as opposed to the 2.0 XT’s honeycomb mesh.
Also, the grille surround and wing on which the Subaru logo sits are painted silver here; they are chromed on the 2.0 XT. Other outside differences include unpainted roof rails, the absences of a side chrome strip and power tailgate, 225/60 R17 alloys (2.0 XT gets 225/55 R18s) and one tailpipe (2.0 XT gets two).
Inside, a six-speaker 2-DIN sound system is in place of the 2.0 XT’s eight-speaker Harman Kardon setup, although Bluetooth is retained. There are no aluminium pedals, no leather gear gaiter (exposed gate) and no chrome- and gloss black-trimmed gear lever base.
But that seems to be it – keyless entry and start, auto dual-zone air-con, auto self-levelling HID headlamps with washers, auto wipers, eight-way electrically-adjustable front seats, a reverse camera, cruise control and the same black fabric seats all trickle down from the 2.0 XT.
As do the safety aids – seven airbags, VDC, ABS, EBD and Isofix are fitted as standard. The car on display here at the PJ showroom does not have a sunroof, but the actual car sold to the public will have it, we’re told, with deliveries set to begin in June or July.
Fully imported (CBU) from Japan, the Subaru Forester 2.0i-L is priced at RM175,690, OTR with insurance. That’s RM30k less than the RM206,471 Forester 2.0 XT. Check out Episode 2 of our Driven Web Series, where the Subaru Forester made a surprise appearance.