At long last, the 2016 Subaru Forester facelift officially makes its launch debut here in Malaysia, a few weeks after its regional debut at the Bangkok Motor Show. The good news here is, the refreshed crossover is now a locally-assembled (CKD) product, originating from Tan Chong’s Segambut plant.

However, only two of the three variants available are locally assembled – the 2.0i and 2.0i-P, both of which are naturally-aspirated. The third option here is the 2.0 XT, which comes fully imported (CBU) from Japan, and is turbocharged.

Prices start at RM144,948 for the 2.0i, before proceeding to RM154,488 for the 2.0i-P. The top-of-the-range XT will set you back RM211,729. Prices are on-the-road without insurance figures, and each purchase comes with a five-year/100,000 km warranty and a three-year/60,000 km free service package.

As an early buyer incentive, TC Subaru is offering an introductory price for the 2.0i at RM139,800 and 2.0i-P at RM151,800. Colour choices include Pure White, Silver Metallic, Dark Grey Metallic, Sepia Bronze Metallic and Obsidian Black Metallic. Motor Image says it aims to make the Forester its biggest volume seller with a sales target of 500 units monthly, which will make up for a large majority of its 2016 sales target of 7,000 units.

Telling the base 2.0i apart from the 2.0i-P and XT is pretty easy. The former wears the new bumper design that we first saw in Tokyo, whereas the pre-facelift XT’s more aggressive bumper design is retained for the other two variants. As a result, the 2.0i measure 4,610 mm long, while the other two are 4,595 mm long, although all three have the same width (1,795 mm) and height (1,735 mm).

On the exterior, the most noticeable change is the new grille design, with the Subaru logo positioned in the centre of the chrome bar, between three black slats. Flanking the grille are a pair of new LED headlamps with C-shaped DRLs that can be found on both the 2.0i-P and XT.

The LED units feature a Steering Responsive Headlight function that “bends” the light according to the direction of the steering input. The 2.0i meanwhile, gets halogen reflector lighting units and LED DRLs. As for wheel options, the XT gets 18-inch items with 225/55R18 tyres, while the remaining two variants (2.0i-P and 2.0i) are 17 inch in size, wrapped with 225/60R17 tyres.

Interior updates are part of the facelift as well. No change to the cabin layout, but several improvements have been made to give the Forester a more upmarket feel. For starters, leather upholstery is now standard across the line-up (XT gets a leather/suede combo). Subaru has also improved the vehicle’s NVH with additional soundproofing materials and thicker windows.

2016 Subaru Forester 2.0i-P int 1

From the driver’s seat, you’ll spot a new steering wheel, gear selector, aluminium pedals, paddle shifters, revised graphics on the instrument cluster, new TFT LCD colour display and dashboard-mounted multi-info colour display.

Other amenities include four-way electric-powered front driver (with memory function) and passenger seats on the 2.0i-P and XT, and a powered rear liftgate with memory function as well. Increasing cargo space can be done by laying down the 60:40 split-folding rear seats, simply done with a pull of two small levers.

A handy feature here is PIN code access feature, allowing owners to access their Forester without a key fob. Useful if you don’t want to get the fob damaged while let’s say white water rafting.

Entertainment for the CKD models is provided by a new Kenwood double-DIN touchscreen head-unit (2.0 XT gets a premium audio system with a Harmon Kardon speakers), which replaces the previous audio unit, and also acts as a display for the reverse camera. It comes with the usual connectivity functions (Bluetooth, USB, AUX, etc.) including MirrorLink as well.

2016 Subaru Forester 2.0i-P int 10

Under the hood, the Forester is instilled with Subaru’s DNA – boxer engine and Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive. Here, the first component is a 2.0 litre NA four-cylinder DOHC petrol unit (FB20). Fitted to the 2.0i and 2.0i-P, the mill outputs 150 PS at 6,200 rpm and 198 Nm at 4,200 rpm. A SI Drive Mode function is available here too, operated from buttons on the steering wheel.

The XT’s powerplant (FA20) retains the same capacity but benefits from direct-injection and turbocharging, dishing out 241 PS at 5,600 rpm and 350 Nm at 2,400 to 3,600 rpm. A Lineartronic CVT handles power delivery between the engines and the all-wheel drive system, although the XT receives a slightly different version to handle the higher output. The 2.0i-P and XT also get steering paddle shifters.

Safety-wise, the Forester is well equipped across its entire line-up with seven airbags (dual front, sides and curtains, driver’s knee), Vehicle Dynamics Control (VDC), Hill Start Assist, ring-shaped reinforcement frame and ABS (with EBD and BA) as standard.

So, if the current crop of C-segment SUVs/crossovers – Mazda CX-5, Honda CR-V, Nissan X-Trail, Mitsubishi Outlander, Hyundai Tucson and Kia Sportage – just don’t seem to appeal to you, is the 2016 Subaru Forester facelift the alternative for you? If it is, head on over to the Forester ROI page, here.

Subaru Forester 2.0i-P

Subaru Forester 2.0i