We previously reported that the all-new, fifth-generation Subaru Forester would be launched sometime in July this year, and TC Subaru appears to be on track to deliver on that promise. Recently, paultan.org reader Andy Tang spotted the SUV roaming around Petaling Jaya, and managed to get a brochure for the new model.

Based on the document, three variants will be offered – 2.0i-L, 2.0i-S and 2.0i-S ES – with all of them powered by a FB20 2.0 litre naturally-aspirated four-cylinder petrol engine that benefits from direct injection. The boxer engine outputs 156 PS at 6,000 rpm and 196 Nm of torque at 4,000 rpm, with drive going to all four corners via a Lineartronic CVT and Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive system.

Before anything else, the biggest news is the availability of the EyeSight suite of driver assistance systems for the range-topping 2.0i-S ES variant, making the Forester the second Subaru model in Malaysia to gain the technology after the Outback, when it is officially launched. The list of systems here includes Pre-Collision Braking and Throttle Management, Lane Sway and Departure Warning, as well as Adaptive Cruise Control and Lead Vehicle Start Alert.

The 2.0i-S ES is also the only variant to get Lane Change Assist, Rear Cross-Traffic Alert, a Side View Monitor and a Blind-Spot Detection system. For now, there’s no official pricing, but an inquiry made by our source revealed an estimated sum of RM165k for the top-spec version of the Forester.

Safety kit that comes standard across the range includes a Vehicle Dynamics Control System (VDC), Active Torque Vectoring, brake assist, ABS, EBD, auto vehicle hold, reverse sensors, emergency stop signal, Isofix child seat anchors and seven airbags (front, side, curtain and driver’s knee).

As for other equipment, all variants come with an active grille shutter and automatic LED headlamps, but only the 2.0i-S and 2.0i-S ES come with auto levelling and steering responsive functions added, as well as LED daytime-running lights. These two variants also get LED fog lamps and 18-inch alloy wheels shod with 225/55 profile tyres, whereas the base option rolls on 17-inch units with 225/60 profile rubbers.

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Moving inside, eight-way power adjustable front seats, an eight-inch infotainment system, dual-zone climate control, instrument cluster display, paddle shifters, keyless entry and start, cruise control, an electronic parking brake, PIN code access, and a multifunction steering wheel are all standard across the board.

Variant-specific items such as aluminium pedals and a powered liftgate are reserved for the 2.0i-S and 2.0i-S ES. Ditto the Special X-Mode, which is an enhanced version of the regular X-Mode that makes it easier to swap between the ‘Snow/Dirt’ and ‘Deep Snow/Mud’ modes, where the latter now negates the need to manually switch off the traction control.

The latest Forester was first revealed at the 2018 New York International Auto Show (NYIAS), and rides on the Subaru Global Platform, which is also used for the XV, Impreza and Ascent. Design changes are more evolutionary rather than revolutionary, with highlights being the C-shaped DRLs and taillights on a slightly revised but still familiar body shape.

X-Mode (left), Special X-Mode (right)

The switch to the new platform also sees a wheelbase that is now longer by 30 mm at 2,670 mm, which contributes to more rear legroom (up by 35 mm to 1,000 mm), with improvements to head-, hip- and shoulder room as well. The SUV now offers up to 2,155 litres of boot space with the 60:40 split-folding rear seats down – a gain of 40 litres – and the maximum width of the tailgate opening is now 135 mm wider at 1,300 mm.

Unlike the outgoing Forester, the new one will arrive as a fully-imported (CBU) model from Thailand, where it is manufactured at Tan Chong Subaru Automotive (Thailand) Limited’s new assembly facility located in the Ladkrabang Industrial Estate. This is Subaru Corporation’s third factory in the world after its Gunma site in Japan and Subaru of Indiana Automotive in the United States.

We’ve already had a go in the new Forester during the official launch of the model in Taiwan in August last year, which you can read about here. With an estimated ceiling price of RM165k, what do you think of the Subaru SUV? Do you prefer it to rivals like the Mazda CX-5, Honda CR-V and the well-known Proton X70? Let us know in the comments below.

GALLERY: 2019 Subaru Forester 2.0i-S EyeSight (Taiwan-spec)