The fifth-generation Subaru Forester has finally been launched in Malaysia, with TC Subaru offering three variants to customers here. Pricing starts from RM139,788 for the base 2.0i-L, while the 2.0i-S goes for RM149,788. Meanwhile, at the very top is the 2.0i-S ES that retails for RM159,788; all prices are inclusive of a five-year/100,000-km warranty.

The latest Forester was first unveiled at the 2018 New York International Auto Show, and rides on the Subaru Global Platform (SGP) that also underpins the latest XV, Impreza and Ascent. While the overall shape remains familiar, the new Forester does receive some significant updates to its styling, starting with a larger front grille (with active shutters) that is flanked by reshaped LED headlamps with C-shaped LED daytime running lights. These come as standard on the 2.0i-S and 2.0i-S ES, but the base 2.0i-L gets bulb-type DRLs instead.

The lower apron also has a more prominent skid plate, while the fog lamp sections are larger and come without the “slits” of the outgoing model. At the rear, the taillights mimic the look of the front lighting units, with C-shaped clusters to create a more distinctive look. The tailgate opening is now 135 mm wider at 1,300 mm, which should make loading larger items a little easier.

Viewed from the side, the silhouette doesn’t change too much from the fourth-gen model, but the new car is actually 30 mm longer than before at 4,625 mm, with all of it going to the wheelbase that now spans 2,670 mm. Other dimensional changes include an increase in width that now measures 1,815 mm (+20 mm), and decrease in height of five mm to 1,730 mm.

The increased wheelbase 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 also offers almost 100 litres more boot space at 520 litres, with 2,155 litres available with the 60:40 split-folding rear seats down, the latter being a gain of 40 litres.

Much like the exterior, the cabin has an air of familiarity to it, with a dashboard layout that places an emphasis on the centre stack. In this area, you’ll find a display at the top for various vehicle functions like the vehicle’s pitch angle, fluid temperatures and fuel economy, among others.

Just below this are the air-con vents, an eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Bluetooth, HDMI and radio functions, switchgear for the dual-zone climate control, a 12-volt power port and a small storage cubby. Beyond that, the centre console houses the gear level, X-Mode/Special X-Mode controller, the electronic parking brake and automatic brake hold function button – these are standard on the three variants.

Also standard is the FB20 2.0 litre naturally-aspirated direct-injection four-cylinder petrol engine, which serves up 156 PS at 6,000 rpm and 196 Nm of torque at 4,000 rpm, paired with a Lineartronic CVT and Subaru’s Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive system.

Drivers will have access to the Subaru Intelligent Drive (SI-Drive) system, with two drive modes for the powertrain, as well as X-Mode on the 2.0i-L. The remaining two variants come with an enhanced version of the function called Special X-Mode, which makes it easier to swap between ‘Snow/Dirt’ and ‘Deep Snow/Mud’ modes.

As for the rest of the kit list, all variants come with eight-way power adjustable front seats, an instrument cluster display, paddle shifters, keyless entry and start, cruise control, PIN code access, a rearview camera and a multifunction steering wheel.

Only the top two variants come with 18-inch alloy wheels wrapped with 225/55 series tyres and leather upholstery, while the 2.0i-L settles for 17-inch units with 225/60 series tyres and fabric seats. The base variant also misses out on auto-levelling and steering responsive functions for the headlamps, along with LED fog lamps.

On the safety front, standard features include 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).

The range-topping 2.0i-S ES is the only one that comes with the EyeSight suite of driver assistance systems, making the Forester the second Subaru model to get EyeSight after the Outback. The list of systems here include Pre-Collision Braking and Throttle Management, Lane Sway and Departure Warning, as well as Adaptive Cruise Control and Lead Vehicle Start Alert. Lane Change Assist, Rear Cross-Traffic Alert, a Side View Monitor and a Blind-Spot Detection system are also included.

The new Forester, unlike its predecessor, arrives 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. If you’re curious what the new Forester is like to drive, we’ve already had the chance to try the SUV in Taiwan last year, and you can read our thoughts of it here.

For detailed specifications of the new Forester, check out CarBase.my.

2019 Subaru Forester 2.0i-S ES

2019 Subaru Forester 2.0i-S