2021 Subaru Forester facelift makes its debut in Japan – revised styling; hybrid and turbo boxer engines

2021 Subaru Forester facelift makes its debut in Japan – revised styling; hybrid and turbo boxer engines

Subaru has given the fifth-generation Forester its first mid-cycle refresh, more than three years after the SUV first made its global debut. Pre-orders for the refreshed SUV will begin in Japan this August, with customers being able to choose from four trim levels – Touring, X-Break, Advance and Sport.

The main styling changes are seen at the front, as the Forester sports new headlamps that are more upright and angular in design. Each cluster features a trailing bit that points towards a more prominent grille, which has a new insert within its hexagonal shape.

The bolder look is further accentuated by a front bumper that slightly protrudes just below the lighting clusters, while the rectangular-shaped sections for the fog lamps carry a new multi-slat insert within them – the Sport variant gets its own design here.

The lower intake gets a slight tweak to provide more visual depth as well, with the bumper guard now layered on top of the frame that anchors the base of the bumper. As for the rear, it appears to remain unchanged from the pre-facelift model, as the C-shaped taillights and lower apron are carried over. The same applies to the interior, with the general layout of controls and equipment being the same, although there are some new trim and upholstery options, depending on variant.

2021 Subaru Forester facelift makes its debut in Japan – revised styling; hybrid and turbo boxer engines

As for engines, the Touring, X-Break and Advance trim levels all come with Subaru’s e-Boxer hybrid powertrain as standard. This consists of an FB20 2.0 litre naturally-aspirated flat-four engine that drives all four wheels via a Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive system, with the hybrid component being an electric motor placed within the Lineartronic CVT.

On paper, the boxer engine develops 145 PS (143 hp) at 6,000 rpm and 188 Nm of torque at 4,000 rpm, while the e-motor is rated at 13.6 PS (13.4 hp) and 65 Nm. The e-motor draws power from a lithium-ion battery that has an energy capacity of 4.8 Ah, and contributes to fuel consumption of either 18.6 km/l (JC08 standard) or 14 km/l (WLTC standard).

The e-Boxer variants also receive an active front grille shutter and a feature called e-Active Shift Control, which senses the acceleration and G forces of the car to ensure the engine speed provides improved acceleration feel, or to improve engine braking on a hill descent.

Meanwhile, the Sport variant is the only one that comes with a 1.8 litre turbocharged flat-four engine. The CB18 unit, which doesn’t get any form of electrification, is the same one used in the latest Levorg and puts out 177 PS (174 hp) from 5,200 to 5,600 rpm and 300 Nm from 1,600 to 3,600 rpm. It gets the same CVT and AWD pairing as the e-Boxer, although the fuel consumption rating is 16.5 km/l (JC08 standard) or 13.6 km/l (WLTC standard).

2021 Subaru Forester facelift makes its debut in Japan – revised styling; hybrid and turbo boxer engines

In terms of equipment, the Touring and X-Break variants come with 17-inch alloy wheels, while the Advance and Sport are fitted with larger 18-inch units instead. Other available features include X-Mode, LED headlamps with steering-follow function, fabric or leather upholstery, a powered sunroof.

All variants also come standard with Subaru’s EyeSight suite, which the company says has wider operating ranges and utilises a revised stereo camera setup with an expanded field of view. The safety and driver assist systems the are included are autonomous emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, false start suppression control as well as lane departure warning and assist.

Further system offered as an option are emergency pre-crash steering assist, rear vehicle detection, adaptive headlamps, a smart rear-view mirror and drive monitoring. Subaru also says all trim levels benefit from improved suspension to achieve both “suppleness and sportiness at a high level.”

GALLERY: 2020 Subaru Forester e-Boxer (UK market)

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Gerard Lye

Originating from the corporate world with a background in finance and economics, Gerard’s strong love for cars led him to take the plunge into the automotive media industry. It was only then did he realise that there are more things to a car than just horsepower count.



  • transformer on Jun 14, 2021 at 5:17 pm

    Great Japanese all terrain outdoor SUV. Banzai!!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0
  • dong gor on Jun 14, 2021 at 6:10 pm

    it’s 2021 already and still this look…seriously Subaru?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 3
  • Why trying so hard?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
  • Semi-Value (Member) on Jun 14, 2021 at 9:38 pm

    hi subaru, it was the rear that needed fixing. not the front.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1
  • Pak Hailam on Jun 14, 2021 at 9:45 pm

    Strangely, I find that many unker and auntie loves and adore the design of the Forester.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 3
  • Cool

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0
  • Of all the Japanese carmakers, Subaru has the most drab interior, and super conservative designs. Even their supposedly “exciting” cars like the XV and the WRX still all boring inside.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 4

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