This is Subaru's all-new Forester estate, set to be unveiled at January's Detroit motor show. Devoted fans won't be disappointed, because the 2009 model year Forester dogmatically sticks to the Forester formula: a jacked up, four-wheel drive wagon, but with a newish look, more refinement and improved safety levels, says Subaru.
I see why you're calling it a newISH look...
Today's boxy, oldschool Volvo-look makes way for a boxy, newschool Mitsubishi Outlander-look. The lamps, grille and glasshouse are slightly more expressive than on the current car, but Subaru isn't breaking any new ground for car design. Good job, because last time that happened, the Tribeca MPV was inflicted on the world. It's all about functionality, hence the big tailgate, raised ride height/seating position and plastic underbody protection.
What's the story beneath the skin?
Naturally, the Forester employs Subaru's trademark four-wheel drive system, split 50:50 front:rear, to get countryfolk to the parts other estate cars can't reach. Subaru has only confirmed Foresters running the 2.5-litre petrol engine. The turbocharged unit currently kicks out 230bhp and 236lb ft, but tweaks will produce more low-end torque and mid-range mettle, claims Subaru. But the big news for Europe is the first Forester diesel. The diesel boxer engine, with a 2.0-litre capacity and outputs of 163bhp and 251lb ft, is being rolled out across the Subaru range, with the Forester in the queue behind the Legacy and Impreza.
What else is new?
A new double wishbone rear suspension design is claimed to boost refinement, handling and crash performance. The chassis is all-new, with the wheelbase extended by nearly 100mm to improve interior space. Side curtain airbags and stability/traction control programmes are standard for the first time.
There is a hill holder to prevent manual models sliding backwards down slippery inclines and the fully integrated satellite navigation system is new (Subaru, what's kept you?). Expect the new Forester to land in the UK in autumn 2008, with a starting price close to the £17,677 2.0-litre model that kicks off the current range.