Mention Subaru to any average Joe you see, they’ll either be clueless, or the legendary Impreza comes to mind. But Subaru does have more than one card up their sleeves, from the C segment Impreza, to the D segment Legacy, the XV as well as the Forester. I’ll be having a look at the rather new Subaru Forester 2.0XT. How well does it fare? Read on to find out more.

2014 Subaru Forester review -


Name Subaru Forester 2.0 XT (SJ)
Segment Compact Crossover SUV
Engine 1998cc Boxer engine with DIT, turbocharged (240hp)
Price RM206,500

Powering the latest generation Forester is the same engine used in the RWD Subaru BRZ, but turbocharged. A 2.0L Boxer engine with Direct Injection Turbo (DIT) producing 240 horsepower. This new Subaru Forester 2.0XT, codenamed ‘SJ’ is even more powerful than the previous turbocharged Forester 2.5XT. Also new to this engine is that the timing belt has been replaced by a timing chain system, so plus points to reliability there.

2014 Subaru Forester review -

2014 Subaru Forester review -


On the outside, you may not spot much difference from the past generation (SH), but looking closer, sharp eyes will notice that the latest generation (SJ) is sharper than before, and loses the signature hood scoop in the process. The air take for the intercooler is now integrated with the radiator air intake at the grille.

2014 Subaru Forester review -

Other than that, the wheels are also inspired by the Subaru XV’s design, with the same polished black looks with the silver outlines. To some, it can be viewed as unique, but others may not fancy those rims at all. Unlike the JDM units (the Forester is CBU from Japan, but as a European model), DRL LEDs not fitted at the slits along the edge of the bumper. Local models can get the option for the DRLs if the buyer opts for it. The headlights are self-leveling xenon lights with automatic on off.

To be honest, Subarus were never known for their interior. I may even go as far as saying that it looks relatively bland at first glance. However, after driving it for awhile, it does seem like Subaru has done their homework well. There is a Multi-Function Display unit at the center of the dashboard, which shows vital stats, clock, fuel consumption, oil temperatures, boost pressure and radio information.

2014 Subaru Forester review -

As for the audio system, Harmon Kardon supplies the 8 speaker sound system, but the unit I tested, unfortunately did not come with the Harmon Kardon head unit. It is a pity, really, as the all-in-one head unit that was being evaluated in my unit was rather buggy when used. I won’t delve much into the details of the head unit, as it’s still a prototype unit. The sound quality is still good nonetheless. No complaints there at all. Also worth mentioning is that Subaru has included leather seats in this Forester instead of the original fabric seats. I can see the rationing behind this, as it may not be acceptable by the buyers who are paying upwards RM200,000 for a car without leather seats.

The Forester has an integrated reverse camera, to assist you in parking in tight spaces, but what it doesn’t include, is a reverse sensor. Nope, this RM206k Subaru will have to make do with just a reverse camera, without the beeps and that’s not very good. Overall visibility for the Forester from the driver seat is excellent, as blind spots are kept to a bare minimum. The rear split-folding seat can be conveniently folded with a one touch button, or rather a latch. With that, you get an instant boot space for your IKEA goods.

There are four 12V power port strategically placed in the car. One of it is in the arm rest compartment together with a USB port and a AUX port. This is really good when you want to tuck away all cables and gadgets while you are charging them. There are exit holes for your cables as well. Very well thought of. Oh, we love the wide opening sunroof. Your kids will love it too.

Thanks to the 2.0L Boxer engine with Direct Injection Turbo, you’ll be pleased to know that the Forester does the century sprint in a mere 7.5 seconds, which is fast for a SUV. Floor the throttle, let the revs build up, and watch the speedometer climb. Besides the new DIT engine, the SJ series Forester also has a new Lineartronic CVT gearbox which has 3 modes. Intelligent (I) for regular driving, Sport (S) for that extra edge, and Sport Sharp (S#) for when the boyracer mode kicks in.

2014 Subaru Forester review -

Each modes has it own perks, and for most drivers, leaving it in Intelligent will reward you silky smooth cruising. Switching to Sport, throttle response will be sharpened, while Sport Sharp will simulate a conventional automatic gearbox, down to the shift shock. In my opinion, Subaru’s take on their Lineartronic CVT is almost perfect, as it has the modes to cater for almost all users, without sacrificing usability.

Handling isn’t bad at all, since the underpinnings of the Forester can be traced back to the legendary Impreza. Body roll is kept to a bare minimum, and with Subaru’s  Symmetrical AWD system at work, you can be assured that the car will stay on its course when the weather gets challenging. Suspension feel a little hard but it absorbs bumps and potholes really well.

Purists might complain that the Forester has lost its charm considering that the SJ has Electric Power Steering (EPS) instead of the normal hydraulic power steering. It does feel a little light but Subaru has tuned their EPS to be one of the best I’ve driven. Some EPS equipped cars (I’m looking at you, Grand Livina), are awfully dull, and lack of any feedback, but Subaru’s implementation has balanced everything out nicely. The front 12.4″ disc brakes and rear 10″ disc brakes will ensure you can stop right on time, while the ABS and EBD will make sure you won’t be skidding when it gets wet.

On the actual drive itself, it is bigger, taller and wider than most B and C segments that floods our local roads. Think of it as being almost as the king on the road, in terms of size and power. Getting smaller cars out of the way (although not recommended nor encouraged) is a very easy task of just creeping up behind one. Almost all smaller cars will move out of your way. Despite all that, ride comfort is a bit harsh for the passengers, as the Forester can be said as a sports-biased SUV, instead of being family and comfort biased. But that also means that  handling is much better than the competitors, like the Honda CRV and Mazda CX5. The other thing I noticed, is the faces of other people give when I step out of a RM206k SUV. Pretty much all of them will give a rather surprised look, as they would be wondering how can such a young guy be driving such an expensive car. I’m sure they’ll all assume it’s my father’s car.

So, is the Subaru Forester 2.0XT for you? Well, if you want a very comfortable SUV, then please look away. But if you’re looking for a powerful yet nimble handling SUV, then the Forester may just be right for you. Besides, unlike the Honda CRV or the Mazda CX5, the Forester can be said as pretty rare, as I haven’t seen much of this car on our local roads. That could probably be a plus point.

To be really honest, the Subaru Forester, at least locally, has a bad disadvantage in terms of pricing. At slightly above RM200k, it is pricier than its other Japanese competitions. There are a few SUVs in Malaysia to compare it with, but I’ll be comparing it with the nearest competitor in terms of pricing.  The cheaper but very much less powerful non-turbocharged Mazda CX5 as well as a pricier alternative, the Volkwagen Tiguan 2.0TSI.

Mazda CX5 Subaru Forester 2.0 XT Volkswagen Tiguan 2.0 TSI
Type  SKYACTIV-G 2.0L DOHC 16-valve 4-cylinder with VVT DOHC 16-Valve, Horizontally-Opposed,
4-Cylinder, 4-Stroke, Turbocharged, Petrol Engine
2.0L inline four cylinder, 16V, turbocharged / intercooled, TSI
Displacement cc  1998 1998 1998
Bore x Stroke mm  83.5 x 91.2  86 x 86  82.55 x 92.71
Compression Ratio 13.0 10.6 9.6
Max Power hp/rpm  155 / 6000  240 / 5600 210 / 5300-6200
Max Torque Nm/rpm  203 / 4000 350/2400-3600  280 / 1700-5200
Carburetion System  Advanced Direct Injection  Gasoline direct injection  Gasoline direct injection
Fuel Tank Capacity L  58  60 64
Type  Electronic Power Assist Steering (EPAS)  Pinion-assist type electric power steering system  Electronic Power Assist
Transmission  SKYACTIV-Drive 6-speed Sport with manual-shift mode  Lineartronic CVT 7-speed direct shift gearbox DSG
Gear Ratio  1-3.552 2-2.022 3-1.452 4-1 5-0.708 6-0.599 FGR-4.624 R-3.893 D – 3.505 – 0.544 Reverse – 2.345 NA
Type  Front – MacPherson strut with stabilizer barRear – Multilink with stabilizer bar  Front –  MacPherson strut typeRear – Double wishbone type Front – Strut-type with lower control armsRear– Multilink, coil springs
Front  Ventilated disc brakes  Ventilated disc brakes Ventilated disc brakes
Rear   Solid disc brake   Ventilated disc brakes  Solid disc brake
Diameter – Front inches  11.7 12.4 12.3
Diameter – Rear inches  11.9  10 11.1
Tyres  225/65 R17  225/55 R18  235/55 R17
Wheels  Alloy  Alloy Alloy
Overall Length mm  4,555  4,595 4,426
Overall Width mm  1,840  1,795  1,809
Overall Height mm  1670 1,735 1,703
Wheelbase mm  2700  2,640  2,604
Ground Clearance mm  210  220 175
Max Kerb weight kg  1522  1,613  1689
Luggage Capacity (VDA) L  561  1,592 673, Seats Folded – 1588
Grade min. 95 RON min. 95 RON min. 95 RON
Consumption  6.9 L/100 km 8.51 L/100 km 9.9 L/100 km
Max Speed km/h 186 221 213
0 – 100km/h sec 8.9  7.5 7.3
PRICE RM  154,400 206,500 240,000


2014 Subaru Forester review -

When placed beside the Tiguan, it does seem like a bargain considering it packs more horses, a little faster, more torque, more space and cheaper. If I have the budget, I would go for it.






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Eric Goh
A self proclaimed car nut. Enjoys every moment of driving, even better when coupled with some smooth jazz in the background. Weekends are usually spend by fixing and mending his own ride, at home.