New Subaru Forester 2021 detailed: Sport grade adds some spice to Toyota RAV4 and Hyundai Tucson rival

Subaru is poised to pounce on the Toyota RAV4 Edge and Mazda CX-5 GT with a new Forester Sport grade, part of a range-wide makeover expected to be announced soon for the 2021 model year.

While a Subaru spokesman refused to comment on the new edition or any other coming changes made to the popular mid-size SUV from Japan, it is understood that the Sport will launch in the final quarter of this year, and will most likely sit above the popular 2.5i-S variant as a more youthful alternative.

This would put the Sport in the $45,000 ballpark, but will probably undercut the RAV4 Edge, which starts from $48,790 before on-road costs.

Like the latter, the Sport departs from regular Foresters with splashes of colour to differentiate it from its more proletarian siblings, and includes a blacked-out grille, bumper air intake and 18-inch alloys, as well as orange accents for the lower-body region, roof-racks, dashboard extremities, seat stitching, door cards and lower console areas.

Based on the Japanese domestic market X-Break grade announced earlier this year, the Sport equipment levels for Australia are expected to include a sunroof, powered tailgate, leather upholstery and a full suite of driver-assist technologies known as EyeSight in Subaru-speak.

The Sport will also be added as a permanent member of the range.

Note that what you see here is the 2020 Sport sold in other countries, and that – as with all 2021 Foresters – the one landing in Australia will adopt the same minor styling changes to the grille, bumpers, foglights and interior trim as the rest of the range. These should freshen up the Forester’s showroom appeal against a wave of newcomers like the Ford Escape, Hyundai Tucson and Mitsubishi Outlander. Some safety and equipment improvements may also be forthcoming.

That’s the good news though.

Along with inevitable price rises, the bad news is the Sport will – for the time being – offer no performance gains or dynamic improvements over the existing models, meaning that the naturally aspirated EB-series 2.5-litre four-cylinder boxer engine will continue to offer 136kW of power and 239Nm of torque, while driving all four wheels via a continuously variable transmission (CVT) dubbed Lineartronic.

This means a manual gearbox will remain absent from Australian-bound Foresters.

That situation may change later, if the recently-unveiled second-generation Levorg sports wagon’s new 1.8-litre four-pot boxer turbo finds its way into some Forester models, as speculated by Japan’s Best Car Web. This might happen as early as later this year, but whether Australia is slated for such an upgrade remains to be seen.

Speaking of performance Subarus, the S5 (fifth generation) Forester ditched the long-lived turbo variants associated with the series since the original helped establish the compact SUV genre in 1997. Back then, it was known as the Forester GT, replaced by the XT from the second iteration in 2002.

The final version of the latter, available until the new-from-the-ground-up S5 Forester surfaced in late 2018, featured a 2.0-litre boxer turbo delivering 177kW and 350Nm.

We can only hope.

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September 9, 2020 9:02 am Published by