One of South Africa’s most under-appreciated SUVs, the Subaru Forester, has received a mid-life update to celebrate the company’s 30th year in South Africa. 

For three decades, Subaru South Africa has surprised and delighted the brand’s loyal customers with legendary motorcars such as the Impreza, Legacy, Outback, and its inimitable star SUV, the Forester. Five generations down the line, the Forester is more car than ever, boasting an updated look that is available in four derivatives, including the 2.0-litre and 2.5-litre variants in their respective Sport and Premium trims and specifications. 


The most significant exterior design changes have taken place at the front of the vehicle. A larger, hexagonal grille takes centre stage with a reduced headlight design. The grille and front bumper now incorporate more black elements around the redesigned headlight and foglamp clusters. The reworked headlights now include an array of LED bulbs for improved driver vision as part of the Forester Adaptive Headlamps and High Beam Assist features. On the Forester Sport, the fog lamps are six-bulb LED units in black housing, while the Premium Forester shows off three chromed horizontal pieces for a more urban finish. 

Down the Forester’s flanks, the mirror caps, A and B-pillar covers, as well as the rear spoiler and tailgate finishes, have all been upgraded, with model-specific exterior mirror caps. The new Forester sits on redesigned 17” alloy wheels on the base model, with an upgrade to 18” alloys on the higher specced models. 

Inside the Forester Sport derivative, the orange and black theme has been tweaked by removing the orange splashes on the air vent surrounds. However, the coloured stitching remains and contrasts with the Sport’s dark grey colour scheme and water repellent seats. 


Although Subaru hasn’t changed the current engine line-up, the front suspension has been tweaked to improve steering responsiveness, ride quality and handling by reworking the coil springs and dampers. Noise, vibration, and harshness NVH levels are said to have improved as well, thanks to the Forester’s new aluminium engine mount brackets.

Most famous for their legendary all-wheel-drive system, Subaru’s X-Mode smart all-terrain programme has been updated with improved Hill Descent Control speed management. This simply means that the driver may accelerate on the descent if they so wish, with the system re-engaging Hill Descent Control when the driver eases up again. Another tweak allows X-Mode to re-engage at slower than 35 km/h even after the system has dis-engaged beyond that speed, meaning less intervention by the driver to re-engage the system if the all-terrain environment requires it. X-Mode is available on all Subaru Forester models. 


Also, a more advanced version of EyeSight Driver Assist Technology has been added, delivering all-around improvement under a more comprehensive array of conditions and environments. Subaru explains that its new dual-camera system has a much wider field of view, and, together with improved software, the system is faster and more intuitive, working to deploy the various EyeSight safety functions such as Adaptive Cruise Control, Automatic Pre-Collision Braking, Lane Departure and Sway Warning with even better precision. The system now works with better efficiency at intersections, where accidents frequently occur.

EyeSight 4.0 boasts three new technologies that add active steering inputs to its repertoire. These include Active Lane Centring to keep the vehicle in the centre of the lane, Lane Departure Prevention that works to keep the car in its lane by actively steering back into the correct lane, and Autonomous Emergency Steering (AES). AES works as an accident prevention system that will steer the vehicle autonomously to avoid an accident, whether with a pedestrian, another vehicle, or a cyclist. 

Autonomous Emergency Steering may also activate the Forester’s emergency braking function, should the system calculate that braking applied by the driver is not adequate to reduce the severity of a collision.

EyeSight-equipped Foresters also include Blind Spot Detection technology with Lane Change Assist and Rear Cross-Traffic Alert as standard features. Reverse Automatic Braking is also included on EyeSight-equipped models, a system that uses sensors to detect objects and can automatically stop the vehicle if the driver does not take evasive action in time while reversing. 


Already a shining example of versatility, the roof rails on the upgraded Forester have been strengthened and redesigned to carry more weight for roof-top tents, among other purposes. Additional tie-down locations have also been integrated into the rails, and two extra utility hooks have been added to the roof of the rear cargo area.


With their acclaimed Boxer engines and class-leading Symmetrical All-Wheel-Drive, the Subaru name is synonymous with uncompromising technical proficiency. Few other models embody this more than the Forester. There is a reason why it remains the local subsidiary’s most successful model, and while the brand may have lost some of its market share during its heyday in the early 2010s, the Forester will continue to find appeal with customers who choose the innovation, versatility, and safety that the Subaru brand offers.

Look out for an in-depth review of the new Forester in the April edition of Driven.





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