The highly-rated Subaru Forester has received mild exterior changes, a new interior that complements its symmetrical AWD system and will be exhibited at the upcoming Paris Show.

By Paul Simmons

The highly-rated Subaru Forester has received mild exterior changes and a new interior that complements its symmetrical AWD system.

The new Forester 2,5 XT, which will be unveiled in Paris, will be offered with a manual transmission and an extensive list of standard equipment, including black leather interior trim, satellite navigation, a seven-speaker audio system and six-disc CD player.

The softer interior touches include: 12-spoke alloy wheels, aluminium door kick-plates, Momo steering wheel, silver-rimmed instruments, steering-wheel mounted radio controls and new deeply-sculptured sports front seats. But, to appease performance aficionados, the Forester also shows off its most powerful engine - the 157 kW turbocharged 2,5-litre four-cylinder boxer.

The new 2,5-litre version takes the SUV's performance to new heights. Top speed for the 2,5 XT is a claimed 225 km/h and the zero to 100-km/h time drops to about six seconds. Mid-range torque has been increased to a maximum of 320 N.m and the braked towing limit has been raised to a two tonnes. The Forester's high and low-ratio gearbox is carried over as is the rear limited-slip differential, full-time symmetrical all-wheel drive and self-levelling rear suspension.

Engine upgrades to enlarge the horizontally-opposed four cylinder 2,0 litre 'boxer' engine to 2,5 litres were extensive. Subaru has used a semi-closed deck cylinder block for added smoothness, strengthened pistons and connecting rods, sodium-filled hollow exhaust valves to improve cooling and hollow camshafts for lightness and efficiency. Both the bore and stroke are enlarged - now standing at 99.5 x 79 mm instead of 92 x 75 mm.

The Forester XT's active and passive safety systems include electronic brakeforce distribution (EBD), four-channel, four-sensor anti-lock brakes and large-diameter ventilated front and rear discs.

Active front head restraints reduce the risk of whiplash injuries and the passenger airbag is dual-stage, allowing progressive protection during less severe impacts and total deployment in a more serious crash. Large side-airbags are also standard, protecting both the torso and head. The Forester's body was strengthened with high-tensile steel panels with tailored blanks in key impact areas. Those combine strength with good energy-absorbing properties, especially during side-impacts. All pillars are reinforced with new ring-shaped subframes (the front is claimed to be 60 per cent stronger than that of the pre-2003 model).

Aluminium is used extensively in the front and rear bumper beams, bonnet, roof rails and sunroof frames, keeping down weight yet performing well in offset impacts.

Original article from Car