Subaru Forester STI Sport revealed, Australia paying attention

Subaru Australia wants to augment its Forester range. Will it go sporty with the STI Sport, rugged with the Wilderness, or take a third path?

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The Subaru Forester has received some STI tuning in Japan, although let’s get one thing straight: it’s not a proper hot SUV like a Volkswagen Tiguan R.

Rather, it’s called Forester STI Sport, and focuses on suspension enhancements and design updates designed to add some incremental fun factor to a sensible family crossover.

What does it offer? Frequency selective dampers up front supplied by Hitachi alongside STI-tuned rear shocks are the main mechanical tweaks, which are said to make the handling more car-like.

Beyond this you get special STI ornamentation, 18-inch aluminium wheels in a new design, a bespoke STI display in the driver’s TFT; a roof spoiler; Nappa leather seats; and red-brown cabin highlights.

The drivetrain is unchanged though, being the Japan-market 130kW and 300Nm 1.8-litre turbo-four with permanent all-wheel drive.

As for its Australian launch, Subaru’s local importer would only say: “We are working closely with the factory on upcoming Special Edition options for the Australian market. We look forward to sharing further details closer to launch”.

What might this promised special edition option be? Subaru Australia has talked at length about wanting tuned-by-STI products in its range, even with the proper WRX STI now a dead duck.

Subaru Australia managing director Blair Read has previously told CarExpert the STI brand “can play a role not just in one model variant, but across all the product”.

But on another end of the spectrum, the Forester STI Sport is not the only special edition of Subaru’s SUV staple outed of late, with the company’s North American division offering the more rugged Forester Wilderness.

Based on the mid-range Premium, the Wilderness has a unique suspension tune and features longer coil springs and shock absorbers. It has 233mm of ground clearance, up 13mm on the rest of the range.

MORE: How Subaru plans to keep STI alive

The AWD’s X-Mode is upgraded and retuned; with the settings for snow, deep snow, dirt and mud allowing for additional wheel slip, and the design has been suitably tweaked inside and out.

As we recently discovered in our medium SUV off-road megatest (3.4 million YouTube views and counting), even the regular Forester is the best-in-class off the beaten path. So a modded off-road-oriented one would be most welcome.

“Whilst there are no immediate plans for Wilderness models in Australia, we are following the progress of the Wilderness editions very closely,” a Subaru spokesperson told us last year.

Regardless, stay tuned for sone variety of Forester edition soon: the big question is, will it be sportier, or better off the beaten path?

MORE: Everything Subaru Forester

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Mike Costello
Mike Costello is the News Editor at CarExpert.

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