Starting to get disturbing signals about the new 2014 Forester

There is a little bit of bad news starting to filter through about the new Forester. Now that Subaru’s fourth generation Forester is in the country and ‘real’ test drivers are taking them for test drives there are some disturbing notes coming through.

Yes. The 2014 Forester is in the country. You can go and see a black XT model at City Subaru in Victoria Park if you are so inclined—and live in Perth, Western Australia.


First, on the upside, the two Australian reviews I have read have commented that the cabin noise in the new Forester really has been reduced, as claimed by Subaru in their press releases. This is a big issue for me because the cabin noise in my second generation MY2005 XT Forester at touring speeds is bad. Conducting a conversation with someone else in the car when travelling at 110 kph requires you to shout.

Interestingly the current model Forester rates better than the outgoing Toyota RAV4 model for cabin noise. I can only assume the cabin noise at speed in the outgoing RAV4 model was really bad. Sadly Subaru did not work on this problem in the third and current generation Forester so it is just as bad. But everyone seems to agree this has been addressed in the 2014 model.

Also, both reviews I have found were impressed with the performance of the fourth generation Forester. Even the non-turbo 2.5 got a good rap compared to the performance of the current model 2.5 (which is renowned for being very tardy). This is probably down to the CVT transmission more than anything. The CVT eliminates any loss introduced by the torque converter and also ensures the engine speed to gear ratio is always almost perfect.

The 2.0 litre twin-scroll turbo in the new 2014 Forester gets it from 0 to 100 in just over six seconds, making it easily the quickest SUV in its class.

But sadly, it seems, based on the two Aussie reviews I have come across so far, this new fourth generation Forester has the same rolly-polly over-soft suspension that the current Forester is afflicted with. To use the words of the reviewer at Autoblog, he found that the new Forester had very little of the second generation’s “tweaker personality” and that the ride and handling were much like the soft pillow-like feeling of the current model Forester.

It was even mentioned that anyone who had gone back and bought a second generation Forester after test driving the current model are probably not going to like this latest model.

That’s me. That is exactly what I did. When I ‘upgraded’ from my previous MY2005 because it was getting too many kilometres on it I ended up buying another MY2005 (with less kilometres on it). When I test drove the current model XT I hated the rolly-polly road feel, or, should I say, almost total lack of road feel.

Sob. This is rather depressing. I have really been looking forward to this new model. Unlike a lot of the people on the various Subaru forums who are putting a lot of hate on the CVT transmission I am a fan of CVTs. Also Subaru’s CVT has won a number of awards. I was not even worried about the turbo engine dropping down from the current 2.5 litre to the smaller 2.0 litre—which seems to have upset a lot of Subaru Forester buyers on the forums. But for me the rolly-polly suspension, if it is as bad as the current model, would be a deal breaker.

Interesting Update >>>

As I trawl for more information about the new fourth generation Forester I came across some interesting information on the Edmunds site (here). They took the Forester for a test drive and loved it saying that of all the SUVs the new Forester is the car to buy. But that was not the interesting bit.

They say that the new twin-scroll 2.0 litre turbo is optimised for 93 octane and not 95 like the current model XT.

But even this is not the really interesting part.

The really interesting part is that they say that while 93 octane is required for optimum performance the new engine will run perfectly on anything down to 87 octane although with this octane rating there will be a 10 percent performance loss.

Assuming this is true then that means this engine should run mighty fine on 91 octane—which is the octane rating of regular unleaded in Australia. Premium unleaded is 95 octane here and is 11 to 12 cents a litre more expensive (about 52 cents extra an imperial gallon). Assuming the performance loss is linear then running on 91 octane should only result in about a 3 percent performance loss. For an engine putting out 250 hp  that would reduce it to around 242 hp which is still better than my current MY2005 XT.

I think Edmunds are in the US. What I have to hope for now is that the Foresters coming to Australia are tuned the same way and can also run without issues on 91 octane.

Small Correction >>>

I am told the 2014 Forester at City Subaru is not black. It is a dark purple colour that looks black in bright sunlight.

I wonder if Subaru is using some paint provided by Toyota? I recall a Toyota Prado that colour—purple that looked black in sunlight. In the Toyota colour chart the colour was a kind of cool purple but then when you see the Prado in the car yard it is black.


Subaru release online brochure for 2014 Forester

For anyone excited about or interested in the soon-to-be-released 2014 Forester, Subaru have released a nine screen online brochure. Click the following picture to open the brochure in your browser. The brochure takes 10 seconds or so to load up when you first click on it.


As you can see it is really formatted for wide screen viewing, but it can be viewed on a ‘square’ 4:3 screen without problems. Click on the arrows at the side to turn the pages.

Also the brochure is obviously mainly for American consumption because it is the left hand drive version of the car featured in the pictures.

If you have missed previous posts of mine on the 2014 Forester then it is due for release across Australia on the 1st of February.

Anyone who signed up with Subaru for a test drive as soon as it was available (I provided that link in a previous posting) should have been contacted by their local Subaru dealer by now. I have. They wanted to know which model I was interested in test driving so they could schedule in all the requests they have had. But at this stage I have not heard back as to when exactly that will be.

What we do find out in the brochure that I have not been able to find out anywhere else is the economy of the 2.0 litre twin-scroll turbo in the XT version of the new Forester.

As you can see from the following snippet from the brochure, indicated by my hand drawn red arrow, the XT turbo gets 27 mpg highway.


Now this is where it gets tricky. This brochure is for the American market. So the gallons referred to here are almost certainly American gallons, which are smaller than Australian gallons. An American gallon contains 3.8 litres whereas an Australian gallon contains 4.56 litres.

Hmmmmm. Tricky this.

So, assuming that the 27 mpg referenced is based on American gallons then that is going to work out to 8.71 litres/100 klms.

If it were using regular gallons as used by the rest of the world then it would work out to 10.46 litres/100 klm.

I am pretty confident that the former is the right assumption and that the highway mileage for the 2.0 litre turbo is 8.71 litres/100 klm, or for those that prefer mpg that would be 32.43 mpg.

But, as impressive as this is, look at the economy of the 2.5 litre non-turbo. It gets 32 mpg US. That works out to 7.35 litres/100 klms or, in regular gallons, 38.4 mpg!! Pretty amazing for an all wheel drive SUV.

The other thing we learn from this brochure is that there appears to be a new red coloured Forester called “Venetian Red Pearl” (see page 7 of the brochure). We also find out the that blue coloured Forester that has been featured in almost all other pictures we have seen is called “Marine Blue Pearl”. I wonder if all the new colours, assuming there are others, also end in ‘Pearl’?

If anyone else has found more about the 2014 Forester somewhere on the Web then let me know by e-mail or in a comment so I can do a post about it.

Now if I could just win the lotto.


R2D2 heels featured on ‘addictedtoheels’ site

I got an e-mail yesterday from a friend, of which I don’t have many, that my posting about the R2D2 custom hand painted heels my son arranged for his girlfriend as a Christmas present had been featured on ‘addictedtoheels’.

For those that missed my posting about this you can find it here.

For anyone interested in checking out the featured posting at ‘addictedtoheels’ it can be found by clicking the banner picture below.


The posting at ‘addictedtoheels’ does not say much but it is marginally exciting to have a posting from my site picked up and featured on another site. At this stage it does not seem to have brought me many more unique visitors but maybe it will eventually.

With ‘addictedtoheels’ featuring my post it is possible some of the other hundreds of high heels fetish sites around the Web may have reposted this posting from them. Most of these sites repost each others posts. If you find this reposted on other sites please let me know by posting a comment.


Some Christmas presents just take a little more work

Most likely this Christmas most guys bought their girlfriends a Christmas present, or two, or three. Going on the news that many retailers around Perth ran out of tablet devices and the more popular models of smartphones I suspect a lot of girlfriends got a new tablet or smartphone, or both, for Christmas.

r2d2heels-01I got my wife a Samsung Galaxy S3 smartphone so I did my bit for retail over Christmas. We haven’t managed to get it working yet. Needs a new ‘micro’ SIM. The old regular sized SIM won’t fit. My son offered to trim it down to fit the micro SIM slot using scissors, and assured me it would actually work, but I declined. So we are taking the four or five day path via Telstra to get a new micro SIM. Sigh!

But this posting is not about smartphones or SIMs. It is about my son and one of the presents he organised for his girlfriend for Xmas.

I have no idea how he found out about it but somehow he found out that there was a girl in Adelaide doing some art course at University that hand painted shoes to make a bit of extra loot. Her (very basic) business card says “custom designed, hand painted”.

Having found this out, probably via someone online from all the games he plays, he embarked on a project to get some heels painted with an R2D2 (from Star Wars) theme as a special Xmas surprise for his girlfriend.

So just to outline this project into its roll-ups (it’s okay, I am an IM Project Manager and I know what I am doing) this project outlines something like this:

  • Engage Service Provider (this is code for, tell the girl in Adelaide you really want her to do this for you before Xmas so you can give these shoes as a Xmas present).
  • Source the materials (code for, find the shoes needed and purchase them).
  • Deliver materials to Service Provider (code for, get the shoes from vendor to service provider).
  • Develop the Service Request and raise ticket to Service Provider (code for, describe what needs to be done, reach agreement on what needs to be done, and then get Service Provider to do it).
  • Have Service Provider dispatch final product.

ZU-Shoes-01The timeline from Go/NoGo (i.e., committing to execute the project) and delivery of the painted shoes in time for Xmas was three weeks. In this three weeks he had to find shoes he liked that he could be reasonably sure the girlfriend would like and that were also suitable for painting. Next to get them to the artist who then required time to paint them, give them suitable drying time, box them up, and get them to Kalamunda—in time for Xmas.

As an added handicap he had to do most of this while away working in a new job. Much of it had to be arranged via e-mail and SMS from a smartphone in a motel room.

After a couple of days of looking for the ‘right’ pair of shoes he chose ZU brand heels in the Dusk style, shown above. Plenty of space for painting.

After purchasing the shoes from ZU he got them delivered to Loren at ‘Beauty for the Geek’ so they could be painted. Now came the difficult work for Loren of fitting an R2D2 design onto the shoe. From what I gather there were a number of Photoshop examples exchanged before the final design was locked in.

All this time the Xmas day clock is ticking.

Well between them they made it. The custom one-of-a-kind hand-painted heels arrived in time for Xmas with a couple of days to spare.

Following are some pictures of the girlfriend unwrapping her surprise Xmas present.




The first ever try on . . .



Yep. The ankle straps need some more holes punched in them. I am sure my son will take care of that without any problems.

To finish off following are a couple of set-up pictures I took the next day.




‘Beauty for the Geek’ don’t have a Web site but if you want to find out more about custom hand-pained shoes you can check out their Facebook page by clicking on any of the last three pictures above.

All of the pictures above, plus some bonus extra pictures, have been posted in a larger size (mostly 1000y) and higher resolutions in the Abalook folder on my Smugmug site which can be found here. You will need a password to enter this site and the password is “brightblueheels”. Don’t forget hover over the picture and select Original  from the size options in order to see the pictures in their full size and resolution.


Subaru Australia puts up the Gen4 2014 Forester on their site

Subaru Australia has put up the new 2014 Forester on their site. Both of the following images link over to the Australian Subaru site directly into the Forester release page.


I like that colour. I hope that is an actual available colour and not just a photo-shopped colour for the purposes of advertising.

Reports from Japan, where the new Forester is in pre-order, say that Subaru are receiving four times the predicted number of orders for this new fourth generation version of the world’s most popular SUV. Based on this Subaru have increased factory outputs by 40 percent.

However you don’t have to be a genius to work out that if orders are coming in at four times the expected rate just for Japan and they are only able to increase production by 40 percent that there is going to be shortfall against orders. Especially as the USA pre-orders open sometime in late January. I just hope that we in Australia don’t see delivery times for new Foresters push out by up to ten months like they have for the highly popular BRZ.

This next panel is interesting.


You might be wondering why it is interesting.

It is interesting because it clearly states, and remember this came from the Subaru Australia site, that the XT turbo model has a 2.0 litre engine. This invalidates a review in Saturday’s West Australian from the 1st of December where the writer, Steve Lague, indicated that the XT turbo in Australia would be a 2.5 litre engine.

Seems he got this wrong. This panel clearly states the XT turbo is the 2.0 litre turbo released in Japan and about to be released in the USA. This is the entirely redesigned internal cam drive direct injection 2.0 litre engine used in the BRZ, but it is upgraded and has a twin-scroll turbo bolted on. This twin-scroll turbo engine puts out 268 horsepower in Japan but has to be de-tuned to 250 horsepower for import to Australia (sadly).

What I am waiting for now are Subaru’s official economy numbers, which they still have not released, and the pricing. US-based reviews are saying the economy of the 2.0 litre turbo is almost 20 percent better than the 2.5 litre it replaces. If these numbers hold up then the mixed average economy numbers should work out to around 8 litres/100 klm (because the current 2.5 litre has a mixed average of 10.1 litres/100 klm).


2014 Forester: Seen in Saturday’s West Australian

Finally the Australian press has picked up the new Subaru Forester due to be released in Australia in February next year. There was a feature article in this weekend’s (1-2nd December) West Australian newspaper.


The article was by Steve Lague and I nearly wasn’t going to bother reading it. After all, I have read just about everything published anywhere on the Web that I could find. Every day I Google and Bing for any new news about the 2014 Forester. Every day. Never miss. What could I possibly not know?

But it was just as well I didn’t have too much to do while I was eating the chopped rock melon my thoughtful wife picked up for me from Woolworths because there were five interesting bits of information in Steve’s article that I had not come across anywhere else.

The first was that, going on how the article was written, Steve has actually test driven the new Forester—which is not that exciting in itself—but, he test drove it in Australia. This was the first time I had come across any reports of the the new Forester actually already being in Australia and being test driven here.

The next bit of information Steve provided that I had not seen before was that the towing rating of the 2014 Foresters have been uprated, with the petrol version being uprated by 50 percent from 1,000kg to 1,500 kg. This is sort of good news because the Forester has always been pretty average when it comes to towing anything hefty but this massive uprating, presuming it is ‘real’, means it could be used to tow a good sized pop-up camper trailer with relative ease. I suspect this comes about due to the hi-torque CVT transmission being stronger than the aging (really old, actually) Subaru 4 speed automatic it is replacing.

The third bit of new news is that for Australia there is going to be a diesel engine version of the 2014 Forester. The diesel version is only going to be available with the new six speed manual transmission. The towing rating of the diesel engine version has been uprated to 1,800 kg.

Fourth, Steve tells us that for the Australian market the turbo XT model will have a 2.5 litre engine and not the 2.0 litre engine used in the Japanese and American models. Now this sort of confuses me. Why would Subaru not release the 2.5 litre turbo into the US? The American’s love larger motors. I was wondering, maybe, if Steve has got this wrong. Nothing else anywhere even mentions that there might be a 2.5 litre option. So then one wonders, well I did anyway, that if there is going to be a 2.5 litre turbo then is it a twin-scroll turbo like the 2.0 litre turbo engine is? Will there be two XT models? One with the 2.0 litre twin-scroll and one with the 2.5 litre linear late-start turbo. But then why have two turbo models? This is very confusing. I will have to watch out for more about this.

Finally, for the first time I saw a firm date of release for the Australian market. Assuming Steve has this right, and he is quoting Nick Senior from Subaru so you would expect he has got it right, the 2014 Forester will hit the market in Australia on Friday the 1st of February.

It will be interesting to see if tomorrow’s Sunday Times carries anything on the new Forester. Often with new car releases an article turns up in the Saturday weekend paper and then the Sunday Times has an article about it as well. You can be sure I will blog it if there is something in tomorrow’s paper.


2014 Subaru Forester on show at LA Motor Show in the US

Subaru have the new Subaru Forester on show at the LA Motor Show currently on in the USA.


I have written about many of the features of the new Forester in previous posts including the 18” wheels, the direct-injection twin-scroll internal-cam-drive 2.0 litre 250 hp engine (in the USA XT model), the high-torque 8-speed column paddle shift Lineotronic CVT transmission, and the slightly overall larger size.

There is a wee hope that Australia buyers might even get an option of the even quicker Japanese market version of the direct-injection twin-scroll engine that develops 268 hp. This might be available as an up-market option; maybe. But we probably won’t know that until this new Forester is actually released here around February or March next year. Then what they might do is not release the 268 hp version until later in the year, or even until the next year. Thereby ‘forcing’ dedicated buyers to upgrade once again within 12 to 18 months. Sneaky . . .

The few test drive reviews I have found have given the new Forester high points for road handling (partially due to the 3.5 cm lower centre of gravity), much improved suspension compared to the current model, and significantly lower cabin noise both from road noise and wind noise.

SubaruRunningSome reviewers have picked on Subaru’s LED-tube style always-on running lights that sort of wrap around the headlight cluster. One reviewer even referred to them as ‘corny’ and said they should have been put below the headlight cluster in a strip or even below the grill as an inverted “L”.

Always-on LED running lights are now mandatory safety items in some European countries on all new model cars and I understand they are thinking of making them mandatory on new cars in Australia.

The theory of always-on running lights is that they make cars ‘more visible’, even in daylight, and thereby help to prevent accidents. This is supposed to be especially so when open-road driving and overtaking.

It is hard to tell what these running-lights really look like until you see them for real, but based on this picture they look okay to me.

Many MY05 model Forester owners did not upgrade to the current model due to the very soft rolly-polly suspension but from all reports Subaru have definitely fixed this. They have tightened the body by 150 percent (so the reviews say) and at the same time reworked the entire suspension system to give the car back its sporty edge sure-footed road feel.

It could happen that I will be very disappointed when I actually get to test drive it, but I have to say, at this stage I am still excited. The three or four months wait until it hits the showroom floors in Australia is going to be a long wait.


2014 Forester: 0 – 100 in 6.2 seconds, 8.4 l/100 klms

There is a lot more information starting to come out about the new 2014 Forester now.


The Australian Subaru site even has a front-page teaser for the new Forester (shown below, click to go to page).


Judging from the colour of the Forester in the teaser it looks like there could be some new colours. I sure hope so because the current colour range is basically five greys, two whites, two blacks, and a red-ish wine colour.

According to one report (here at MotorTrend) the new twin-scroll turbo direct-injection 2.0 litre XT model can get the car to 100 kph in 6.2 seconds, which makes it 1.2 seconds faster than the 2.5 litre turbo current model. According to Subaru this make the Forester the quickest SUV in that market segment and faster than many performance sedans.

Another trick of the new twin-scroll 2.0 litre turbo is that, apparently, according to two articles I have now read, it will run happily on standard octane petrol although 93 octane or above is recommended. This is different to the current 2.5 litre turbo where, as anyone who has tried it will know, it is not an option to run on petrol with an octane value lower than 95. You HAVE to use high octane or the engine runs very badly.

It seems, from the reports I have found, running on 93 octane or higher the new turbo Forester achieves highway fuel economy of 8.4 litres/100 kilometres. Subaru claim this makes the Forester the most economical SUV in its class.

This is much better than the 10.1 litres I am currently getting in my 2005 2.5 litre turbo. Even based on something like 8.8 (because you never get what the brochure says) then this is going to save me about 35 litres per month which, at the current cost of 95 octane fuel, is a saving of about $60 per month for petrol. If premium petrol gets to $1.80 a litre by next June as expected then the savings will be even better.


The new Forester is slightly larger overall compared to the current model. Compared to my 2005 model I think there is going to be about 4” more leg room in the front and 3.5” in the back.

Also the two reviews I have read have made a big thing of the steering power assist now being applied via the rack and not via the column. It seems this is usually a feature only found on more expensive vehicles and is a much better way to provide power-assisted steering. Personally, I have no idea really what the difference is and why rack-assisted power steering would be better.

I am not too sure why they would bother but it seems the tailgate is now also power-assisted and can be opened (and presumably closed) via controls in the cabin.

The CVT transmission has three modes: regular mode, Sports mode, and S-Sharp mode. Sports mode simply has a different computer program for the ranges which provides a more powerful ratio slide going up, and better braking slides coming down. The S-Sharp mode (written as S#) provides fake gear-shift ratios so the CVT ‘feels’ to the driver more like a traditional automatic with actual gears—even though it does not have any.

We are also told the cargo area is 12 percent larger. Not that, lately anyway, I have been using the cargo area for anything much more than putting all my luggage and crap in to cart back and forth to the ‘mine’ each week.

The roof height of the new Forester is higher than the current model and the seating position for all occupants is higher. Even so, the overall centre-of-gravity has been dropped by over three cm. The Forester already had the lowest centre of gravity of all the popular SUVs and now they have dropped it further—thereby providing and even more sedan-like ride on the open road.

To help even more with the sedan-like ride the wheel track is 0.8 of an inch wider and, praise be to the Lord, Subaru have reduce cabin noise significantly.

So far this Forester is ticking all my boxes. I guess the big question remaining is: How much in Australia? The turbo version is going to be about $22,000 in the USA so applying the old two times factor (even though our dollar is worth more than theirs; how does that work out) that usually applies here then the Australian price is going to be around $44,000. I hope I have room on the mortgage.


A little more about the 2014 Subaru Forester

We now know a tiny little bit more about the 2014 Subaru Forester due for release in Australia in February next year.


It is looking like the twin-scroll 2.0 litre turbo model, the model I am interested in, will come with two gearbox options. Both options are Subaru’s award winning smart-V chain linked CVT gearboxes.

It seems there will be no fully manual gearbox option available with the turbo model (shown above).

The CVTs are both column paddle operated sequential shift. There will be the ‘standard’ six speed CVT and an upgrade option will be an eight speed ‘performance’ CVT. From what I can put together from the bits and pieces I can find the so called performance CVT will provide two overdrive ratios—as do many up-market turbo-boosted European cars such as Audi. If this is the case then the Forester with the performance CVT is likely to have much improved petrol consumption numbers when touring on the open road.

The other adjustment in the performance CVT gearbox is assumed to be a different spread in the 2nd and 3rd lock ratios to allow an additional lock ratio to be inserted.

The other bit of data we have is that the turbo model will have 18” wheels.

The final bit of new information I have found is that the centre of gravity is a full 3.5 cm lower than the previous model. This may not sound like much but dropping the centre of gravity by 3.5 cm in an SUV can make a lot of difference to ride and corner handling; dependant on other suspension characteristics.

The Forester already had the lowest centre of gravity of all of the genuine SUVs (e.g., X-Trail or RAV-4). This is mainly due to the boxer motor which sits very low in the engine bay due to its flat boxer-engine configuration. Lowering the centre of gravity by a further 3.5 cm is going to make it even harder for the competition to achieve the almost sedan-like driving experience of the Forester SUV.

This lowering of the centre of gravity will be partially due to the overall lowering of the body from 8.9 inches to 8.7 inches (two tenths of an inch lower than the current model). Another contributing factor will be the 2.0 litre motor compared to a 2.5 litre motor in the current XT Forester. Also the front-mount turbo intercooler likely lowers the centre of gravity compared to the existing intercooler which basically sits on top of the engine.

The number one thing I hope Subaru have worked on is the road noise in the cabin but at this stage I cannot find out anything about this. While cabin noise was improved a bit in the current model the Forester still has one of the noisiest cabins of all the popular SUVs at 110kph on the open road.

Man, February 2013 seems like it is so far away . . . not that I can actually afford to upgrade. Looks like I will be adding to the house mortgage.


Getting excited: New Forester only three months away

I must admit I am getting a little excited about the new Forester. I have not got excited about the release of a new car for many many years. Probably since I was in my 20s. But the new Forester has a hi-tech CVT transmission, and that is exciting. It also has Subaru’s re-designed internal chain drive cam 2.0 litre twin-scroll turbo.

This little 2.0 litre motor is going to put out 250 horsepower which is 18 more horsepower than the turbo 2.5 litre motor in my current 2005 XT Forester.

If Subaru get this right then the CVT combined with the 2.0 litre engine should give much better fuel economy while at the same time providing a great driving experience.


On top of this the new Forester has 8.7” of ground clearance and the turbo cooler is the front mounted style so there is no turbo hump on the bonnet.

I just hope that Subaru have done something about the horridly soft rolly-polly suspension that they have in the current model Forester. I am sure they will have because they got so much flack from Forester fans about that suspension.

I also hope they introduce a couple more colours that are not new shades of black, grey, or white.

You can be sure I will be checking almost daily for new information about the 2014 Forester which is due for release in the USA at the end of November.