The Subaru Forester tS - or a version thereof - has been given an official green light for Australia, with a local debut now confirmed for around May or June next year.
The news was revealed today by Subaru Australia managing director Nick Senior during an Australian media drive of the new Levorg wagon in Japan.
As with the Japanese version, just 300 examples will be offered in Australia, although Senior said that securing this model should allow the company to “build on this in future and look at enhancements on other vehicles”.
Launched for the Japanese market in November last year, the Forester tS is about as close to full-blooded STI specification as Subaru’s mid-sized SUV is likely to come, with the famous tuning arm responsible for much of the performance model’s enhancements.
The tS model is built by Subaru alongside regular Forester models, but with 22 additional tweaks made and features installed along the way. The specials are then shipped to STI’s own facility, where a further 28 post-production enhancements are made.
Among those enhancements are 19-inch BBS rims, big WRX STI-sourced brakes, STI-tuned suspension set 15mm lower than standard, an adjustable strut tower brace at the front, transmission oil cooler, and revised ECU and transmission control systems, including a special Sport Sharp mode programmed into the car's SI-Drive control.
On the styling front, there’s unique front and rear lower spoilers, red pinstripes on the black front grille and rear bumper, metallic silver fog light surrounds and lower door mouldings, and a black finish to the side skirts, mirror caps and roof spoiler.
Inside, there’s black leather/suede upholstery with red accents and stitching, a carbon-fibre look to the instrument panel, red-lit climate controls, black pillars and headliner, and STI-branded steering wheel, gear shifter, speedometer and engine start button. Floor mats covered in sound-insulating material are also featured for reduced cabin noise.
There’s a catch to today’s news, however.
In its current Japan-market form, the tS is driven by Subaru’s STI-enhanced 206kW/350Nm turbocharged 2.0-litre boxer engine, with power sent to the all-wheel-drive system through a CVT automatic transmission.
Power is one area where the Australian tS will differ from the Japanese version, however, with the local variant to be driven instead by the 177kW engine that powers the existing XT model (strangely, its 350Nm torque figure is still to be confirmed).
Full Australian specifications, and pricing, will be revealed closer to launch.