Nowadays, it seems like everyone is doing a crossover, but it should be noted that Subaru was one of the first. The Forester was first introduced to the Japanese market in 1997, and a U.S. version emerged hot on its heels only a year later. The advertising theme was simple: “SUV tough, car easy." It’s a formula that’s widely copied: take a vehicle that has car-like handling and road presence and endow it with the spacious interior and high stance of an SUV. It’s an idea that had such wide appeal, the Forester has been going strong ever since.

Now, with an explosion of new crossovers entering the segment, it can be tricky to stay above the fold, even for an original like the Forester. One route that Subaru is familiar treading would be a double down on the vehicle’s “carness” with a high-performance version. Considering the ease with which Subaru can mix and match parts amongst its lineup, the most obvious strategy is to pilfer go-faster bits from its road-legal rally monster WRX STI.

Following teaser pictures that emerged online last month, Subaru has made the official announcement that it’s indeed set to do exactly that. We’ve seen high-performance Foresters before, and for the most part, they aren’t half bad. But with so many different crossovers to choose from, how will this latest version shape up?

Click past the jump to read more about the Subaru Forester tS.

  • 2015 Subaru Forester tS
  • Year:
    2015
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    inline-4
  • Horsepower @ RPM:
    276 (Est.)
  • Displacement:
    2.0 L
  • 0-60 time:
    7 sec. (Est.)
  • Top Speed:
    155 mph (Est.)
  • Price:
    36800
  • Price:
  • car segment:
  • body style:

Exterior

2015 Subaru Forester tS High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
- image 580451

Visually, the tS sets itself apart via several small tweaks that quickly add up to an undeniable improvement over the bland base model. Up front, we find an exclusive black grille touched with a cherry red pinstripe, which hangs above metallic-silver fog-light bezels. Flanking the car are black door mirrors, black side-window moldings, and metallic-silver side cladding moldings. On the rear bumper, there’s another cherry red pinstripe, plus a larger-diameter exhaust tip. Improving upon the standard brick-like aero is an STI-designed front spoiler and rear diffuser, plus another black spoiler attached to the rear roofline. And of course, lest anyone forget, there are plenty of requisite "STI" and "tS" badges covering the front, side, and rear to remind everyone about the premium paid for ownership.

Interior

2015 Subaru Forester tS Interior
- image 580447

Subaru throws the veritable STI catalog at the interior of the tS in a bid to enhance the driver interface. You’ll find the little pink badges everywhere, including the exclusive speedometer, leather-wrapped steering wheel, push-button ignition, shift knob, and door sills. There’s also an exclusive multifunction display, black leather/Ultrasuede combo seats with red stitching, a carbon-laced instrument panel, and silver/black HVAC controls complimented by a red bezel. Assisting the driver in the mundane duties of commuting and errand running, we find Subaru’s EyeSight technology, which features adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, pre-collision braking, and pre-collision throttle management.

Drivetrain and Suspension

2015 Subaru Forester tS Drivetrain
- image 580418

Don’t be fooled: this car may be dripping with pink, but it’s still missing the most vital STI bit under the hood. Like previous models, the latest tS eschews the potent 305-horsepower, 2.5-liter, turbo four-cylinder from the top-range WRX in lieu of the 276-horsepower, 2.0-liter turbo from the JDM-Spec Forester XT.

But while it may lack the extra power of an STI, there are plenty of suspension upgrades to keep the Forester planted on those mountain roads. These include 245/45R19 Bridgestone Turanza ER33 tires mounted to BBS-designed forged aluminum wheels, under which hide 17-inch Brembo brakes that haul down all the mass with 4-pot calipers in the front, and 2-pots in the rear. There’s also an upgraded strut bar, tower bar, draw stiffener in the front and rear, and support subframe, all of which are designed by STI. Additionally, the Forester tS sits 15 mm (.59 inch) lower than the standard model.

In support of all those sporty underpinnings, we find a few electronic assists, like a retuned engine control unit, transmission control unit, and Vehicle Dynamics Control (basically just fancy traction control).

Prices

Apparently, bolting up all those STI parts is not a cheap endeavor, as the new tS will run you 4,350,000 yen, or roughly $36,800, which is $13,000 above the base model and $3,000 above the top-range XT. And although all those suspension upgrades should make the tS handle magnificently, the lack of an STI engine thumping under the hood leaves us apprehensive. If the ride quality is not completely compromised, it might be worth the money.

Competition

Infiniti QX50

2014 - 2015 Infiniti QX50 High Resolution Exterior
- image 526752

Also known as the Nissan Skyline Crossover (*groan*), the QX50 comes with excellent weight distribution, 325 horsepower, wide tires, and a very sleek profile. It’s also quite heavy, weighing in around two tons, which is about 500 pounds more than the Forester. So while the Infiniti is more powerful, it’ll still fall to the Subaru where performance is concerned. Inside, however, the Infiniti wins with luxury. For just a few thousand dollars over the price of the tS, you could get a top-range QX50 with all-wheel-drive, a slew of interior amenities, and a seven-speed automatic transmission. If you’re okay losing the daily school run GP, this might be the right choice for you.

Volvo XC60

2015 Volvo XC60 - Driven High Resolution Exterior
- image 567911

While quite a bit pricier than the Forester, the XC60 makes up for the higher cost with top-notch quality. Stepping up in this segment yields all kinds of premium goodies, like HID headlights, Harmon Kardon audio system, 20-inch alloy wheels strapped with low-profile Pirelli tires, velvety leather, and more. The engine puts out 300 horsepower, which isn’t bad for a car that weights over 4,000 pounds, but clearly, the much more nimble Forester will simply walk away both in a straight line and in the curves. But any XC60 owner won’t care about that. They’ll be too busy with the superb infotainment system to notice.

Conclusion

2015 Subaru Forester tS High Resolution Exterior
- image 580448

It’s not quite an STI, but still, the tS is a smaller, lighter vehicle with a focus on performance, and that’s something that’s definitely missing from the current lineup of overstuffed crossovers. Disappointingly, if you want a tS to call your own, you’ll need to live in Japan and beat out all the other folks clamoring to get their hands on one of the 300 limited production vehicles. That’s pretty unfortunate, because in the US, it would probably be the perfect remedy to all this compact SUV nonsense. What will it take to get a true performance Forester stateside? We’re not sure, but write Congress, just in case that might make a difference.

  • Leave it
    • Wrong engine
    • No manual gearbox
    • Only available in Japan

Press Release

Subaru Tecnica International Inc. (STI)*1 today announced the release of the Subaru "Forester tS", which goes on sale on November 25 through Subaru dealerships in Japan.

2015 Subaru Forester tS High Resolution Exterior
- image 580432

With a development concept focused on creating an on-road vehicle which has a rugged styling, responsive handling performance and quality feel, the Forester tS offers an enhanced version of the driving performance the Forester provides as an SUV, delivering the ultimate in driving enjoyment and pleasure of ownership.

The Forester tS benefits from its own exclusive tuning the "S# (Sport Sharp) mode" for "SI-DRIVE". Driving performance has also been enhanced by the adoption of "brembo" ventilated disc brakes, BBS-designed 19-inch forged aluminum wheels and STI-designed front and rear under spoilers. The exclusively tuned suspension and use of STI’s unique flexible parts mean that, under any conditions, the Forester tS delivers the "strong and nimble" driving feel on which STI prides itself.

The new model comes with distinctive specifications: On the exterior these include the "STI" ornament and cherry red pinstripe on the front grille and rear bumper, while the interior features a speedometer with an STI logo and a carbon-toned instrument panel. Features such as these serve to reinforce the model’s identity as an STI-tuned car, evoking the pleasure of ownership.

2015 Subaru Forester tS Exterior
- image 580433

The Forester tS is equipped with Subaru’s unique driver assist technology, EyeSight*2, and is exclusively tuned to accommodate its lower ride height and brembo-designed brakes. It was also developed with careful attention to noise reduction, employing floor mats covered in sound insulating material, among other measures.

Mechanism

245/45 R19 tires (TURANZA ER33)
BBS-designed 19-inch forged aluminum wheels
Brembo front 17-inch opposed 4-pot ventilated disc brake with STI logo
Brembo rear 17-inch opposed 2-pot ventilated disc brake with STI logo
STI-tuned suspension (15 mm-lower, inverted-strut front suspension)
STI-designed flexible tower bar
STI-designed flexible draw stiffener, front and rear
STI-designed flexible support subframe, rear
Exclusively-tuned ECU (Engine Control Unit)
Exclusively-tuned TCU (Transmission Control Unit)
CVT oil cooler

2015 Subaru Forester tS Interior
- image 580434

■Exterior

Exclusively-made black front grille (with "STI" ornament and cherry red pin stripe)
STI-designed front spoiler/STI-designed rear under spoiler
Black roof spoiler
Exclusively-made large-diameter muffler cutter
Fog light bezels (metallic silver)
Black door mirrors
Black side window moldings
Exclusively-made side cladding moldings (metallic silver)
Cherry red pin stripe on rear bumper
Exclusively-made "STI" ornament, front and rear
Exclusively-made "tS" ornament, side and rear

■Interior

Exclusively-made luminescent speedometer (up to 260 km/h) with STI logo
Exclusively-made multifunction display
Exclusively-made leather lapped steering wheel (quality-feel leather with "STI" ornament and red stitching)
STI-designed push button ignition (red) with STI logo
STI-designed leather lapped gear knob with STI logo
Exclusively-made seats (black leather/black punching Ultrasuede® combination seats [red stitching and red accents])
Door trims (black punching Ultrasuede®/black Ultrasuede® with red stitching)
Carbon-toned instrument panel
AC controls comprising silver dials and piano black-toned switches with red bezel
Black interior (trims on pillars, roof, and window sills)
Exclusively-made side sill plate with STI logo

2015 Subaru Forester tS Interior
- image 580435

■Safety Equipment

Exclusively-tuned EyeSight
Exclusively-tuned VDC (Vehicle Dynamics Control)

Marketing
Maximum 300 units (must be preordered by April 5, 2015)

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