Is this Subaru Forester GT as good as a BMW X1?

The Subaru Forester GT. (Daniel Fernandez pic)

About 10 years ago, if anyone asked this question, they would probably get a barrage of calls and emails from German car owners telling them how silly (being polite here) they were in comparing a German-made crossover to a Japanese-made crossover.

Now, some 10 years later this is a question the global motoring press have been asking and it seems that the reverse has happened.

There are Japanese-made vehicles that are giving the Germans brands a run for their money and readers and vehicle owners are not holding back on their responses.

Yes, the Japanese have caught up, and not recently, about six to seven years ago, many Japanese brands stood up and said that enough is enough and they were ready to take on the “premium” European brands.

Today, many all-Japanese brands are bringing to the market well-built, well-engineered and beautifully put together vehicles that stand equal with premium brands.

They also continue to have a better pricing strategy as the Japanese brands are priced lower and yet offer neck-to-neck features, safety equipment, cabin features and also build quality.

Recently, Subaru launched an all new Forester in three variants in Malaysia. Its top variant comes with class-leading safety features better known as EyesSight.

The Subaru Forester GT comes with EyeSight technology. (Daniel Fernandez pic)

Let us explain ‘EyeSight’

EyeSight® Driver Assist Technology is the culmination of everything Subaru engineers know about safety and Subaru has already sold over one million EyeSight-equipped vehicles.

Adding confidence to every trip, EyeSight monitors traffic movement, optimises cruise control, and warns you if you sway outside your lane. EyeSight has been found to reduce the rate of rear-end crashes with injuries by up to 85%.

When equipped with EyeSight, all tested 2019 Subaru models received the highest possible rating for front crash prevention by IIHS. The Pre-Collision Braking feature can even apply full braking force in emergency situations, helping you avoid or reduce frontal impacts.

To date, more than 85% of Forester buyers in Taiwan and the Philippines, and 55% of buyers in Thailand buy the Forester 2.0i-S Eyesight model since its launch a few months back.

In Malaysia, the take-up rate for the 2.0i-S Eyesight model is said to be at least 30% of the current three variant line-ups as more Malaysian car buyers focus on safety on the road.

The Subaru Forester GT has a front bumper lip extension, side skirts, roof spoiler and rear bumper lip extension. (Daniel Fernandez pic)

So what does the GT Edition have?

The special GT Edition aero kit has four well-made and integrated elements, which give the rugged yet refined Forester a sleeker and even sportier look.

  • Front bumper lip extension
  • Side skirts
  • Roof spoiler
  • Rear bumper lip extension

These are complemented by a set of 18-inch bespoke alloy wheels. It also boasts its own seat-leather design.

Completing the equipment package of the Forester GT Edition is a new 203.2 mm Display Audio System with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, including a Superview Around Recognition 360 System (360° around-view monitor system), that enables drivers to park and manoeuvre with ease.

Nearest premium rival

So, which is the nearest premium rival to this all new Forester? Well, the just-launched 1.5-litre three-cylinder turbocharged BMW X1 is the nearest in terms of looks, features, build and cabin size.

The BMW XI 2020. (Daniel Fernandez pic)

The BMW X1 offers rear passengers about the same room as the Subaru Forester, with comparable head- and legroom. The Subaru Forester offers just a little more front head- and legroom than the BMW X1, offering the driver and front passenger a bit more room and comfort.

The BMW X1 is about the same width as the Subaru Forester, but the BMW X1 is slightly shorter than the Subaru Forester, which may make it easier to park.

Due to its slightly higher torque output of 220Nm from its three-cylinder turbo engine, the BMW X1 is a little quicker than the rest compared to the Subaru Forester which has a normal aspirated 196Nm 2.0L engine. This Subaru has an all-wheel drive system to ensure you stay safe on the tarmac in wet and slippery conditions.

The BMW X1 has significantly less cargo capacity than the Subaru Forester. The X1’s cargo capacity falls short due to its smaller stance.

Off-road capability is good for both vehicles and they each have their ability to take on the rough or Klang Valley floods with ease.

Now comes the price. The BMW X1 at RM208,368 is almost RM31,000 more expensive than the Subaru Forester with EyeSight which sells for RM177,000.

The Subaru Forester GT Edition is offered in seven colours – Crystal White Pearl, Ice Silver Metallic, Jasper Green Metallic, Horizon Blue Pearl, Sepia Bronze Metallic, Dark Grey Metallic and Crystal Black Silica.

The cabin of the Subaru Forester GT affords plenty of space for the passengers inside. (Daniel Fernandez pic)

Driving the GT Edition

The cabin of the Forester is a nice place to be in with plenty of space in front and there is ample room in the rear for three adults.

From ignition it is quiet and the 156bhp Boxer engine works without a fuss as you accelerate hard.

The steering feel is very good and the gearbox works well to provide a decent driving experience.

Subaru’s have always provided a “conti” like drive feel and it continues here. Remove all the Subaru badges and mask this Forester and the average driver will tell you they are in a German-made vehicle after 15 minutes of driving it.

Subaru Forester 2.0i-S EyeSight GT Edition specifications

  • Engine: FB20 16-Valve horizontally-opposed 4-cylinder petrol
  • Capacity: 1995cc
  • Max power: 156hp @ 6000rpm
  • Max torque: 196Nm @ 4000rpm
  • Transmission: Lineartronic CVT
  • Top Speed: 192km/h
  • 0-100km/h:11.8secs
  • Selling Price: RM177,788.

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