Once in a while, we goof up and realize something that has been around for years. Something like a forester – a person who has the job of managing forests. Yes, it’s true. Same goes for the Forester, we didn’t realize that it has been around for over 20 years.
The latest generation: SJ, is quite a different car from the first gen, the SF. The SF was considered more of a “crossover”, while the Forester has arguably grown to be more of a “compact SUV”. What the CrossoverWRXSUV? We’ll try to figure that out, once we have cracked the mysterious four-door coupe design.
Back to this, the SG. Quite possibly the most behaved off-road capable SUV for the road, with the potential to go crazy on power and scare unsuspecting people. And unlike the direct competition from Japan, the Forester can be easily be modified for some fun time at the track as well – since it’s probably the only car to share parts with a high-performance family member.
The last Forester we featured could bash through the forest and go “mudding”. While lowering a Forester is a relatively simple job, as it turns out, lifting it is not as easy as it seems, with plenty of suspension rework to be done.
Lowering is, dependent on how much fun you want to have on the track. Here, we find a nice “general purpose” setup on the suspension, with coilovers and stiffer sway bars. Beefier brakes and rotors? Why, yes…
After buying this car in poor condition (but at a real steal), the entire engine was dropped and fitted with a new lease of life. New forged pistons, crankshaft, bearings and the head gaskets were fitted within the block. Now these meant the engine could accept a re-tuned turbo setup, which flows better with a new intercooler, pipes and filter combination.
Without going into the “crazy” realm of modifications, the focus shifted to making the engine respond better to the power surge. Sticking to the stock injector serving size, and a bit of tuning magic, the tired ol’ Forester gained a healthy amount of healthpoints, and sounded a lot meaner too!
With his love for long speedy drives and rummaging through the same WRX parts bin, a chirpier blow-off valve and an exhaust system restores some of the magical boxer rumble. Completing the upgrades were an oil cooler, as well as a new thicker core radiator.
It did not go entirely smoothly as far as his modification journey is concerned, encountering a couple of hiccups along the way. Fortunately, the EJ20/EJ25 platform has been around for quite a while, and has been worked on countless times over the past decade – albeit with the engine inside a four-door sedan instead of a SUV.
The interior sports some nice touches to boost this SUV’s potential. An authentic STI Gear knob, and uh, original Recaro SR3 from a STI? Still, it will come as little surprise that the trump points of the Forester: Hugely practical, with rear seats generous enough to fit three plus sized adults in comfort.
As the COE axe begins to drop on many of the “SG” Foresters, performance SUVs are sadly a quickly shrinking market niche. The SJ does win some points back with an engine from the latest WRX (albeit, smaller), a Sport Lineartronic CVT transmission and a symmetrical all-wheel drive system.
Until then, the SG shall remain our favourite quick quirk of the automotive world, and hopefully a handful will survive the punishing taxation.
Subaru Forester 2.5XT
EJ25 Built by SPT Performance
Wiseco 100mm Forged Pistons
STI Nitrated Crankshaft
ACL Race Bearings
SPT TD05 20g Turbo
Process West TMIC
FLO Thickcore Radiator
GREDDY RZ BOV
GREDDY Profec OLED
COBB Tuning airflow pipe w/K&N Open Pod filter
DENSO Iridium IKH22
Cusco Oil Catch Can
Walbro 255 FP
SARD Fuel Pressure Regulator
Invidia Q300 Catback
CUSCO Battery tie down
TopTech Monotube Coilovers
Brembo gold STI spec 4 pot 2 pots
Bendix Ultimate Brake Pads
Whiteline 24mm front ARB
Whiteline 22mm rear ARB
Summit rear tie bar rod
CUSCO Front Strut Bar
STI EO Cover
Recaro SR3 (STI) with custom brackets.
After Market “Angel eyes” Headlights