Upon its introduction for 2008, we couldn't help but feel that the third-generation Forester was perhaps Subaru's most attractive design effort in many, many years. While there was little that was groundbreaking about the design, its simple two-box shape was – and is – clean and free of extraneous details. To be fair, the Japanese automaker has always been renowned more for their technological designs (e.g. all-wheel drive, boxer engines) than their aesthetic ones, but this Subaru was proper work. Thus, we've been awaiting the range's promised successor with more than a little trepidation – we've seen modest design tweaks undue the visual appeal of previous Subarus too many times. Judging by this early look courtesy of what look to be scans of a Japanese Domestic Market brochure, we needn't have been so concerned.
The new Forester is expected to carry a 2014 model year designation here in the U.S. when it goes on sale here next year, and it's almost certain to share its platform with the new-for-2012 Impreza and XV Crosstrek. Based off the measurements disclosed in the JDM brochure, the new Forester will ride on a modestly longer wheelbase (less than an inch longer than the 2012 model), be a bit longer (roughly 1.4-inches) and wider by under an inch. It will also stand a sliver taller, but such minor differences will likely be very tough to discern with the naked eye.
Up front, the Forester has a bluffer and more assertive face, with a markedly more aggressive lower fascia with what look like vertical slat vents adjacent to smaller, low-mounted fog lamps. Subaru's wing-form element has nestled into a boxier grille form – the outgoing model's chrome fillet and badge rode on the top edge of the grille, but here it slides down a bit, standing out more thanks to a dark mesh backdrop. Like the new Impreza, the Forester adopts a five-window greenhouse, with a small quarterlight up front and new door-mounted side mirrors. The rest of the two-box shape looks decidedly similar to the outgoing generation, but that's not a bad thing. Prominent fender flares and new wheels mark out the rest of the profile. Out back, there's a larger roof-mounted spoiler, new rear hatch skin and a fresh bumper cap as well.
What we can see of the dashboard in the grainy brochure image appears to be the same unit found in the Impreza, which is to say simple and frill-free. We're hoping there are some upgrades in the materials and center stack technology, as we found the Impreza's cabin to be honest but underwhelming.
In Japan, the Forester will apparently be available with the buyer's choice of a 146-horsepower, 2.0-liter four (yoked to either a six-speed manual gearbox or a Continuously Variable Transmission) or a 276-horsepower, 2.0-liter twin-scroll turbocharged four, the latter only available with a CVT. For those keeping score, the outgoing Forester is available in the U.S. with a pair of 2.5-liter engines, one with 170 hp and the turbocharged model with 224 hp. It isn't immediately clear what engine(s) will be available in the States, but we think it's unlikely that the JDM 2.0-liter will be offered, if only not to go "backwards" on the spec sheet in terms of power. Thus, it's reasonable to assume that the company's newer 2.5-liter FB flat-four will find a way underhood, and it offers 173 horses in today's Legacy.
While there's no official word on when this Forester will make its global debut, we expect it to be very soon, as reports have the car going on sale in Japan in mid-November.