Subaru's Forester tS, shown at the Moscow Motor Show this week, is perhaps a signal the Japanese company is set to expand its global STi line-up.
It is thought that the previously Japan-only 'fast Forester' will be first in a wider performance line-up, which is currently limited to the WRX STi outside of Japan.
The tS, fettled and tuned by STi, is a 2.5 litre turbo boxer-powered version of the soft-roader, kicking out a respectable 193kW and 347Nm of torque.
Those figures are the same as the Forester S-edition already sold in Australia, with the main difference being the official STi-badging and some specification details.
British website Autocar spoke to a company insider who said the Russian launch was a toe-in-the-water exercise for the brand's expansion.
"Russia is the perfect market to trial sales of a more aggressive Forester, but it's clear that STi's abilities and experience could work on other cars in other markets," the insider said, according to the Autocar report.
"Confining them to WRX projects doesn't make sense when the demand is there."
Despite pulling out of rally in 2008, Subaru is still able to trade on its World Rallying successes through the WRX and STi nameplates.
The Forester ST might just be the kickstart the brand needs to win back some of its lost kudos with enthusiasts.
As you might expect, there are no obvious plans to import the Forester tS to sit alongside the WRX STi and Forester S in local showrooms. And, for now, the BRZ STi is still just a dream.
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