Subaru has released the latest update for its strong-selling Forester range, with the headline addition being a new automatic diesel variant that finally allows Subaru to compete on an even footing with its key competitors.
The other big news is a dramatic range-wide price cut, on top of the FTA-driven price realignment announced at the start of the year and sees some models drop by as much as $3500.
The range has also been rationalised: gone is the previous entry-level diesel, with only two trim grades now offered for diesel-drinking Foresters.
However, thanks to price cuts the previous mid-grade Forester 2.0D-L now starts at $33,490 - a whole $2000 less than last year's entry-level diesel.
Other changes include some minor refinements to the interior, as well as added equipment on some models.
Power outputs for all models remain the same, with the base Forester 2.0i receiving a 110kW/198Nm 2.0 litre petrol flat four, a 126kW/235Nm 2.5 litre petrol for Forester 2.5i variants, a 108kW/350Nm 2.0 turbo diesel for the Forester 2.0D and a 177kW/350Nm for the Forester XT flagship.
The Forester 2.0 remains a manual-only model, while all other petrol Foresters come equipped with a CVT automatic. Every Forester has constant AWD as standard, a Subaru hallmark.
But the big news is the availability of a CVT auto for the 2.0D.
Since a diesel powertrain was introduced to the Forester family in 2010 the Forester diesel has been strictly a manual-only model, limiting sales in a segment that strongly favours both diesels and automatics.
Now, with the optional Lineartronic CVT, Subaru has finally been able to flesh out the Forester range. Both the 2.0D-L and 2.0D-S also feature paddle shifters for manual control.
However, the automatic does come at the cost of fuel economy, with the 2.0D-L auto consuming 6.3 l/100km on the combined cycle compared to just 5.9 l/100km for the 2.0D manual.
Still, it's the thriftiest powertrain by a long shot.
The 2.0i-L requires an average of 7.2 l/100km, while the 2.5i-L and 2.5i-S use 8.1 l/100km. The turbo petrol Forester XT drinks the most, at 8.5 l/100km.
Most of the cabin and spec list carries over, however the centre stack controls and vents have been revised for 2015.
The infotainment display carries the biggest change, being similar to the all-new system debuted in the Liberty and Outback late last year.
For 2015, all Forester variants gain a multi-gesture 7.0-inch touchscreen that allows smartphone-like pinch-to-zoom inputs and faster responses to screen presses.
Voice recognition controls are also standard.
The new system is also compatible with the Pandora music streaming app, though requires a compatible smartphone to be paired with the car.
All Foresters feature Bluetooth audio and phone integration, as well as dual USB ports for charging and music input.
High-grade 2.5i-S, 2.0D-S and XT Premium models get sat-nav in addition to the above, plus keyless entry and ignition, a sunroof, powered tailgate, heated and powered front seats, leather upholstery, xenon headlamps and Subaru's Eyesight collision avoidance/active cruise control system.
PRICING (excludes on-road costs)
The 2015 Subaru Forester range is on sale now, with pricing as follows. Price changes are in brackets.
- Forester 2.0i-L - manual - $29,990 (-$2500)
- Forester 2.5i-L - auto - $32,990 (-$2000)
- Forester 2.5i-S - auto - $39,490 (-$3500)
- Forester 2.0D-L - manual - $33,490 (-$3000)
- Forester 2.0D-L - auto - $35,490
- Forester 2.0D-S - manual - $39,490 (-$3500)
- Forester 2.0D-S - auto - $42,490
- Forester 2.0XT - auto - $40,990 (-$1500)
- Forester 2.0XT Premium - auto - $47,990 (-$1500)