A 112kW 2.5-litre flat four-cylinder engine is standard in Subaru's stronger, lighter and more powerful second generation Forester four-wheel drive wagon.
The boxer engine produces its maximum power - a 22 percent improvement - at 5600rpm and 223Nm of peak torque at 3600rpm.
The new Forester went on sale this week, with prices ranging from $37,990 to $48,990.
Though it's considerably stronger than the old model, the new wagon is an average of 5kg lighter. Some models are 25kg lighter. ABS anti-skid braking is standard across the range, as are dual front airbags.
The new Forester has bold front-end styling with a titanium finish-type grille on all models. The look of the car is evolutionary drawing on the outgoing model.
New window shapes and pillar design improve the field of vision.
The headlights incorporate parking lights and indicators in a single clear cluster.
The drag coefficient is improved from .38 to .35. The exterior mirror design was refined in the wind tunnel to produce splash reduction measures that mean about 30 percent less dirt sticks to the mirror.
Changing the profile of the roof pillars has also reduced cabin wind noise.
Door sill height is 88mm lower to make the Forester easier to get into and out of.
The rear cargo opening is hexagonal. Bumpers, lower door panels and sills are finished in grey on the X and metallic grey on the XS.
The driver's seat is height adjustable using a dial-type control. In a sop to current fashion, the speedometer is centrally-mounted.
Cabin width is 20mm greater than the old model's, at 1455mm. There is 4mm more headroom.
Rear passenger space is improved by 25mm. There's extra footroom beneath the front seats.
The wagon's ground clearance is 200mm and the seat height is 600mm. The rear passenger hip point is moved back 15mm.
Shoulder width is expanded by 20mm and hip-height width by 10mm.
Aluminium components including bonnet, roof rails, sunroof frames and front bumper beam help lower the centre of gravity. The bonnet is 8kg lighter than an equivalent steel one.
For improved stability, front and rear track have been widened by 20mm. Front and rear cross member mounting rigidity has been increased.
Body roll is reduced by 21mm front and a 17.3mm rear anti-roll bars.
The viscous coupling rear limited slip differential transfers maximum torque to the rear wheel with the most grip.
Front and rear suspension bushings are tuned to improve ride comfort and reduce nose-diving under braking.
The combined weight of rear suspension components is reduced by 13 per cent, through the use of a hollow rear anti-roll bar, lighter suspension struts and mounts and fast reaction coil springs. Rolling resistance and weight of the new-design Yokohama Geolander G900 P215/60R16 tyres has been reduced by nearly 10 percent.
The steering has a variable gear ratio, providing a quick response to large steering adjustments such as parking and a more direct feel for normal driving.
Noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) has been lowered by making changes to the rear differential mounting, dynamic dampers and reducing cross member weight. The Forester 2.5's automatic transmission shift quality is improved and movement of the select lever has been enhanced to produce a more direct feel.
Torque starts from 180Nm at just over 1000rpm and peaks at 223Nm at 3600rpm. It doesn't drop below 180Nm until almost 6000rpm.
The 2003 Forester 2.5 range consists of three models and five variants. The base model is the Forester X manual ($37,990) and automatic ($39,990).
Then come the Forester XS manual ($42,990) and automatic ($44,990).
The range-topper is the Forester XS Limited luxury pack automatic ($48,990). The X base model gets active head restraints on front seats; adjustable steering column; air-conditioning; aluminium bonnet; AM/FM Compact Disc player with four lightweight speakers; cargo area light and security blind; ceramic visor and shade band on windscreen for reduced glare; cruise control and dual front and rear cup holders.
The car also gets two-tone paint; four-wheel disc brakes; a full-size steel spare wheel with storage bucket power mirrors, steering and windows; three rear headrests; rear viscous coupling limited slip differential; three rear seatbelts; remote control central door locking; roof rails; sub-cargo floor storage spaces; upward-opening single-piece tailgate, and 60/40 split/fold rear seat.
Manual gearbox versions get a dual range transmission and a hill-holder. XS models add climate-control air-conditioning, front foglights, self-levelling rear suspension, six-stack in-dash Compact Disc player with AM/FM radio cassette and four lightweight speakers, and 16-inch diameter alloy wheels.
The range-topping XS Limited Luxury Pack adds dual front side airbags with head and shoulder protection; monotone paint; leather upholstery and a sunroof. Front seat speaker direction is optimised in all models for maximum aural effect. Sound quality has been improved through use of lightweight neodymium magnets. The Forester 2.5 X's sound system has a maximum output of 25 watts per channel. The XS has 30 watts per channel.