In their Malaysian line-up, the Subaru roster of SUVs continues to grow with the newest variant being the Forester GT Lite Edition, launched in early February, aiming to bring a dash of sportiness to the range at a more attainable price.
That name might ring a bell due to the Forester GT that preceded it, but unlike that range-topping variant, the GT Lite is based on the entry-level Forester 2.0i-L. Coming in at an on-the-road price of RM163,788 without insurance, the SUV benefits from a 50% sales tax exemption on account of it being an imported model, assembled in Thailand.
The GT Lite is all about the added sportier look afforded by that bodykit, which kicks off with the GT Front Under Spoiler and GT Rear Under Spoiler, but complements the showing with the GT design side skirts, roof spoiler, and a chromed exhaust finisher.
Though any of the 7 body colours can be chosen, here we see the Forester GT Lite in the popular Crystal White Pearl exterior colour, which matches quite nicely with the cosmetic enhancements alongside the standard 17-inch alloy wheels.
All told, these touches have made a positive impact on the SUV’s visual presence, even when stationary as they blend in quite nicely with the Forester’s base aesthetic, managing to just be a notch or two down from the full-blown (non-Lite) Forester GT.
Inside, there’s even less to separate this variant from its higher-priced counterparts. Plenty of interior space is a given, partly explaining why it emerged as the overall winner in our SUV group test last year, with leather seats (in black with white stitching) as standard and an overall high level of material quality and build. Boot space remains a highlight with 520 litres, expandable to beyond 1,500 litres with the rear seats folded.
Since the main separators between the Forester 2.0i-L and the 2.0i-S are a more comprehensive list of safety features, equipment levels are otherwise identical. There’s dual-zone climate control, power-adjustable front seats, automatic headlights, rain-sensing automatic wipers, aluminium pedals, and an 8-inch infotainment display with Subaru’s Superview 360-degree around view monitor.
Under the bonnet, we have the same 2.0-litre flat-four unit powering all other Forester local variants. This FB20 unit is naturally aspirated and features direct injection and produces 156PS and 196Nm, mated to Subaru’s Lineartronic CVT and distributed to all-four wheels via the Symmetrical AWD system.
Active Torque Vectoring ensures pretty precise handling for an SUV, and the driver has the option of paddle shifters for a little more involvement and can also choose between the X-Mode presets for added off-road adeptness.
The Subaru Forester 2.0i-L GT Lite Edition comes with 7 airbags, Brake Assist, 4-channel Anti-Lock Brakes with Electronic Brake-Force Distribution, cruise control, a reversing camera, reverse parking sensors, and ISOFIX anchor points. Each Forester comes with a 5-year, 100,000km warranty.