Subaru has entered the green car market with their first hybrids. Unsurprisingly, they’re based on the brand’s top sellers in Australia – the Forester and XV.
“Forester and XV are long-established sales successes in our range and we know there is pent-up demand for hybrid variants among one of the most loyal customer bases in the industry,” said Subaru Australia Managing Director, Colin Christie.
“We’re already achieving significant fleet successes with our hybrid variants, in an area where our engineering, safety and whole-of-life costs make a compelling story.”
Those fleet successes include more than 500 sales ahead of the hybrids’ official release in March, with demand so great that local allocation has sold out until May.
Subaru are calling these debut hybrids the first steps in a long-term strategy that will result in several next generation powerplants and technologies coming from the brand in the future.
“With the formal launch into showrooms across Australia, we can see small but important opportunities to enter a growing space, in which Subaru will have an increasing presence in the not too distant future, with a variety of increasingly sophisticated and efficient hybrid – and later electric – vehicles,” Christie added.
A common drivetrain – called ‘e-Boxer’ - is used for both the Forester and XV hybrids and combines Subaru’s familiar 2.0-litre Boxer engine with a “Motor Assist” electric motor and battery.
The 2.0-litre petrol engine produces 110kW at 6,000rpm and 196Nm at 4,000rpm in this application. The electric motor produces 12.3kW and 66Nm, and uses kinetic energy generated through braking and coasting to recharge the lithium ion battery, the capacity of which has not been revealed.
Subaru says the combination produces smooth, linear and responsive acceleration, while the e-Boxer logic automatically adjusts the power split between petrol and electric to match different driving conditions. There are three basic modes, from petrol-engine only, to combined drive to electric engine only.
The electric motor mainly operates from takeoff and at speeds up to 40km/h, after which both engines operate. At higher speeds, the electric motor shuts down and the petrol engine takes over. When coasting or under braking, energy is fed back into the battery. With no ‘plug-in’ function, this is the only way to feed charge back into the system’s battery.
In the Forester Hybrid, the e-Boxer powerplant offers an improvement in urban cycle fuel economy of up to 14 per cent over a petrol-only Forester, while in the XV Hybrid, urban cycle fuel economy is improved by up to 19 per cent. On the more realistic combined cycle measures, the gains are 7 per cent and 9 per cent, respectively.
Both the Forester Hybrid and XV Hybrid retain their all-wheel drive capability, with the Forester offering SI-Drive (in one variant) that allows the driver to choose between ‘Intelligent’ and ‘Sport’ driving modes.
X-Mode (in the XV and one Forester Hybrid variant only) is retained, with this control system for throttle response, AWD and braking said to actually be better with Motor Assist as it offers improved low-speed torque control.
One of the trade-offs with the e-Boxer powerplant is that there’s no spare wheel – not even a space saver, as the battery pack sits over the rear axle and occupies most of the spare wheel space.
Forester Hybrid – Two Choices
The debut Forester Hybrid will be available in a choice of two trim levels – Hybrid L and Hybrid S.
The differences between the two are mainly in terms of trim and appointments, with the S getting more kit over the L.
As mentioned, the 2.0 Boxer four-cylinder and Motor Assist electric motor, along with the Lineartronic CVT transmission and Symmetrical AWD system, are common to both Forester hybrids.
Other componentry and features shared between the two Forester model grades include LED fog and tail lights, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, digital radio, automatic transmission lockout, a smart key, auto stop-start, climate control dual zone air conditioning, heated front seats, multi-function dash display and a full safety suite that includes ABS, EBD, Adaptive Cruise Control, Blind Spot Detection, EyeSight driver assist, Land Change Assist, Pedestrian Alert System for the electric motor operation, driver monitoring system and multiple airbags.
Over the Forester Hybrid L, the Hybrid S adds SI-Drive and X-Mode for more driver control options on-road and off, as well as 18-inch alloys (17-inch on the L), 8-way power adjustable front seats, power-folding rear seats, power tailgate, 8.0-inch infotainment display (6.5-inch on the L), a Harman-Kardon premium audio system, electric sunroof, leather trim, twin front USB ports and a factory-fitted TomTom satnav.
Forester Hybrid braked towing capacity is 1,200kg
XV Hybrid – Green Starter
The XV Hybrid carries most of the same features as the non-hybrid versions of this small SUV, including 17-inch alloys, heated exterior mirrors, a 6.5-inch infotainment display, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, digital radio, a six-speaker sound system, climate control air, 60/40 split rear seat, leather steering wheel and shifter trim, X-Mode and safety kit that includes ABS, EBD, Active Torque Vectoring, EyeSight driver assist, Vehicle Dynamics Control, tyre pressure monitoring and the Vision Assist package that includes Blind Spot Monitoring, Lane Change Assist, High Beam Assist, rear cross traffic alert and reverse automatic braking.
XV Hybrid braked towing capacity is 1,270kg.
As with other Forester and XV variants, the new hybrids carry a 5-year/unlimited km warranty and a 5-star ANCAP safety rating.
Subaru Hybrid pricing
XV Hybrid AWD - $35,580
Forester Hybrid L AWD - $39,990
Forester Hybrid S AWD - $45,990