Six months ago, we introduced you to a rare, Japan-only Subaru
called the Subaru Legacy
2.5GT tS. The limited-edition model was the first offering in the company's brand-new tS series, designed to show there is room in the STI lineup for cars with sharper looks and improved handling. Now comes Part 2 of the tS story: the SUBARU FORESTER
In an automotive world that's always after more power, it's a brave move to say your cars already have enough oomph, and that your humble aim is to improve handling. But if any carmaker can get away with such modesty and still maintain user interest, Subaru
can. It has a cult following thanks to its class-leading, bang-for-buck performance.
Chief test driver Hideharu Tatsumi knows this. That's why he can say with a straight face that "Power isn't everything. Our turbocharged SUBARU FORESTER
has enough power for now. And that's why we've created the tS, a whole new brand inside the company that bridges the gap between the performance-oriented S versions (like the S201 through S204) and the base models." He says that tS stands for "tuned by STI," but when we queried one of his underlings during the SUBARU LEGACY
tS drive, a more colorful story emerged. "Inside the evaluation department," said our anonymous engineer, "we interpret tS as Tatsumi's Spirit, or more realistically, Tatsumi's Setup." That makes sense because Tatsumi is a legend at Subaru, having risen to the position of Nürburgring Meister after 20 years testing Subarus at the famed German track.
Boasting unique STI aeroparts and special paintwork, the SUBARU FORESTER
tS looks more aggressive than the base model. Sitting roughly two-thirds of an inch lower than the stock Forester's 8.4-inch ride height, the tS incorporates a specially designed STI front and rear roof spoiler, larger 17-inch Yokohama Geolander rubber (225/55R17), and STI badges. Designers continued the STI theme inside with a 240 km/h (150 mph) speedo, STI-badged Alcantara and leather seats with red stitching, and a leather-bound steering wheel and gear shifter.
More power is always welcome in our book, but as explained above, Tatsumi and Co. believe the Forester's turbo already has sufficient punch, and after a few hours behind the wheel, we can't complain. The 2.5-liter boxer turbo is mated to a five-speed automatic gearbox (with manual mode and paddles) and develops roughly 259 horsepower at 6000 rpm and 256 pound-feet of torque from 2800 to 4800 rpm (Japanese-spec trim). We would have liked to have seen the Legacy's six-speed manual gearbox bolted to the gutsy turbo, but the slushbox with flappy paddles shifts quickly enough to keep the driving experience on the boil. But it's what's under that chunky body that transports the SUBARU FORESTER
tS STI to a new handling dimension.