What's the news?
The new hybrid system is based around the existing 2.0-litre naturally aspirated 'Boxer' flat-four petrol engine. Well, we say existing but actually Subaru says that 80 per cent of the engine has been changed or updated to turn it into the e-Boxer.
Subaru's engineers have packaged the electric motor down near the cars' centre of gravity while the battery pack is stacked above the rear axle so as to cause minimal changes to the weight distribution. Combined with an updated 'Lineartronic' CVT automatic transmission, Subaru says that the new hybrid system achieves: "a smoother, 30% more linear, responsive acceleration and a highly responsive torque."
Both Forester and XV versions can drive on electric power alone, but only for short distances (1.6km max) and at low speeds (less than 40km/h), so clearly Subaru's intention here is for the cars to maximise their urban fuel economy, which is reckoned to improve by around 11 per cent. However, because this is Subaru, the cars are still full-time four-wheel drive (no electric-motor driven axles here) so their off-road performance and towing capability are not affected (you can tow up to 1,870kg behind the new Forester, for example).
That new Forester, incidentally, is 20mm wider than the old one and has a 30mm longer wheelbase, which should boost cabin space more than a little. Plus it has a massive 220mm of ground clearance, so tackling tricky off-road sections should still be a breeze. Better yet, the new Forester gets the classier, better-built cabin we've already seen in the XV.
Speaking of the XV, that too gets the new e-Boxer hybrid and gets the same 11 per cent improvement in urban economy. Plus it matches the Forester's 220mm ground clearance figure for those who need it to do some serious off-roading.
Oh, and the Levorg is getting a big update for 2019 too. It's not getting the hybrid system, yet, but it is trading in its 1.6-litre turbo petrol engine for the naturally-aspirated 2.0-litre flat four, and is getting a suspension re-tune to make it less aggressively sporty. That sounds like a bit of a shame to us (we always rather liked the Levorg) but apparently, this is being done in response to customer feedback. It's also getting an updated and upgraded interior.