Unique JDM

Subaru Forester STi – A Performance JDM SUV!

The Subaru Forester STi is quite a significant piece of engineering, despite this, it is rather unknown since it was only manufactured for the Japanese Domestic Markets (JDM).

Most JDM fans are familiar with the STi badging of Subaru’s performance models such as the Subaru Impreza STi or Subaru Legacy STi – but unbeknownst to most westerners, the Japanese Domestic Market received Subaru Forester STi with the second generation (SG9). The JDM Forester STi is an impressive feat of engineering, there are not many parts the STi version share with the standard Forester. Everything from suspension, steering, interior & exterior as well as engine we’re either upgraded or changed altogether.


Regarding what some other sources lead you to believe, the Subaru Forester STi first entered the Japanese domestic market in 2004. And came available with the second-generation Forester (SG9). As Subaru saw great success with the likes of the Hatchback Subaru WRX STi and Subaru Legacy STi they had the bright idea of making an STi version of their SUV, the Forester. And what a great idea, not only was it a successful launch, it was actually good to drive too.

You see, when people look at the Forester STi, most people see a big brick of metal, all looks – no go, and probably weighs around a gazillion tons. Not quite. You see, the Forester STI only weighs 1,500kg. That is not a lot. In fact, a BMW E46 M3 weighs in at 1,470kg – so even though the Forester is a large SUV, with space for a whole family as well as large cargo space, it weighs the same as a BMW M-model.

Forester STi Upgrades

Engine and Transmission

The JDM Forester STi came with a bunch of upgrades over the standard version. First of all, the STI Forester received the famous 2.5L turbocharged Flat-4 (EJ25 turbo H4) from the WRX STi producing 261hp. But unfortunately, only came with a 3-speed CVT transmission. I’m joking. It came with a 6-speed manual, sweet.

Just these two upgrades alone make for a pretty sweet ride. But there is a long list of additional upgrades made. Let’s go through them.

Suspension and Steering

The Forester STi’s suspension was modified to cope with the greater power produced by the new engine, incorporating STi sport springs, redesigned struts at each corner, and larger anti-roll bars and cross-members.

As a result of these modifications, the ride height was reduced by 1.2 inches and the resistance to torsional forces was improved. This also improved the rolling resistance even though the higher center of gravity of the Forester remained.

The Forester STI also came with a brand-new steering rack with a quicker ratio which resulted in a quicker and more accurate turn-in.

Wheels and Tires

The JDM Forest STi received a neat pair of 18-inch, 10-spoke alloy wheels, and was also available in Subaru’s famous gold color. Behind the wheels, we’re a set of four-piston Brembo brakes in the front, and 2-piston brakes in the rear. These were also painted gold to honor the STi heritage. Fitted all-around was some 225/45R-18 Bridgestone Potenza tires.


While remaining mostly the same as the standard Forester, the STi version had some cool upgrades. Perhaps the most precious one is the special STi bucket seats available which had the STi logo stitched on with red stitching, as well as an STi gear knob.  The STi also got a smaller steering wheel which was covered in leather which you didn’t get on the standard model.


Even a person not particularly interested in cars can still see that there is something special about the Subaru Forester STi. The STi version had wider arches, a more aggressive rear, and front bumper – as well as an in-your-face hood scoop. A hood scoop on an SUV? There you have it.

The Forester STi also came with an upgraded exhaust system, so if you couldn’t tell by just looking at it, you would hear it. Once you hear the sound of a Subaru STi Boxer-4 it is hard to forget.


Even by today’s standards, the Forester STi is surprisingly fast. Zero to 62 (0-100km/h) is completed in less than 5,4 seconds. But it is also fast around a corner, even considering its square exterior and tall chassis similar to that of the WRX STi. The lowered and stiffer suspension, as well as the improved aerodynamics clearly has transformed the STi Forester for the better.

Specification Summary Subaru Forester STi

Below you’ll find a specification summary of the Subaru Forester STi.

Overall Length
4485 mm
Overall Width
1735 mm
Overall Height
1590 mm
2525 mm
Tread (Front/Rear)
1495/1485 mm
Curb Weight
1,500 kg (3,307 lbs.)
Engine Type
EJ25 (Flat-Four
2,457 cc
Max. Power
265 hp
Max. Torque
378Nm (279 ft. lb.)
6-Speed Manual
Market Sold In
Japanese Domestic Market Only

The Subaru Forester STi Should Be Driven

There are many cars out there that perhaps should not be driven in certain weather, or on certain roads. Like you wouldn’t take out your Cabriolet Porsche during a snow storm. And that’s the beauty with the Forester STi – it should be driven, no matter what. That is the purpose of it. You can go shopping, take your family on a road trip, go to a car meet, or even a track day. The Forester STi is set up in such a magical way that it does all these things without a single hassle.

When reading or hearing from Forester STi owners, that is usually their reasoning to own it. Sure, it is unique and cool – but it offers a lot more on top of that.

I’d love myself an Impreza WRX STi, but I’d take a Forester STi any day of the week. I can’t think of another car that offers the things the way a Forester STi does.


The Subaru Forester STi is a very unique and rare SUV. Produced only for the Japanese domestic market the STi only came available as a right-hand drive. Subaru did numerous upgrades to the STi compared to the standard model. It received the WRX STi 2.5L engine producing 265 hp, as well as improved STi suspension, and new exterior, and interior design. Considering the time period, the Forester STi was really quick – with some people measuring 0 to 100km/h in 5.0 seconds flat.

Considering the rarity of the car, the Forester STi is still priced relatively reasonable at anywhere from $10,000 to $25,000. However, since the oldest Forester STi was manufactured in 2004 U.S. citizens looking to purchase a Forester STi has to wait until 2029 due to the 25-year import law.

E. Lindgren

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