The Subaru Forester has developed a cult following in Hong Kong over the past decade because it is easy to handle, has lots of space and is fitted with an excellent four-wheel drive.
The oldest, sturdy-looking Foresters from 1998, can sell for between HK$16,000 and HK$25,000. A year 2000 version goes for HK$28,000, with prices rising to about HK$50,000 for a 2002 XT, and HK$190,000 for a 2.5-litre XT.
The Forester 2.0X (HK$259,880) has had a facelift and a significant mechanical overhaul, says a spokesman for local Subaru dealer, Motor Image (HK).
The 'crossover sports utility vehicle' seems more elegant with a new protruding bonnet and a bulging grille, with a larger 'six-star' marque badge in its middle.
Exhausts on either side of the rear convey power, while high-mounted LED brake lights could be useful in heavy rain on airport runs.
The Forester's interior has traditionally been more functional than stylish, but the latest version's sunroof opens to an airy cabin and welcoming seats. The rear seats fold back for lots of room and the dashboard is loaded with a 2-DIN audio system with Bluetooth and i-Pod systems.
The 2.0X gets a new 1,995cc, four-cylinder Boxer engine, the first update of the trusty, horizontally-opposed block which was introduced in the 1989 Legacy.
Fuji Heavy Industries built a new factory at its Gunma Oizumi Plant for the exclusive production of this new-generation engine, a four-cylinder 2,500cc version, and subsequent developments of them. The engine belts 150ps and 190Nm of torque (5Nm more than its predecessor) because it has been reengineered with a longer stroke design that 'contributes to enhanced low- and mid-range torque, to improve driving performance for more responsive and smooth acceleration in all speed ranges', Motor Image (HK) says.
Fitted with a direct-control-type electronically controlled four-speed automatic transmission with manual mode, the latest Forester also belches 12 per cent less exhaust than its predecessor.
It is also 'approximately 10 per cent' more fuel-efficient, at an average of 8.2 litres per 100km, thanks to enhancements in the model's valve timing, fuel system and a reduction of friction in the engine's moving parts, the dealer adds.
Foresters can be fitted with a range of accessories, from door visors to a roof carrier for luggage and splashguards that could be useful in the New Territories.