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Your Eyes Aren’t Deceiving You: The Bagged Subaru Forester

The bagged Forester

Since the dawn of the automobile there has been somewhat of an unwritten rule in terms of a car’s aesthetic appeal; lowered cars always look better. Even long before the stance movement has become mainstream people have been looking towards lowering their cars as a way to make it look good. From hot rods, to exotics, or to imports, their common denominator is always a low ride height. Given that a lowered car implies being ‘sporty’ or ‘fast’, it’s always been assumed by many that only coupes or sedans can look good slammed to the ground. While that idea still holds true to many, some may beg to differ. And that brings us to the idea behind this Subaru Forester.


Jeff Bati, the owner of this curious thing, sees it a little differently. He tells us that the motive behind this car is to apply an idea he’s always had stuck to his head. Growing up he’s always fancied a Toyota RAV-4, which if you’re old enough to know is one of the first SUVs to enter the local market back in the late 90’s. While today SUVs are pretty much everywhere, back then it would have looked quite quirky and odd to most people to see a ‘car on stilts’. That said, the idea that got to Jeff since then is to see how that odd SUV shape would look like hugging the floor.

Bagged Forester front

Fast forward to today though, we now see that idea of his come to life. Going with a proper platform to work with, Jeff set out to slam an SH9 Subaru Forester. With its all-wheel drive turbo powertrain, the Forester lends itself well to a spirited drive as well as to a host of modifications to give it a personal touch.


For starters, the satin white pearl exterior has a couple things to set it apart from your run-of-the-mill unit. Those of you with a keen eye for Foresters will notice the amber corners on the headlamps, that’s because those are actually US-spec headlamps where all cars are required by law to have amber corner lamps. The front and rear bumpers, as well as the side skirts, are a Subaru wrap-around sport bumper kit. Not only does this eliminate the ‘boat-like’ front end that the SH has long been criticized for, it also gives enough skirt for the forester to look wider as it sits lower.

Rota SVN-R wheels

Of course, the wheels always have to make ends meet when it comes to looks. Shod in 235/40 Achilles 123s, the Rota SVN-Rs sized in 18×10 all around pop right out in all its golden glory to steal the show! A closer peek into those spokes reveals a huge black caliper. A caliper adorned with an acronym synonymous to Subaru’s performance in the World Rally Championship…

STI brakes?

That’s right, you guessed it! Those brake calipers are straight off a GRB Impreza STI both for the front and the rear.


You’d be hard pressed to think that all that serious rubber and big brakes goes to waste on a car that flinches at a speed bump. Nope, here at Tuned we won’t ever pick out cars that don’t have the performance to back their looks up. You’d be glad to know that this forester has some punch going on in its motor as well. Its turbo has been upgraded to an IHI VF52 (Read: Turbo from the US ’09 WRX capable of 300whp with a tune) along with a full exhaust system consisting of an Invidia Downpipe ending with a Magnaflow Catback.

the low life

In order to achieve a height this low from a car that – in stock guise – can wade through a small river, a special set of suspension needs to be employed. This car in particular started its low life off with a set of Tein Wagon Flex coilovers. While that kit should suffice for many, it eventually proved to be lacking for Jeff as he needed the car to be even lower than the adjustability of his coils permits. After much thought and research, there really was only one practical option to bring the Foz as down to earth as possible; air suspension. With that decision made, Jeff had the Forester brought over to the guys at Car Porn Racing to have all four corners fitted with AirRex struts shortened specifically for the SH9 to reach the ground.

What most people think with air suspension setups is that all that matters is it goes up and down, the fact is it really isn’t that simple. A proper Air Management System goes a long way when it comes to making air suspension a dream or a nightmare. You won’t see any paddle switches here controlling the bags, what you will see however is a full display of the AccuAir TMP-1 E-level kit mounted on a custom tray above the trunk. In a nutshell, this system makes the air suspension a touch-and-go affair as it can calibrate the car’s maximum, driving, and slammed ride heights all on its own as well as sense any weight in the car and adjust the height accordingly. Much like an OEM system you will see in Range Rovers or Porsche Cayennes, the AccuAir kit basically gives the user a foolproof experience of riding on air!

Air control

Considering that his management system is on display for all to see, Jeff pulled out all the stops when it comes to presentation. Copper hard lines to route the air were sourced and intricately bent to give the kit some proper contrast against the white air tanks and dark interior. It also comes with its own air pressure gauge mounted dead center to ensure that there’s no air leaks in the system.

custom rear tray

One added benefit of the custom tray is the fact that the Forester gets to keep its class-winning trunk space underneath. All the air components have been kept out of the way to ensure that this car retains its usability and practicality, it is a daily driver after all!

bodywork modification

Beyond the air suspension and its management, many measures have been taken in order to bring this car down to the ground with a proper stance. A lot of custom work inside the fenders ensured that the wheel’s lip would sit flush with the fender once it’s dropped. The chassis too had its fair share of grinding done to it. At one point the suspension could bring the car so low that the chassis was already hitting the axles!

The Bad Forester

With this SUV – or dare I say, wagon – the way it currently is, Jeff seems to already be content with what he has achieved. From a mere idea to reality, this car has set itself apart from other lowered cars by taking a different body shape to the ground. It can be said then, that this Forester certainly stands out in a highway full of cars on stilts by, ironically, sitting low!

2011 Subaru Forester XT

IHI VF52 Turbo
AVO Hybrid Blow-off Valve
Invidia Downpipe
Magnaflow Catback Exhaust
Open ECU Reflash by MFB

Subaru Sport Front Bumper Skirt
Subaru Side Under Skirt
Subaru Rear Bumper Skirt
Subaru Waist Spoiler kit
USDM Headlight
HID 6K Bulbs for Headlights and Foglamps

Zero Sports Carbon Gauge Pod
Defi-link Advance CR Boost Gauge and Controller
STI Rear View Mirror Cover
STI Shift Knob
2din Pioneer Head Unit
Solargard LX-70

Wheels and Suspension
Rota SVN-R 18×10
Achilles 123s 235/40/18
GRB STI Big Brake Kit
APP Stainless Steel Brake Lines
AirRex Air Struts
AccuAir TMP-1 E-Level with custom Copper Hard Lines and dual 3-gallon tanks
HardRace Rear Lower Control Arm
Volk Rays Lug Nuts

Photos by: Jet Rabe

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