We get behind the wheel of the Solterra mid-sized SUV – the primary pure electrical automobile from Subaru…
The Subaru model has a comparatively low profile right here within the UK. Elsewhere, in nations such because the US and Australia, the Japanese firm’s automobiles are extra appreciated and promote in a lot larger numbers.
Subaru’s very succesful 4x4s are famend for his or her sturdiness, and historically, house owners are intensively loyal, holding onto their automobiles for longer than any rivals.
Fairly what they’ll make of the all-new Solterra is one other matter as a result of it’s sayonara to Subaru’s signature boxer engines and efficient ‘symmetrical’ four-wheel drive system.
Earlier than we start, let’s take care of the elephant within the room, as a result of the Solterra has been co-developed with the Toyota bZ4X and Lexus RZ.
The truth is, it’s manufactured alongside its cousins in the identical plant at Motomachi, Japan, they usually all share the identical e-TNGA platform.
It additionally bears greater than a passing resemblance to the Toyota and Lexus. Nevertheless, there are some key variations.
Crucial is that Subaru has stored issues easy with the Solterra, which is barely accessible in twin-motor four-wheel-drive kind. That additionally means it has a better beginning worth than some single-motor rivals.
There are simply two trim selections too – entry-level Restricted (£49,995) and top-spec Touring (£52,995). Each appear to be nearly similar mechanically, which suggests they share a 71.4kWh battery pack and two electrical motors, producing a mixed complete of 215bhp and 249lb ft of torque – sufficient for 0-62mph in 6.9 seconds.
Considerably, Restricted has a claimed vary of 289 miles, whereas Touring tops out at 257 miles. The one apparent distinction between the 2 is that the latter has 20-inch wheels (Restricted has 18s) and Touring weighs 25kg extra.
In different phrases, on paper it’s onerous to justify the additional few thousand quid for a shorter vary and some spec upgrades equivalent to an electrical passenger seat, (artificial) leather-based and a passenger door mirror that tilts when reversing.
As Subaru prospects would count on, the 4×4 system is everlasting, plus there’s an X-Mode button which helps you navigate more durable terrain equivalent to deep mud, snow and steep, slippery slopes — all in a managed, calm method.
We tried some mild off-roading and the Downhill Help Management, the pace of which could be adjusted through a easy swap on the steering wheel, is especially efficient.
What’s extra, with a minimal floor clearance of 210mm, it could deal with journeys some EV opponents can’t and it has a water-fording wading depth. It’s additionally price noting that the Solterra has a towing capability of simply 750kg.
Inside, it’s not in contrast to Subarus of previous in that it has a really feel of performance and sturdiness, however it’s a tad darkish and drab.
Like its Japanese cousins, there’s the identical unconventional structure for the motive force. In different phrases, they share the identical Peugeot-esque low steering wheel place and excessive instrument binnacle, plus centrally mounted 12.4-inch infotainment touchscreen.
That stated, it’s straightforward to get used to the driving place and the infotainment system works properly.
There’s loads of room for adults to sit down comfortably within the rear, whereas the boot capability is a helpful 452 litres (441 litres within the Touring model). On the minus facet, there’s no ‘frunk’ below the bonnet to retailer charging cables and no glovebox inside.
It’s properly outfitted too and, as Subaru house owners will like the truth that it boasts the newest security gear, reaching a most five-star ranking from Euro NCAP.
All-round visibility is sweet, and should you want further assurance, there’s a reversing digicam and 360-degree surround-view monitor. Our solely gripe is that there’s no rear wiper, which is OK in mild rain, however a nuisance on filthy motorway journeys.
On the highway the Subaru Solterra feels stable, composed and surprisingly agile for a comparatively massive, heavy automobile.
Push it on more difficult roads and physique roll is stored to a minimal, there’s additionally loads of grip and the steering turns in keenly.
There are three driving modes (Eco, Regular and Energy). As ever, Eco dulls the driving expertise, so it’s high-quality on motorway runs, however Regular is greatest for on a regular basis tootling alongside, whereas Energy is enjoyable for overtaking.
Though the 71.4kWh battery and two motors are on the modest facet in comparison with some opponents, the Solterra appears to have loads of poke.
In contrast to some EVs, the brakes are pretty progressive, whereas brake regeneration could be adjusted through paddles mounted behind the steering wheel.
One remaining thought. Should you check drive a Solterra, select a clean stretch of highway and hear out for noise. Our Touring spec check automobile wasn’t fairly the whisper-quiet expertise we’d hoped for. Harsh, when even a little bit of wind noise is noticeable in an EV, however we’ve come to count on not more than a distant wine from these electrical motors.
As for charging, it’s able to delivering an 80% increase in as little as half-hour through its (common) 150kW fast-charging system. The identical cost at residence will take 7-8 hours. Our charging expertise wasn’t ultimate as a result of the climate was chilly, so we couldn’t match the 30-minute goal time or get near the marketed cost charge.
Maybe extra importantly, our Touring spec Solterra solely will get a 257-mile vary, which in real-world driving is nearer to 200 miles, so not ultimate. What’s extra, should you swap on the heating, for instance, the vary takes one other hit. As we stated earlier than, persist with entry-level Restricted spec for these further miles of vary.
Wanting within the small print, the Solterra is roofed by a three-year/60,000-mile guarantee (whichever is sooner). Nevertheless, the bZ4X advantages from Toyota’s guarantee which covers your automobile for 10 years (as much as 100,000 miles), offered your automobile is serviced by a Toyota supplier.
The Solterra’s electrical SUV rivals embody all the things from the Tesla Mannequin Y, Skoda Enyaq iV and Nissan Ariya to the Ford Mustang Mach-E, Kia EV6 and Hyundai Ioniq 5.
So, the Solterra isn’t excellent, however don’t be delay. We prefer it, and actually, we’d say it simply edges the bZ4X.
Verdict: The good-looking Subaru Solterra SUV is a assured EV debut. It’s not with out a few gripes, however total it delivers an assured drive, it’s straightforward to dwell with, properly outfitted, protected and spacious.