We get behind the wheel of the Solterra mid-sized SUV – the primary pure electrical automotive 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 vehicles are extra appreciated and promote in a lot greater numbers.
Subaru’s very succesful 4x4s are famend for his or her sturdiness, and historically, homeowners are intensively loyal, holding onto their vehicles for longer than any rivals.
Fairly what they may 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.
Actually, it’s manufactured alongside its cousins in the identical plant at Motomachi, Japan, and so they all share the identical e-TNGA platform.
It additionally bears greater than a passing resemblance to the Toyota and Lexus. Nonetheless, there are some key variations.
A very powerful is that Subaru has saved issues easy with the Solterra, which is simply accessible in twin-motor four-wheel-drive type. That additionally means it has a better beginning worth than some single-motor rivals.
There are simply two trim decisions too – entry-level Restricted (£49,995) and top-spec Touring (£52,995). Each appear to be nearly an identical mechanically, which implies 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 arduous to justify the additional few thousand quid for a shorter vary and some spec upgrades similar to an electrical passenger seat, (artificial) leather-based and a passenger door mirror that tilts when reversing.
As Subaru clients would count on, the 4×4 system is everlasting, plus there’s an X-Mode button which helps you navigate harder terrain similar to deep mud, snow and steep, slippery slopes — all in a managed, calm means.
We tried some gentle off-roading and the Downhill Help Management, the pace of which will be adjusted by way of a easy change on the steering wheel, is especially efficient.
What’s extra, with a minimal floor clearance of 210mm, it may possibly deal with journeys some EV opponents can’t and it has a water-fording wading depth. It’s additionally value noting that the Solterra has a towing capability of simply 750kg.
Inside, it’s not in contrast to Subarus of outdated 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 simple to get used to the driving place and the infotainment system works nicely.
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’ underneath the bonnet to retailer charging cables and no glovebox inside.
It’s nicely geared up too and, as Subaru homeowners will like the truth that it boasts the newest security tools, attaining a most five-star ranking from Euro NCAP.
All-round visibility is nice, and in the event 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 gentle rain, however a nuisance on filthy motorway journeys.
On the highway the Subaru Solterra feels strong, composed and surprisingly agile for a comparatively giant, heavy automotive.
Push it on more difficult roads and physique roll is saved 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 effective on motorway runs, however Regular is finest 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.
Not like some EVs, the brakes are pretty progressive, whereas brake regeneration will be adjusted by way of paddles mounted behind the steering wheel.
One closing thought. In the event you take a look at drive a Solterra, select a clean stretch of highway and pay attention out for noise. Our Touring spec take a look at automotive 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% enhance in as little as half-hour by way of its (common) 150kW fast-charging system. The identical cost at house will take 7-8 hours. Our charging expertise wasn’t excellent as a result of the climate was chilly, so we couldn’t match the 30-minute goal time or get near the marketed cost price.
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 excellent. What’s extra, in the event you change on the heating, for instance, the vary takes one other hit. As we stated earlier than, keep on with entry-level Restricted spec for these further miles of vary.
Trying within the small print, the Solterra is roofed by a three-year/60,000-mile guarantee (whichever is sooner). Nonetheless, the bZ4X advantages from Toyota’s guarantee which covers your automobile for 10 years (as much as 100,000 miles), supplied your automotive is serviced by a Toyota supplier.
The Solterra’s electrical SUV rivals embody every thing 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 postpone. We prefer it, and in reality, we’d say it simply edges the bZ4X.
Verdict: The good-looking Subaru Solterra SUV is a assured EV debut. It’s not and not using a few gripes, however total it delivers an assured drive, it’s simple to stay with, nicely geared up, secure and spacious.