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 vehicles are extra appreciated and promote in a lot larger 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 are going to 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.
An important is that Subaru has saved issues easy with the Solterra, which is simply obtainable in twin-motor four-wheel-drive type. That additionally means it has the next beginning value 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 equivalent 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 laborious to justify the additional few thousand quid for a shorter vary and some spec upgrades corresponding 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 corresponding to deep mud, snow and steep, slippery slopes — all in a managed, calm manner.
We tried some gentle off-roading and the Downhill Help Management, the velocity of which might be adjusted through a easy change on the steering wheel, is especially efficient.
What’s extra, with a minimal floor clearance of 210mm, it might probably 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 effectively.
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 aspect, there’s no ‘frunk’ beneath the bonnet to retailer charging cables and no glovebox inside.
It’s effectively outfitted too and, as Subaru homeowners will like the truth that it boasts the newest security tools, attaining a most five-star score from Euro NCAP.
All-round visibility is sweet, and for those who want further assurance, there’s a reversing digital camera 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 stable, composed and surprisingly agile for a comparatively giant, heavy automobile.
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 tremendous on motorway runs, however Regular is finest for on a regular basis tootling alongside, whereas Energy is enjoyable for overtaking.
Despite the fact that the 71.4kWh battery and two motors are on the modest aspect 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 might be adjusted through paddles mounted behind the steering wheel.
One last thought. When you take a look at drive a Solterra, select a easy stretch of highway and hear out for noise. Our Touring spec take a look at 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% enhance in as little as half-hour through its (common) 150kW fast-charging system. The identical cost at dwelling will take 7-8 hours. Our charging expertise wasn’t very best 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 very best. What’s extra, for those who change on the heating, for instance, the vary takes one other hit. As we stated earlier than, stick to 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 car for 10 years (as much as 100,000 miles), supplied your automobile is serviced by a Toyota seller.
The Solterra’s electrical SUV rivals embrace the whole lot 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 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 no few gripes, however total it delivers an assured drive, it’s straightforward to reside with, effectively outfitted, protected and spacious.