Compared to most of its peers, Subaru has been relatively slow to adopt electric cars and transition to full electrification. As such, whereas pioneering EV brands such as Tesla, Polestar, and even its partner company Toyota, have been cranking out headline-catching EV after EV, Subaru is just, only now debuting its first, brand-new, all-electric crossover SUV, the Solterra.
This is a pivotal moment for the storied brand, as the success of the Solterra will be a sort of litmus test as to whether consumers, fans, and enthusiasts, in general, are interested in more electrified Subarus. So, after all these years, and with such high expectations set by consumers and the car market as a whole, is the Solterra worth the wait? Well, it turns out that waiting a little while isn’t such a bad thing, after all.
What Is The Subaru Solterra Touring About?
Appearance-wise, the Solterra does share some of the familiar traits that are typical of Subaru. And yet, the new Subaru Solterra has since been re-sculptured to give it a more futuristic, cyberpunk vibe. This is quite obvious as soon as you lay your eyes on the Solterra in the flesh. It features razor-sharp edges, aggressive bodywork, and an athletic silhouette. I do quite like those slim headlights and taillights, too.
Given that it represents a new, electrified era in Subaru’s adventurous and outdoorsy image, the Solterra is undoubtedly perfect for folks who like to wander out into the countryside. Those hard plastic cladding and exterior trim on the sides could more than readily take a bit of a beating if you’re doing some light off-roading. Or, for more suburban scenarios, it’ll also take some strain off you if you’re concerned about kerbing those lovely 20-inch alloy wheels.
Still, there isn’t really a concern at all if you do intend to spend more time traversing the urban jungle in your new Solterra, as it’s a relatively good-sized vehicle. Therefore, it’s a great fit for our UK roads. Still, don’t expect the Solterra to be as limiting as your average crossover, as the Solterra can take on off-road way more capably than it might appear. All it requires is peeling away that sporting bodywork to see what lies underneath.
How Does It Drive?
The Subaru Solterra has dual electric motors, front and rear. This ultimately forms part of a permanent, active torque-split, all-wheel drive system. Although it’s electrified, Subaru still maintains the legendary ‘Symmetrical AWD’ nomenclature. Altogether, it’ll be suitable for cranking out a combined 215bhp, and another 336Nm of torque, between its dual motors. When putting power down onto tarmac, it’ll reward you with a respectable, if not mind-blowing, 6.9 seconds from 0 to 62mph.
As with its contemporaries, the Solterra’s driving feel and performance can be fine-tuned even further with one of three standard drive modes… Eco, Normal, and Power. Nevertheless, given that this is a Subaru – a brand well-regarded for its outdoorsyness – it features Subaru’s X-Mode terrain management system. This system works to help improve grip and traction when wheel slip is detected, when you’re off-roading or if you’re driving off the beaten path.
Specifically, X-Mode offers you settings for Snow/Dirt, as well as Deep Snow/Mud. Although this might not seem like a vehicle that would see a lot of off-roading, when pairing that with the Solterra’s comparatively high ground clearance (8.3 inches or 21cm) and its Hill Descent Control system, the Subaru Solterra handles itself out in the brush with shocking ease. If slight off-roading and camping excursions are something that you plan on doing with your Solterra, it ought to tackle that just nicely. Of course, it isn’t a purpose-built off-roader, so don’t take it extreme off-roading or anything.
Otherwise, when you’re tackling heavy rain or snowy roads, that Symmetrical all-wheel drive system is a massive positive. There’s a good amount of traction, and with the suspension set-up that Subaru’s managed to fine-tune, it keeps the Solterra planted and well-poised on the road. However, once you’re done trekking to a scenic picnic spot in your Solterra, driving it back home on paved roads will be just as pleasant of an experience.
Given that it’s an EV, the Solterra comes with the virtues of being supremely quiet, serene, and comfortable, while also being effortless to get in and drive. It’s helped by the fact that I haven’t noticed any odd synthetic exhaust notes or electric powertrain noises. Handling, on the other hand, is interesting… See, as part of the interior redesign, the steering wheel is made smaller, so that you’re peering over the top to take a peek at your instrument cluster, rather than through the upper section. As a result, the Solterra feels nimble and more agile when you chuck it into a corner.
What Is It Like Inside?
The interior of the Solterra is arguably not as posh or as luxurious as some other cars that it competes with at this price point. With that being said, where Subaru has set itself apart is its long-lasting ruggedness, and its solidity, as well as its hard-wearing construction. In this regard, the Solterra shares some of that cabin DNA with other Subaru models that diehard fans and owners might be quite familiar with.
In so doing, there are a lot of hard plastics, tough leather, and ever-reliable fabric, which all ought to stand the test of time, particularly so if you’re using your Solterra as a family car. Subaru’s choice of materials for the upholstery and interior trim is a great way of ensuring that your Solterra won’t show wear and tear all too easily. Plus, Subaru has done a lot of work in redesigning the Solterra’s interior to be a bit more modern than most of its recent offerings.
The most noticeable change is the monolithic 12.3-inch infotainment system, taking up most of your real estate on the centre console. This swanky, high-tech unit is a much-needed and welcomed upgrade over the older infotainment systems used in other Subaru models. It features a far cleaner UI and more up-to-date graphics. Yet, this evolution doesn’t sacrifice the ease of use and intuitiveness that Subaru is well-known for.
Because of this, looking elsewhere around the cabin, Subaru hasn’t fallen into the “touchscreen everything” trap that many carmakers fall into. Thus, besides the climate control buttons (which work well enough), you’ll still find plenty of hard, physical buttons around the interior. Speaking of tech, you’ll also get a fully digital instrument cluster, dominated by a modest, but adequate 7-inch display. While it can be barebones at times, it does show most of what you need to know while you’re on the move, like whether you’re using power from the battery, or if you’re leveraging the regenerative braking.
The roominess of the Solterra’s cabin is another noteworthy bonus. For example, along the front, the centre console is designed with a raised bridge, further separating the front passenger and driver, creating a great feeling of space. Further in the back, even with the front seats pushed far enough back to accommodate my taller stature, there’s still an abundance of legroom and headroom for your rear passengers. Plus, both the front and rear passengers get heated seats, and the steering wheel is heated also.
To further accentuate the openness of the cabin, there’s a panoramic-style roof, which also has the effect of improving visibility in and around your Subaru Solterra. Additionally, there’s an even bigger boot further in the rear, which is more than sufficient for the weekly grocery run, or if you’re packing away for a long road trip. On top of that, with the additional under-floor stowage, you could keep smaller items, or ideally, keep your EV charger cables in there.
Thus far, I’ve noticed that while the Solterra may showcase the future for Subaru (with many firsts), it still doesn’t change the fact that it retains the super-practical and utilitarian nature of owning and driving a Subaru. To further cement this, Subaru typically has one of the best ADAS suites and systems today. Hence, it’s only natural that the Solterra too inherits this from its ICE predecessors. So, what do you get?
Well, you’ll find that the Solterra is fitted with adaptive cruise control, lane-departure alerts, lane-centring assist, blind-spot monitoring, traffic sign recognition, and rear cross-traffic alerts… Just to name a few. In addition to these, Subaru has a few other neat gadgets to make driving your Solterra a bit easier. That includes a 360-degree camera, as well as a reversing camera, and a rearview camera – which can be used as a traditional mirror, too – ensuring that parking or manoeuvring around town is far simpler and safer.
Interestingly, that rearview camera is mounted down below, above the license plate, next to the Solterra’s backup/reversing camera, instead of taking Land Rover’s approach of mounting the rearview camera up high, on the shark fin rear spoiler. This is actually a better implementation by Subaru, as mounting it low does make it easier to see more of the cars behind you, and even further down, things such as low-slung objects or obstacles behind your car.
The latter could’ve otherwise been missed by the conventional rearview mirror. Granted, I did notice that the resolution on that rearview camera isn’t the sharpest, and the image quality is a tad softer than I’d normally like, but they do work well enough. All in all, it makes the Solterra a fantastic daily driver, with a car that’s so friendly to drive and interact with, that it allows you to enjoy using it, and that feeling of wanting to spend a lot of time behind the wheel.
Given that the Subaru Solterra is an electric car/SUV, it’s also worth talking about the Solterra’s fairly meaty 71.4kWh battery pack. And, if you need a quick top-up, it supports 150kW fast charging. Subaru claims that the total range is about 250 or so miles. I’ve found, that in real-world driving conditions and scenarios, with a mix of mostly pootling around town and occasionally heading down the motorway at higher speeds, you can certainly get closer or into the 200s.
Subaru Solterra Touring Cost
There are 2 trim levels of the new Subaru Solterra available here in the UK… The Limited trim for £52,495, and the top-spec Touring trim that I’ve driven here, which will set you back £55,495. Between them, there are rather subtle variations between each trim. For instance, there’s the Limited trim’s inclusion of a smaller set of 18-inch alloy wheels, as well as the omission of the dual sunroof. In addition, while the Touring trim here comes with synthetic leather seats, the Limited trim makes do with fabric seats.
There are a couple of other nice-to-haves that you need to consider when you’re spec’ing your new Solterra. That includes Subaru’s Follow-Me-Home lighting, the wireless phone charging pad, memory door mirrors, 8-speaker & subwoofer sound system (instead of 6-speakers), which are all only included in the range-topping Touring trim. On the bright side, the Limited trim doesn’t skimp on any of the ADAS suites, as they all come by default, as standard fitment, on all Solterra trim levels – this is nice to see!
Given that this is Subaru’s first foray into electric vehicles, it’s a pretty good foundation to start off with. The Solterra is an uber-practical, utilitarian, and easy-going daily driver or family car to own, live with, and drive day-in, and day-out. I’ve never had any problems with long-term ownership or driving a Subaru in the past, and they’re those sorts of cars that just work, with no qualms or complications. The Solterra fulfils this in spades, even if Subaru replaced that good-old, tried-and-tested Boxer engine and CVT gearbox with new-age electric motors and a battery pack.
It could still manage all those off-road-y things that you’ve done with Subarus in the past, and it still retains Subaru’s highly-regarded all-wheel drive system. The interior is quite nice to spend time in, and has all those practical features and additions that make the Solterra a great choice for an eco-friendly family car. When you’re on the move, Subaru continues to impress with just how well its ADAS systems work, ensuring that it keeps a close eye on you, making sure you’re safe on the road. While Subaru prices the Solterra in a rather competitive price bracket, the Solterra remains a compelling offering.
Subaru Solterra Touring Specs
- Price: £55,495
- Engine: Dual-motor EV, AWD
- Power: 215bhp
- Torque: 336Nm
- 0-62mph: 6.9 seconds
- Top speed: 100mph
- Weight: 2,040kg
- Economy combined: 257 miles (WLTP)
- CO2: 0g/km