Read Caroline’s Subaru Solterra review for everything you need to know about buying Subaru’s electric crossover in Ireland.

Subaru is known as a 4×4 specialist with cars like the Impreza, Forester and Outback in its repertoire and famous for the flat four Boxer engine.

The brand is a small player in the Irish market but does have a strong following of fans who love the straightforward rugged and reliable character of a good Subaru.

The Japanese car brand has dabbled in some hybrid technology to clean up its environmental credentials and now steps into the arena of the full battery electric vehicle (BEV) with the all-new Subaru Solterra.

The Solterra was co-developed with Toyota and shares much of its engineering, battery and interior with the Toyota BZ4X. Subaru gave its all wheel drive expertise to the project, giving the Solterra a leg up in the market for any buyer seeking an EV that won’t embarrass you off road.

Let’s take a closer look.

The Subaru Solterra
The Subaru Solterra

Styling

The Solterra shares its basic shape with the Toyota BZ4X but with a few Subaru tweaks that make it arguably a better looking car overall. It’s quite a big vehicle in the metal with numerous crossover design cues that hint at its ability off road. For a start, it sits a little bit higher off the ground than your average hatchback with a good 210 mm of ground clearance and there is copious amounts of plastic cladding around the wheel arches. At the front, the Solterra gets Subaru’s iconic hexagon grille plate. There are also different headlights with washers. The standard wheel size is 18-inch, with the option to upgrade to a set of 20-inch on the Touring model. At the back, there are two separate lights as opposed to the Toyota’s full light bar.

Interior

While the outside styling does offer a little distinction from the Toyota, inside it’s a carbon copy. Subaru cars always had strong, good quality cabins and the same has to be said for the Solterra. However, the collaboration has added a little more style and digital tech to proceedings. There’s a nice mix of materials including a tweed-like fabric on the dashboard and lots of gloss black. There’s a leather wrapped steering wheel and digital driver display set above it. This is a little different to the set up in most other cars and may require you sit a bit higher to see everything on the screen. There’s also a large touchscreen with wireless Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, There are separate buttons underneath to adjust the climate control.

The cabin of the Solterra
The cabin of the Solterra

The Solterra is very well equipped with standard features on the Limited model including heated front and rear seats, keyless entry, 360 camera, digital rear view mirror and many safety features. The Touring adds a double sunroof, synthetic leather seats, power adjustment for the front seats, wireless smartphone charging and a Harman Kardon stereo with subwoofer.

Practicality

The Solterra offers generous space inside for passengers. The rear seat is quite wide and there is a lot of legroom thanks to a flat floor the width of the cabin. The floor is quite high however so the rear bench doesn’t offer much in the way of thigh support but the rear seats do recline. A powered tailgate comes as standard and opens to reveal 452 litres. The boot is well designed with a wide opening and low sill making it easy to pack and unpack. There’s also a little underfloor storage.

Battery

The Solterra uses the same battery as the BZ4X. It’s a 71kWh battery (64kWh usable) with up to 465 kilometres of range (WLTP). A heat pump comes as standard but in real world driving the dual motor, all wheel drive set-up proves not to be the most efficient, while turning on the ventilation has a significant impact on the estimated range. Over a week of driving my average consumption was about 23 kWh per 100 kilometres, which indicates a range of 278 kilometres on a full battery charge.

The Subaru Solterra is the brand's first full electric vehicle
The Subaru Solterra is the brand’s first full electric vehicle

Driving

Subaru as a brand is known for its rugged reliability and the Solterra comes to market as dual motor, all wheel drive only (the Toyota BX4Z is available in a front wheel drive variant). Aside from good ground clearance, the Solterra has a few other off-road tools on board like Grip Control, a hill descent control and X Mode, which allows you to switch between two preconfigured modes – Snow/Dirt and Deep Snow/Mud. If you find yourself in a muddy field, you will be glad to be behind the wheel of the Solterra.

Performance figures are good with 218hp, 336Nm of torque and 0-100kmh in just 6.9 seconds. The Solterra feels very responsive and sprightly on the road. It’s an excellent handling car with a low centre of gravity from the battery position giving a nice feeling of balance and dynamism to the car. There’s not too much lean in corners and the grip is superb. There are also a few driving models like normal, eco and power. There’s paddle shifters behind the steering wheel to adjust the regenerative braking. It feels very solid and planted on the road though the experience is upset by quite a lot of road noise in the cabin at high speeds. Still the ride quality is excellent, and the Subaru takes on Irish roads with aplomb.

Rear seating in the Solterra
Rear seating in the Solterra

Charging

DC fast charging is possible up to 150kW for an 80% charge in about 30 minutes. AC charging is possible up to 7kW.

Pricing

The Solterra has recently had a price cut to keep it competitive and now starts from €44,995.

Verdict

The Subaru Solterra is a significant car for Subaru and stays true to Subaru’s incredible 4×4 heritage, being perfectly set-up for winter roads, muddy fields and dirt tracks. It’s a nice car to be behind the wheel and feels like a good quality offering. It’s loaded with equipment and looks pretty smart too. The range is a little disappointing and others offer more range for similar money. But if you can live with that, the Solterra is a lovely car.

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Written by Caroline Kidd

Founder and Editor of Changing Lanes, Juror for Irish Car of the Year

The Subaru Solterra is one of the best EVs for off-roading
The Subaru Solterra is one of the best EVs for off-roading