NEW SUBARU SOLTERRA

The maker’s first fully electric SUV brings typical Subaru versatility and a strong commitment to innovation.

Subaru is future-proofing its range with a stream of eight battery electric vehicles on its e-Subaru global platform. This transformation starts with the all-wheel-drive Solterra, one of four electric SUVs due by the end of 2026 and a vehicle whose range and capability promises to generate strong initial interest.

Two variants (Solterra and Solterra Touring) are powered by a pair of electric motors and a 71.4kWh battery pack that is designed to retain 90 per cent of its potential after 10 years. A maximum charging speed of 150kW/hr enables 20-80% charging in just 30 minutes and a full charge can yield over 400km of range.

It’s well known that Subaru and Toyota pooled resources to produce their first pure-electric vehicles but, true to Subaru DNA, the Solterra is all-wheel driven and the core technology was naturally supplied by Subaru. The sense of security, control and on- and off-road capability was evident from our first drive and really came to the fore when rain hit on the brisk launch drive between Taupo and Napier.

Our subsequent extended drive was mainly confined to an urban setting, where the Solterra exhibited all the typical BEV hallmarks with brisk, effortless acceleration, silent running, minimal bodyroll and a settled ride. This is one EV that disguises its overall weight reasonably well and the 18-inch wheels with plenty of tyre profile add to comfort on mixed road surfaces. Very manageable dimensions and excellent cameras make for relaxed everyday driving.

Exterior styling is on the distinctive side of inoffensive with some sharp lines and character creases setting Solterra apart from category rivals. Inside, the pared-back cabin is airy and comfortable without being austere. A large central screen dominates, of course, but happily many functions such as the air-con get buttons for instant (and safer) adjustment. The steering wheel is squarish in shape but feels good to twirl and you look well beyond it to a simple instrument panel in a moulding near the base of the windscreen. Elsewhere, numerous storage areas meet the family car brief and rear legroom exceeds that of some luxury saloons, while load space is certainly competitive.

First impressions are of an SUV whose quality really stacks up regardless of which variant you choose. The Touring commands a $5000 premium on account of its leather upholstery, panoramic sunroof, Harman Kardon sounds, 20-inch alloy wheels and wireless phone charger. It can also be ordered with two-tone paint. Every Solterra boasts 210mm of ground clearance to aid adventuring and standard tech includes Subaru Safety Sense with all-round cameras, radars and Intelligent Park Assist, and 10-way electric adjustment for the driver’s seat.

A compelling package, then, and plenty of reasons for Subaru’s loyal customer base to start thinking electric.

 

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SUBARU SOLTERRA

MOTOR Dual electric

BATTERY 71.4kWh li-ion

PEAK OUTPUT 160kW / 337Nm

TRANSMISSION Single-speed auto

DRIVETRAIN All-wheel drive

LENGTH 4.69m

WEIGHT 2080kg

WHEELS 18-inch alloy

TYRES 235/60 (f, r)

0-100km/h 6.9 secs

RANGE CLAIM 485km (NEDC)

PRICE from $79,990

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