As you would expect from Subaru, the Solterra is a more off-road-focused proposition than the Toyota, with all-wheel-drive being standard, thanks to an electric motor at the front and another driving the rear wheels. This makes the Solterra much more appealing to traditional Subaru fans who expect their SUVs to be capable of some mild-to-gritty off-roading, as well as having the ability to keep everyone safe in the worst weather conditions.
To this end, the Subaru Solterra also features an upgraded version of the X-MODE AWD system that provides added confidence on rough roads. You don’t need to be an off-road expert – simply press a button to navigate deep mud, snow or even steep, slippery slopes – all in a controlled, calm, worry-free manner.
There are just 2 trim levels to choose from: Limited (from £52,495) and the Solterra Touring (£55,495). Each gets a 71.4kWh battery giving a WLTP Combined range of 289 miles for the Limited model on 18-inch wheels and 257 for the Touring, which has 20-inch wheels.
Fast DC charging provides 150kW which gives a 20% to 80% charging time of 30 minutes. However, I expect most owners will have a 7.2 kW charger at home and keep the car topped up throughout the week.
Standard spec is very good and includes an Adaptive High Beam System, Headlight Washers, Privacy Glass, Roof Rails and a Rear Spoiler. Inside you get a Heated Steering Wheel, Heated front and back Seats, a 12.3-inch Touchscreen Display with Wireless Apple CarPlay and Wired Android Auto, Sat Nav and a 6-speaker Audio system.
There’s also Keyless Entry, a powered tailgate and Subaru Safety Sense which includes a vast array of driving aids, such as Adaptive Cruise Control, Pre-Collision System Emergency Steering Assist, Lane Departure Alert, Blind Spot Monitoring, Road Sign Assist and Rear Cross Traffic Alert.
Step up to the Touring to add the likes of an 8-speaker Harmon/Kardon Audio System with Subwoofer, Wireless Phone Charging, Faux-Leather Seating, Electric Front seat adjustment, 20-inch Alloys and a huge Panoramic fixed Sunroof with Electric Blind.
Pretty much like a Subaru, in that it feels very well planted on the road, thanks to that permanent AWD system. Its low centre of gravity makes it feel sporty enough and the raised ride height, along with a flat underbelly, gives you confidence to venture off-road without fear that something important is going to get smashed to pieces against a rock.
Both models get a total of 218PS and 336 Nm of torque. The 0-62mph dash takes just 6.9 seconds, which is more than quick enough for most. Acceleration is typically EV – instant and unrelenting – until you get to around 75mph where it starts to level out.
Top speed is 100 mph, but what does that matter? It’s the ability to pull away from junctions or get onto roundabouts with zero hesitation that gives the EV its edge over other vehicles and the Subaru Solterra does that effortlessly.
The steering provides decent feedback while body roll is very well controlled through twistier bends. The ride is on the firmer side of cossetting but just like most Subarus, it’s pliant and doesn’t crash through pot-holes or larger bumps in the road.
On A Roads and motorways, the Solterra is a breeze to drive, with good visibility all around and decent levels of soundproofing which helps reduce stress. The adaptive cruise control works well and doesn’t get “surprised” like some other systems which can lead to harsh braking when someone pulls into your lane.
Brake regeneration can be increased or decreased via the Flappy Paddles behind the steering wheel. I like to set the regen to maximum to get as close as possible to one-pedal driving, although the Subaru doesn’t manage this anywhere as near as the Nissan Ariya does.
There were a couple of niggles, including the intrusive driver-alertness monitor, that told me off every time I scratched my ear or looked out of the side window. There is also the constant beeping when you put the car in reverse. I’m not sure why the driver needs to be told – relentlessly – that the car is moving backwards. If you haven’t figured that out in the first half-second, then perhaps you shouldn’t be driving at all. If it becomes unbearable you can have your local Subaru dealer disable it. Apparently.
All in all though, I found driving the Subaru Solterra an enjoyable experience. I didn’t manage to get off-road in it but I did drive along some very wet and very muddy B roads and the Subaru didn’t flinch once.
Quirky in a couple of respects but overall very good. Quirk number one is the position of the digital dash – it’s way more forward than the norm and almost becomes a Head-Up-Display. This leads to an odd, elongated steering column with the steering wheel being positioned quite low.
And I liked it very much. It’s similar to Peugeot’s i-Cockpit layout where you look over the steering wheel, rather than through it. It’s not popular with many drivers, so I would get down to the dealership and see if it suits you. Having the steering wheel set low enough to get a clear view of the dash makes for a sporty and relaxed driving position.
Having the digital dash so far forward negates the need for a HUD as you’re focused on the road ahead and able to read all essential data without having to refocus on something nearer. A great innovation.
Quirk number 2 is that there is no glove box. Shock, horror. Instead, there is a large space beneath the centre consul that is taken up by one of the biggest user manuals I’ve ever seen. Chuck it on the back seat or into the boot to free up some useful space.
The rest of the cabin is pretty smart, with a 12.3-inch, landscape touchscreen dominating. It’s responsive enough to the touch and comes with Sat Nav but since it has Wireless Apple CarPlay (and wired Android Auto) you’ll find yourself Wazing and Spotifying anyway.
Below the screen, you have sensible push buttons for volume and power, while below that you’ll find climate and demisting touch buttons which are a bit fiddly to use while on the move. I found the heated seat and steering wheel buttons particularly annoying as you have to hit them multiple times to switch off the heating because each touch only takes you down one step.
But Subaru has got the important stuff spot-on – like visibility, driving position and seat comfort. The faux-leather seats in my Touring model looked and felt great – as did the chunky, leather-bound, multi-function steering wheel.
You have to look way down low to find any hard plastics. The cabin is finished to a good standard with textured material stretching across the dash, in front of the passenger. The large piano-black centre console contrasts well with the leather armrest.
The gear selector couldn’t be easier – a twist to the right to go forward or a twist to the left for reverse. Push down and you’re in Neutral. On either side of this, you have buttons for the parking brake and drive modes, including a dedicated button for those X-Mode settings.
Just behind the gear selector is an opening cubby for wireless phone charging, which I never tend to use, on any car, as it always seems to over-heat the phone. Behind that there are 2 large cupholders and a very deep bin beneath that armrest.
In the rear, there is enough space for a couple of 6-footers as head and leg room is generous – even with that panoramic sunroof, which comes with the Touring model. There is no transmission tunnel to deal with either, so 3-abreast is very doable for all but the longest journeys.
The boot is a decent size at 452 litres with the rear seats up. It’s a decent shape too, so getting larger objects in and out shouldn’t prove too difficult. There is underfloor storage in the rear but you’ll find the charging cables take nearly all that space up. There is no “Frunk” either.
The Subaru Solterra ticks a lot of boxes for a family-friendly SUV that’s also good to drive. In other words, it’s a proper Subaru but this time, electric.
It’s well-priced compared to similar sized, AWD EVs and Subarus tend to hold their value too, which could make those monthly finance figures more attractive.
- AT A GLANCE:
- Subaru Solterra Touring
- OTR Price (as tested): £55,495
- Twin Motor Output: 218 PS
- Transmission: Automatic
- 0-62mph: 6.9 secs
- Top Speed: 100mph
- WLTP Combined Range: 257 miles