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Subaru’s first EV, the Solterra, heralds a new era for the Japanese brand

Hot on the heels of Toyota’s bZ4X, Subaru has unveiled its first battery electric vehicle – the Solterra. Destined to be sold across the brand’s global markets, it shares the same fundamental architecture as the Toyota but with some design tweaks so it’s recognisably a Subaru.

Subaru and Toyota have been working jointly on an EV platform – the e-TNGA – for around three years. The companies have a long history of working cooperatively on petrol cars like the GT86 and its BRZ equivalent, so it made sense to spread the innovation and cost when it came to EVs. Subaru only confirmed it was bringing the resulting SUV to Europe at the end of last year, but in the Solterra we have it.

Platform and powertrain

Being based on the e-TNGA platform and sharing so much with the recently released Toyota bZ4X means that for the most part, if you scratched off the Subaru badges you’d find Toyota ones. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing as the car stacks up quite well in a crowded field of C-segment SUVs, though we’d note that for Subaru’s purposes it is calling it the e-Subaru Global Platform.

As with the Toyota, there will be both a front- and all-wheel drive option. The former has a 201bhp, 195lb-ft motor whilst the latter gets dual 107bhp motors, bringing the total to 214bhp and 247lb-ft. The all-wheel drive version ploughs a familiar furrow for the brand that popularised such systems on road cars and with the Solterra, Subaru is extolling its virtues. Using X-MODE, the separate motors can modulate power, whilst a grip control function further enhances off-road ability.

The battery is 71.4kWh and can be charged at up to 150kW DC or 6.6kW using the on-board AC charger. We assume that the Solterra will gain an 11kW option in due course.

Exterior and interior design

The Solterra has the same dimensions as the bZ4X at 4690mm long, 1860mm wide and 1650mm tall with a generous 2850mm wheelbase. It’s not dissimilar to the Toyota, but uses hexagonal shapes to define it as a Subaru, such as on the blanked off front grille, as well as distinctive headlights and low-level fog lamps.

The interior also shares much with its cousin from Toyota. The low-level instrument panel is retained to offer superior visibility. Luggage space is 452 litres with the seats in place and there’s an optional glass roof which replaces the regular, solar roof panel. Drivers will be happy that there’s a multifunction steering wheel (which controls the front wheels through steer-by-wire tech), whilst the central touchscreen is also augmented by buttons to ensure key functions are accessible at a touch.

Subaru has built the Solterra as a fundamentally safe car beyond the multiple driver aids and electronic crash mitigation systems. The body and platform is built with ‘multiple body skeletons’ which act to absorb collision energy. These not only help reduce the impact on occupants, they also divert energy away and around the power electronics.

Price and availability

Subaru will launch the Solterra into its global markets, including Europe, North America and China, in mid-2022. Prices and UK specs will be forthcoming closer to that time.

Tags: #electric-vehicles

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