Paradigm shift at Subaru. The traditional manufacturer of all-wheel drive cars with boxer engines, in cooperation with Toyota, is launching a robust all-wheel drive vehicle equipped with 2 electric motors and a total output of 218 hp. At first glance, the Solterra falls into the traditional Subaru schema with a rugged exterior appearance and prominent wheel arches. The plastic surrounds and the underbody protection also give an idea of the typical properties for robust off-road use. We tested it intensively in the field.
Especially for rough terrain Subaru over the past decades, value has been placed on traditional values such as permanent four-wheel drive, underrun protection and good visibility. The very large panoramic windows are no longer available in the Solterra. The 360-degree camera system can be used to quickly create clarity on the terrain when manoeuvring, reversing out of a parking space or in confusing situations. With all-wheel drive, driving on soft ground or snow can be managed with less slip and directional stability using the selector switch.
When it comes to the interior, a completely new interior has been introduced thanks to the cooperation with Toyota. The most striking innovation is noticeable as soon as you have taken a seat in the spacious Solterra. Instead of a traditional cockpit behind the steering wheel, there is a driving information display enthroned above the steering wheel, which offers very easy-to-read displays for speed, activated assistance systems and battery charge level. This wheel-up display is an interesting alternative to the usual head-up display at road level. It is always clearly visible, even when wearing sunglasses.
The very generously designed center console is divided into an upper level with controls, a tidy, inductive charging surface for the smartphone and a large storage compartment that ends with an adjustable armrest. A nice gimmick is the removable plastic box from the storage compartment. The lower storage compartment is even larger and is sufficient for the safe storage of laptops, tablets or travel items.
The central information display is also at eye level with the road and is easy to read. Unfortunately, the individual setting options here are quite rudimentary. Otherwise, value is placed on many selector switches and an extensively adjustable climate menu. The individually adjustable seat heaters for the seats in the rear made a positive impression in the Nordic winter. Especially with leather upholstery, it is pleasant to be able to heat the seat surfaces.
The outdoor BEV
Among the popular target groups in Germany Subaru include hunters and forest officials. For this purpose, typical properties are maintained over decades. This always includes a spacious and flexibly used trunk. It can be expanded from 450 liters to up to 1.500 liters with the help of the variably folding rear bench seats.
Off-road properties have also been further developed in the last generations of vehicles. The Solterra also has the popular driving program extensions for demanding tasks. In X-Mode you can experience significantly better performance in winter and during outdoor activities between the snow/gravel program and deep snow/mud program. And this is where the Solterra shows its capabilities on its favorite terrain on different surfaces.
The Solterra can handle inclines and declines on track. With the finely dosed power distribution, only the driver's steering movements are required in principle. The high torque ensures a smooth start. After that, the most important off-road disciplines such as lateral positions, descents or steep climbs can be safely mastered with the BEV Subaru.
The achievable ranges are also contemporary for an electric car. In summer over 400 kilometers should be achievable under optimal conditions. But in winter, high consumption values between 25 and 30 kWh are the order of the day in our tests. With a fully charged battery, 300 kilometers are more likely. However, the waiting times at the charging stations cause disillusionment after the huge driving pleasure off-road. In our test vehicle, we were no longer able to achieve a peak of 60 kW on the superchargers, so the CCS charging processes took over an hour. The single-phase type 2 connection can only be loaded with 7,2 kW.
According to the manufacturer, a software update for the CCS connection and the next facelift is to switch to a three-phase type 2 connection with a charging capacity of 22 kW.
The Solterra brings many traditional values in terms of outdoor properties into the BEV age. The vehicle is comprehensively equipped for everyday hunting and forest work, and this is where its off-road mobility comes into play. On the other hand, the energy consumption is high compared to single-axle drives according to the all-wheel drive qualities.
Test from 2023
How do you like the Solterra?