10 May 2024

Subaru Solterra review: Trish Whelan, Irish Car

Solterra is a game changer for the Subaru brand as it is the Japanese carmaker’s first all-electric AWD SUV which you could also call a compact family Crossover. Subaru say it is the most technologically advanced Subaru ever made. In a joint collaboration with Toyota, Solterra is built in Japan on an all-electric architecture that is also used for the Toyota bZ4X Crossover. 

In looks, the car certainly has that appealing look with a front that isn’t overly aggressive as a family car, and a sloping roof and 18-inch alloy wheels. It’s a different style to most cars its size. That said, tall people may find it difficult in getting in and out even with the front passenger’s seat set as low as possible. 

The very stylish but quite dark interior was lightened somewhat by light from the two sunroofs and the grey tweed-like material on the front passenger’s side that stretches across the dash. There’s good space up front along with very good headroom. Fabric covered seats proved to be very comfy; the driver’s has power adjustments and lumbar support as well as two memory settings. The huge width of the front armrest intrudes on front occupant space and my passenger found it quite difficult to clunk click his seat belt into its very low slot. 

The big and very colourful 12.3-inch central screen is a perfect shape for the size of the dash. You can touch, swipe or drag to navigate your way around it or simply use a voice command. This infotainment system features wireless connectivity for Apple CarPlan and wired Android Auto integration. It also turns into a really good reversing camera with a separate overhead view of the car. You can change the view to include a moving video of all around the car. Just swipe across the screen to access the Apps available which included Google Maps, Skype, Waze and WhatsApp. 

I have mixed feelings about the driver’s information screen being set so far back in on the dash. That said, it works well and its height allows you see your current digital speed at almost eyesight level. Both screens have beautiful graphics. There are buttons for front seat heaters, dual zone air conditioning, and heated steering wheel. There’s a decorative transparent cover to the wireless charging pad on the flat of the central console and a pair of good big cupholders. The automatic gear charge ‘knob’ is on the flat central stack is easy to get the hang of pretty quickly. Beside it is a button for the Drive Mode options. Big side mirrors come with very good blind spot monitors. Tall people will have no problem with legroom as there’s no transmission tunnel to get in the way of feet. There are two seat heaters here for extra comfort. 

Boot capacity with all seats in use is up to 452 litres and the high boot floor is flush with the sill. Both my Limited edition review car and the Touring version use a 71.4kWh 150kW AWD system with the usual EV automatic-type transmission. The charging port is conveniently located on the left hand side of the car near the front passenger’s door. When I collected my car, it was fully charged with a range of just 293kms which I thought really poor for a family car. 

Recharging the battery days later showed a possible 325kms of charge available. With a fast charger, you can charge from 20-80pc in around 30 minutes. Or charge at home if you have a 7kW wallbox. Subaru say the car can effortlessly tackle any terrain in any weather, corner with precise control and provide an always-smooth ride as it comes with permanent AWD which is no surprise given Subaru’s decades of off-road experience. But making it an all-electric vehicle is a new departure for Subaru. 

The X-Mode button on the dash is for use in snow and mud while the S pedal drive switch allows you accelerate and decelerate via the accelerator pedal only reducing the need to apply the brake pedal. Ground clearance of 210mm (8 ins) allows you to go off the beaten track, or take the kids camping. Solterra comes with Subaru’s Safety Sense and an array of safety features. 

I found the car a great drive, very steady on the road and when cornering, and its small turning circle ideal for city use. With instant torque of 336Nm on tap, Solterra can go from 0-100km/h in under 7 seconds when pushed which is pretty good for a family car. Road tax on my Limited edition is €120. The car is named by combining the Latin words for ‘sun’ and ‘earth’. 

All Subaru models come with a three year or 100,000km warranty. The electric battery warranty is for 8 years. Solterra was awarded a maximum five star safety rating by Euro NCAP. All Subaru models come with a three year or 100,000km warranty. The electric battery warranty is for 8 years. 

Prices are from €51,495 inclusive of SEAI Grant. Solterra Touring AWD is from €56,495.