2023 Subaru Solterra

Subaru’s first battery electric vehicle – the Solterra – made its global debut last night ahead of its planned roll out in North America in mid-2022.

The new Solterra – which essentially means ‘sun’ and ‘earth’ in deference to the BEV’s environmental leaning – sits atop the new e-Subaru Global Platform. Co-developed with Toyota, the new platform was produced specifically for BEV models, utilizing the battery packs as part of the now-more rigid structure, reducing the vehicle’s centre of gravity in the process.

That’s not the end of the Subaru-Toyota connection either, with the former’s Solterra and the latter’s new bZ4X essentially continuing the Japanese marques’ joint venture that started with the BRZ and the 86 almost a decade ago.

2023 Subaru Solterra

2023 Subaru Solterra

Both for example are exactly the same length, width and height – 4,690mm, 1,860mm and 1,650mm respectively – and feature the same 2,850mm. That, interestingly, means the Solterra isn’t too far off being the same size as Subaru’s current generation Forester, and indeed the Ford Mustang Mach-E that’s expected to be among its chief segment rivals.

Both the Subaru and the Toyota are also offered in front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive guise: a single electric motor powers sends 150 kW through the front axle, while two 80 kW front and rear-mounted electric motors send a combined 160 kW through all four wheels on the AWD version. Both options are mated with a 71.4 kWh battery pack compatible with 150 kW DC rapid charging, meaning 80 per cent of the battery should be topped up within half an hour.

While Subaru has not confirmed peak torque, the Solterra will feature X-MODE AWD control, specifically designed for rough and/or loose terrain. Torque and power will be acclimated between both axles – “flexible driving force distribution between front and rear” – to provide maximum grip and traction from all four wheels individually.

2023 Subaru Solterra

2023 Subaru Solterra

Off-road agility shouldn’t affect the Solterra’s electric range too much though. The FWD version is capable of an approximately 530 km, and its AWD alter-ego around 460 km. Interestingly, while the AWD Solterra matches the AWD bZ4X’s range despite being 15 kg heavier – 2,005 kg versus 2,020 kg – the 1,930 kg FWD Solterra could offer up to 30 km more range than the 1,920 kg FWD bZ4X, despite the latter being 10 kg lighter.

Inside, the Solterra shares the bZ4X’s driver instrument cluster, and, most notably, an enormous, centre-mounted infotainment screen. Both seat five passengers. There are a few subtle changes to the outside though, with the Subaru featuring slightly different headlamps, bumpers and front grille treatment. As standard, Subaru’s BEV sits on 18-inch wheels, but 20-inch options will be available on the all-wheel drive version.

The Solterra will also headline Subaru’s stand at the upcoming Los Angeles Auto Show on November 19-28.

Unsurprisingly, that the Solterra “will be the cornerstone of Subaru’s future BEVs” suggests more electric models adorning the pleiades will be along sooner rather than later to push the Japanese brand’s long-term goals. Subaru is aiming for at least 40 per cent of its global sales to come from electrified vehicles by 2030 ahead of a 90 per cent reduction of its average C02 levels, compared with the brand’s 2010 levels, by 2050.

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