Real life review: A week with the Subaru Solterra

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Author: | Updated: 27 Nov 2023 10:42

We've recently had the pleasure of getting up close and personal with the all-new Subaru Solterra here at Leasing.com. Considering its enticing price point and impressive standard kit, we thought it was worth a look.

So, what’s it like? Below, we delve into all the key areas of Subaru’s first ever production electric vehicle.

Subaru Solterra

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What is it?

Subaru has been known as one of the foremost manufacturers when it comes to building tough all-wheel drive cars. Think Outback. Think Legacy. But the Solterra is something a little different – being the brand’s first EV, it was bound to be.

When it comes to living up to the Subaru badge, the brand’s first EV is off to a strong start.

If you thought the silhouette looked familiar, you wouldn’t be wrong; it shares lots of parts with the Toyota bZ4X. But it’s not a parts bin car – these two cars were very much co-designed and have their own distinct personalities.

Subaru’s influence is clear in the drivetrain department; unlike the Toyota, the Solterra can only be specified as an all-wheel drive vehicle. So when it comes to living up to the Subaru badge, the brand’s first electric vehicle is off to a strong start.

Subaru Solterra front angle

Styling

Picture a harmonious blend of Subaru's classic design cues with a futuristic twist. That pretty much sums the Solterra’s looks up. It’s quite a large car. After all, this is a model that aims to offer an alternative to rivals like the Tesla Model Y and even the Ford Mach E.

This is a model that aims to offer an alternative to rivals like the Tesla Model Y and even the Ford Mach E.

Clean lines abound, with the angular front end featuring LED headlights, a sharply creased grille-less bumper. You’ll find Subaru’s insignia proudly protruding from the middle, while it gets durable black body cladding – another continuation of the rugged, Subaru tradition.

The rear end is equally distinctive, and all in all it’s a model that manages to stay true to Subaru’s other cars while embracing an electric future. A number of vibrant colours are available too, while large 18in or 20in alloy wheels feature, depending on specification.

Subaru Solterra interior 2

Interior and tech

Step into the Solterra and you're greeted with a premium-feeling interior. Traditionally Subaru has offered durable, premium and intuitive interiors. For the most part, the Solterra is a continuation of this.

The only area where this doesn’t ring quite as true as it used to is with the tech. The Solterra we tested was the range-topping Touring, which features a 7in digital driver display and a 12.3in touchscreen infotainment system.

Medium-2918-Solterra

It’s an impressive set-up, but combined with the various EV-specific controls, it took a little getting used to. The safety and driver assist system are excellent, but it might take a while to get your head around its capabilities.

The Solterra’s cabin is a comfortable place to spend time.

The infotainment system, however, was flawless, offering both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capabilities. Other tech was impressive too, with a vivid 360-degree panoramic camera system, navigation and a cool digital rear-view mirror camera featuring on the Touring model we tested.

All in all, the Solterra’s interior is a comfortable place to spend time. Whether you’re driving or a passenger, there’s enough room and toys to keep everyone happy and it certainly stands up well next to key rivals in terms of quality and specification.

Subaru Solterra front driving

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Drivetrain

Underneath the Solterra's sleek exterior lies a cutting-edge electric powertrain that upholds Subaru's reputation for rugged durability. This is primarily because, unlike its Toyota sibling, the Solterra is only available in all-wheel drive form.

All trim levels feature this all-wheel drive layout, which utilises two electric motors to produce 215hp – that’s actually slightly more than the equivalent all-wheel drive version of the Toyota.

The X-Mode is a prominent feature of the Solterra, and is there to optimise the drivetrain’s behaviour depending on the conditions.

Subaru Solterra wading

This puts it a cut above other all-wheel drive EVs, and seemed to work well. We appreciate it’s never going to be a hardcore off-roader, but it’s nice to see an electric vehicle that can hold its own when the going gets tough.

Official range stands at around 222 miles, and we managed to achieve between 160 and 170 miles in the real world between charges.

All trim levels feature this all-wheel drive layout, which utilises two electric motors to produce 215hp.

That’s around average, although there are certain EVs that can eek out more range if that is a top priority. But in daily use and using a 43kWh charger, we found the Solterra to be more than good enough from a range perspective.

Subaru Solterra wheel details

Behind the Wheel

With its electric motor generating substantial torque, the Solterra offers brisk acceleration and a remarkably smooth driving experience. Subaru has also ensured the Solterra's charging capabilities are top-notch, offering quick charging and an efficient battery management system that performs exceptionally, even in challenging weather conditions.

It may be a newcomer to the electric vehicle scene, Subaru's dedication to quality and rugged capability still helps the Solterra stand out.

Wondering how the Solterra handles on the road? Well Subaru's expertise in all-wheel drive and road handling shines through, providing a comfortable and confident ride. The Solterra boasts responsive steering and a plush suspension, making every drive enjoyable.

Subaru Solterra interior (1)

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The regenerative braking system in the Solterra offers a seamless transition from acceleration to braking, making driving intuitive and controlled. Overall, the Solterra delivers a well-rounded, enjoyable driving experience that aligns seamlessly with Subaru's legacy of reliability.

Safety is paramount for Subaru, and the Solterra is well-equipped with advanced safety features and driver-assistance systems that elevate the driving experience.

Whether it's adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist, or collision mitigation systems, it’s clear the Solterra is one of the safest cars currently available – backed up by the latest stats from Euro NCAP.

Subaru Solterra EV badge

So should you lease one?

In a world of electric SUVs like the Tesla Model Y and Ford Mustang Mach-E, the Solterra stands out with its Japanese reliability and electric efficiency. While it may be a newcomer to the electric vehicle scene, Subaru's dedication to quality and rugged capability still helps the Solterra stand out. Especially when we take into consideration its price point.

Available from around £300 per month, the Solterra currently represents the best electric crossover on the market when it comes to value for money. There are EVs that you can lease for less, but they won’t feature the impressive tech, capabilities and premium feel of the Solterra. You can check out deals right now by hitting the button below.

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