an electric Toyota, or almost

Launched very confidentially in France, the Subaru Solterra is nevertheless an electric SUV which does not lack interests. This technical cousin of the Toyota bZ4X has a rather interesting technical sheet, and we went to meet it during its premiere in France at the Lyon Motor Show. The opportunity to take stock before a first dynamic test.

In France, and more generally in Europe, the Subaru brand has somewhat disappeared from the radar screens. However, there is still a range from Subaru, but the engines offered are hardly in line with the new European standards. In France, any thermal model sold by Subaru is subject to a fairly substantial penalty, thus condemning each thermal model of the brand.

Then, generally speaking, Subaru is also a brand that appeals to a fairly specific clientele due to the capabilities of its vehicles. It is no coincidence that the majority of French concessions are found not far from mountainous regions, where customers are more fond of four-wheel drive carsthe specialty of the Japanese manufacturer.

If Subaru continues to perform well in Japan and the United States, the brand has not given up on Europe. Proof of this is that Subaru recently presented its Solterra, an electric SUV closely derived from the Toyota bZ4X. We were able to discover it for the first time in France at an event during the Lyon Motor Show, the opportunity to take a little tour of the owner of this still little-known electric SUV.

Design: like a déjà vu

The result of the technical partnership between Toyota and Subaru, the Solterra is aesthetically (but not only) largely inspired by its Japanese cousin bZ4X. This large SUV 4.69 meters long1.86 meters wide and 1.65 meters high, looks exactly like the Toyota model, apart from a few details.

A keen eye will no doubt have noticed the hexagonal grille, rims and specific optics, and that’s about it. But overall, like the bZ4X, the Solterra’s design displays an unnecessary complexity, like some “old” Toyotas.

The many taut lines generally lack both lightness and homogeneity, and this SUV gives the impression of being “heavy” even though the proportions are not that impressive. If you want an example to justify our words, we have a few, starting with these black plastic wheel arches spreading more than reason on the bodywork. Another ? The rear part has a lighting signature which extends over the entire width, with a downward extension of the optics which gives a not very happy look to our Solterra.

Interior: it blows hot and cold

Inside, it doesn’t exude joy of living either. On the other hand, regarding living space, electrics have a definite advantage thanks to completely or almost flat floors. We will come back to this below, but the Subaru Solterra is based on the e-TNGA platform dedicated to electric vehicles from the Toyota group, with batteries located in the floor.

With its generous wheelbase of 2.85 meters, the Solterra is welcoming, with very good legroom for rear passengers. However, and as on the bZ4X, the thick floor reduces headroom and not all tall people will be comfortable.

In terms of the trunk, it’s a little less glorious, since it loses what the passengers gain for their legs. Subaru announces a capacity of 452 liters, a figure in the low average for the category. Don’t count on a trunk at the front, the famous ” frunk » in Tesla parlance, since there simply isn’t one. The trunk nevertheless benefits from a double bottom where you can store the charging cables. Ah, and to finish with the storage part, like the bZ4X again, there is no glove box. It’s strange and seriously impractical.

At the wheel, and this will be verified during a first test, the Subaru Solterra does not offer an optimal driving position to its driver. We find a bit of the same problem as at Peugeot, with a small steering wheel which hinders vision on the small screen of the seven-inch instrument cluster. The latter displays the most useful information, such as speed, navigation, or even consumption.

The 12.3-inch central screen which manages the infotainment section is very readable, with good contrast despite the artificial lights of the Lyon Motor Show. The GPS system seems to be generally smooth and up to date, even if it doesn’t benefit from a journey planner and charging. Perhaps a future update should correct the situation, but that doesn’t seem to be in the pipeline, like for the Toyota bZ4X.

Within this infotainment system, technology enthusiasts will be a bit disappointed, since there isn’t much to do. Going on TikTok or playing video games is out of the question, the Subaru Solterra system is as simple as possible. Apart from connecting your phone to it and listening to music, there is nothing else. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are obviously there.

The Subaru Solterra receives four USB-C sockets, two at the front and two at the rear as well as inductive charging for smartphones. The front seats are heated and ventilated while the rear seat is only heated. Not bad for this electric SUV, especially since most of this equipment is available as standard.

It’s a detail, but the materials are of fairly average quality and the atmosphere is quite austere. Nevertheless, it seems rather well built and well finished, but it does not necessarily correspond to European standards at this price level.

Motorization, autonomy and recharging

The technical chapter holds no surprises, especially if you are already familiar with that of the bZ4X. The two manufacturers have in fact jointly designed a platform dedicated to 100% electric. The only difference, is that it is called e-Subaru Global Platform on one side and e-TNGA on the other.

The Subaru Solterra has a lithium-ion battery of 71.4 kWh which is housed under the floor and is an integral part of the structure. Known to be a specialist in all-wheel drive, Subaru only offers the four-wheel drive version in France.

We find two electric motors, one on each axle, for a cumulative power of 160 kW, i.e. 218 hp. Subaru announces a range of 465km according to the WLTP cycle, or 15 km more than the Toyota bZ4X with the same engine. The machine is equipped with 7 kW alternating current charging and 150 kW direct currentenough to go from 20 to 80% in less than 30 minutes on a suitable terminal.

Price and availability

Prices for the Subaru Solterra were announced last April, but the brand quickly revised its copy in France. Indeed, the model surprised with its high prices, particularly compared to its twin which starts at 55,000 euros.

The Subaru was announced at 64,990 euros, while the Toyota (with four-wheel drive configuration and 218 hp) is priced from 58,000 euros. In both cases, given the technical proximity between the two SUVs, apart from having a slightly more original coat of arms, there was nothing that tipped the scales for the Solterra.

But in recent weeks, Subaru has revised its prices. Now, in the Comfort version, the price is 59,990 euros. As is often the case with Japanese manufacturers, at this price, the equipment is generous with, as standard, LED headlights, 18-inch rims, adaptive cruise control, automatic high beams, lane keeping assist, blind spot monitoring, vehicle exit assistance, 360° vision, dual-zone automatic air conditioning, navigation on 12.3-inch screen, heated front seats and even the electric tailgate.

For its part, the Luxury finish has also seen its price drop by 5,000 euros and now costs 63,990 euros. As standard, we find the panoramic glass roof, 20-inch rims, heated steering wheel, Harman Kardon audio system (10 HP) and even the induction smartphone charger.

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