Due mid-year, Subaru’s first battery electric offering could undercut its chief rivals, despite the brand promising Solterra will arrive only as an all-wheel-drive
Blair Read, managing director of Subaru Australia, told Chasing Cars that Solterra would “sit alongside Outback towards the top of the (Subaru) range. A vehicle the size of Solterra, displaying all the characteristics of a Subaru with capability, safety and performance, it will sit in that territory.”
Subaru has just launched a turbocharged version of its Outback wagon, with the range-topping Touring XT model priced at $55,990 plus on-roads.
Meanwhile, the brand’s performance-focussed WRX tS Sportwagon, at $57,990 before on-roads, is the priciest model in the brand’s current line-up.
The Solterra EV’s price will inevitably eclipse this due to battery expense, plus Subaru eschewing a potentially cheaper two-wheel-drive version.
Subaru Australia website’s has a page where you can register interest, and hammers home the brand’s AWD ethos and how Solterra will feature its “renowned symmetrical all-wheel-drive capability.”
Solterra’s Australian arrival time, specification and price are yet to be revealed, but on-sale by mid-year is likely.
If we look to other markets, Japan’s AWD Solterra costs around $69,000, while a cheaper front-drive version is closer to $63,000.
Subaru UK has also opted only to sell an AWD Solterra. Its base version costs a whopping $87,000 when the exchange rate is applied.
There’s better news if we look to North America. Its AWD Solterra starts from US$44,995 ($64,500), plus they enjoy a larger 72.8kWh battery.
The Solterra’s twin-under-the-skin Toyota BZ4X is due to hit showrooms in the final quarter of this year, after initially being slated for late 2022. This makes the Subaru Solterra certain to beat the Toyota to market.
Chasing Cars editor Tom Baker speculated last month the BZ4X would cost between $70-75,000, following Sean Hanley, Toyota Australia’s vice president of sales and marketing, telling him: “this car (the BZ4X) will not be a cheap car.”
Making the Solterra land with a sub-$70,000 tag – undercutting the medium SUV Tesla Model Y’s $72,300 (RWD) asking price – would appear a savvy move.
Hyundai’s Ioniq 5 must also be considered an EV rival – its entry-level RWD Dynamiq starts at $69,990 plus on-roads. Any dollar figure starting with a ‘6’ in the EV space holds something of a psychological advantage.
It’s a five seat, five door EV of similar size to Subaru’s Forester SUV, albeit with just a 441L boot. It’s built on the e-Subaru Global Platform, the brand’s dedicated EV architecture co-developed with Toyota.
Solterra’s 71.4kWh battery powers 80kW electric motors over each axle, combining for a peak power of 160kW. Torque’s a decent 338Nm, propelling the EV to 100km/h in 6.9-seconds.
Subaru’s UK website says the range (WLTP) is 465km. It can fast DC charge at up to 150kW, meaning the battery takes about 30 minutes to go from empty to 80 per cent.
Along with permanent AWD, Subaru’s smart X-Mode has been upgraded for use in Solterra. At the push of a button it helps traction and ability in deep mud, snow and on slippery slopes.
There’s hill descent control and impressive 210mm ground clearance (similar to a Subaru Outback’s), hinting at serious electric off-roading potential. That alone would give the AWD Solterra an appealing point of difference over rivals.
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