With a moniker that means ‘Sun’ & ‘Earth’, the first-ever Subaru all-electric, AWD SUV ‘Solterra’ has been announced and we headed overseas (to Waiheke Island) to see its NZ first showing.
Developed to take you out of the city and off to where you’d rather be, essentially exploring all four corners of NZ, the Solterra is a brand new nameplate for the adventurous brand that Kiwi’s know and love – and what’s more, it’s a BEV (Battery Electric Vehicle).
Our venue for the day’s EVent, was at Tantalus Winery, a premium winegrower situated in the heart of the Onetangi Valley on Waiheke Island. The Estate includes 5.3 hectares of vineyards, a winery, a craft brewery and an expansive, light-filled restaurant with a seasonal menu built around fresh, local produce. I wish to point out here that the wines and food are amazing, as since there was no driving involved, we partook in both.
Anyway, back to the Solterra. Once the silk was pulled back, the initial response from many of us was that it looks bigger in the flesh. In fact, at 4.69m long and 1.65m tall, the Solterra nudges up just below the Outback in terms of overall size, added to this it has 210mm of ground clearance and comes packed with next-generation features inside and out.
The AWD EV SUV sits on Subaru’s new e-SUBARU Global Platform, which (in association with Toyota) uses the know-how cultivated with the highly recognised Subaru Global Platform, to create a BEV-dedicated platform that will bring high stability and handling that linearly responds to the driver’s steering operation.
It boasts a rugged yet aerodynamic exterior design with a hexagon shaped grille, contrasting wheel-arch protection, 18 or 20-inch wheels and twin liftgate spoilers that help manage airflow in concert with the full underbody tray for quiet, efficient, and safe driving regardless of weather and road conditions. Along with its ground clearance and limited front and rear overhangs, the Solterra comes with X-MODE all-weather, all-terrain traction system, Hill Ascent and Descent Assist and Grip Control (enabling the Solterra to run at a constant speed, while stabilising the vehicle) that’s ready to take you on all kinds of Kiwi adventures. Oh and Subaru’s epic Standard Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive comes as standard too.
The interior is modern and spacious (flat floors and no glovebox) with a low-mounted instrument panel and a 12.3-inch infotainment touchscreen. It has wireless phone charging capability with Apple and Android connectivity and Harman Kardon audio. The Solterra gives you up to 849L of cargo space and has a rear gate that’s over 105cm wide opening, so you can bring along all the gear you need.
Under the cabin floor lies a 71.4 kWh (355v) Lithium-ion battery that powers two AC synchronous electric motors which combined offer 160kW of power and approximately 460km of range, with 6.6kW AC and 150kW DC maximum charging output. On top of this, they expect that the Solterra’s battery will retain 90% efficiency after 10-years and will offer 8-year. 160,000km warranty.
Subaru reckons that aside from its off-road capabilities, the Solterra will also offer an advanced driving experience with features like an extra responsive sports mode and 1-pedal driving that uses regenerative braking to allow you to keep your foot on the throttle for more convenience.
Not only has Subaru worked with Toyota on the development of the new EV platform but there’s also been collaboration with safety. It has a safer ‘skeleton’ and Subaru’s ‘Safety Sense’ offers up the latest safety technology, including the likes of a pre-collision system, safety exit alert, lane-tracing and 360-degree surround camera.
The Solterra signals a significant acceleration of the evolution of Subaru’s future journey. At the EVent event, Subaru of New Zealand’s Managing Director Wallis Dumper also outlined Subaru Corporation’s future commitments to apply electrification to all Subaru vehicles (EVs and Hybrids) sold worldwide by around 2030. By 2050 the Subaru brand are targeting the reduction of their average C02 emissions by at least 90% (compared with 2010). Subaru Corporation’s ambition is to continually develop and deliver products that meet societal needs and contribute to the environment through advanced technologies, thereby contributing to the protection of the global environment.
The Solterra reveal event was a significant milestone for Subaru’s future journey. Mr Dumper says that after months of speculation, he is extremely happy to confirm Subaru New Zealand will begin its electrification journey with the Solterra available to Kiwi customers in the first half of 2023, with April as the target date.
“Solterra has generated huge interest here and although we can’t confirm pricing at this stage, we are pleased to announce that this SUV EV will have a cruising range per charge of approximately 460km. This will enable Kiwi drivers plenty of travel time between charges, as they head away on their all-electric-powered Kiwi adventures.”
“Preparation is well underway for Solterra. We will have a right-hand drive evaluation model here later this year, which we will be showcasing to potential customers who wish to explore Subaru Country while treading a little lighter. We can’t wait to share more details with you about this exciting addition to the Subaru family.”
“We are thrilled to be adding an electric vehicle to our Subaru line up and are happy to be sticking to our core values by delivering an AWD EV. There is nothing more reassuring than the confidence and safety that AWD provides when driving the last few kilometres to the Bach on a gravel road, or simply crossing a slippery, rain-soaked intersection when the traffic lights change,” Mr Dumper concludes.
Full details, pricing and specs of the Solterra have yet to be nailed down for NZ, however, two models are being discussed with one aiming to be under the magical $80k mark. Either way Subaru says that they will only offer AWD Solterras in New Zealand.