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A true permanent 4x4

Published on 16.01.2024

You hear 'Subaru' and immediately think of the Impreza, but the days of the blue car with gold rims are long gone. We're talking about a 100% electric SUV.

Let me tell you a story that most people under the age of 20 probably know little, if anything, about. Today, we're going to talk about a brand that has won numerous titles in the World Rally Championship.

You hear 'Subaru' and immediately think of the Impreza, but the days of the blue car with gold rims are long gone. We're talking about a 100% electric SUV. A little less glamorous, maybe, but no less efficient.

The exterior lines, strongly inspired by the Toyota bZ4X, are pretty clean, and the fact that the two share the same platform will notably enable Subaru to launch a model in Europe in 2024, since the rest of its range is heavily penalised due to its CO2 emissions.

The Solterra’s engine develops 160kW, or 218hp, and 337Nm of torque for a top speed of 160km/h, with the ability to go from 0-100 in 6.9 seconds. The 71.4kWh lithium-ion battery, supplied by Panasonic, recharges at 7kW on alternating current and up to 150kW on direct current.

The interior had a lot of surprises in store, too. Subaru offers two trim levels, six colours and two interiors.

Firstly, the 7-inch digital instrument cluster is set back quite a bit, set into an unusually shaped space. Fortunately, the height- and depth-adjustable steering wheel provides a perfect view of the information displayed by the instrument cluster, where you'll find all the essentials, including speed, instant fuel consumption and, most importantly, the remaining range.

Then, of course, there's the all-in-one floating centre console, which is very large, and multimedia screen. The 12.3-inch screen offers wireless compatibility with both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Above this screen, borrowed from Toyota, the rear-view mirror also has a camera function. Simply pull gently on the small tab at the bottom of the mirror to see what's going on behind you, even when you’re travelling forward - very practical, especially if the boot is full.

Last but not least, the upholstery and dashboard fabric are grey, which is nothing particularly noteworthy, but the interior is pretty ordinary, bordering on austere. That doesn't detract from the undeniable comfort, though, what with the heated and electrically adjustable front seats and the lumbar support provided for the driver. Leather upholstery is also available with heated rear seats (with the Sky Package, which includes a panoramic roof and even a heated steering wheel).

The bench seat at the rear can be folded down and the seat back reclined, which can come in handy if you could do with a few extra litres of volume in the boot. The latter, for its part, has a load volume of between 410 and 452 litres, depending on whether the floor is in the raised or lowered position.

A 4x4 suv that can venture off-road

One of the special features of the Solterra is its permanent 4x4 transmission. Moreover, you can choose between several driving modes and multi-level energy regeneration.

What’s more, its approach angle is 17.7° and its departure angle 25.4°, which won't get you across the Sahara Desert, but it will get you through the greasy mud and even snow with the right tyres. On that aspect, I’d encourage you to watch the test video.

Driving aids notably include blind spot warning, 360-degree vision, sign recognition (which could be better) and adaptive cruise control.

To conclude, then, after over 1,000km of testing, does this Subaru remain true to the brand's DNA?

It's comfortable and quiet and offers real off-road capability and excellent all-round vision. As for the suspension, this is deliberately firmer than the Toyota bZ4X. That said, it really does feature too much hard plastic for its €53,435 price tag. In addition to its limited charging speed, actual consumption is high, especially when the heater is switched on. Advertised at 465km in the WLTP cycle, the trip computer actually indicated 315km at 0°C and 252km with the heating on.

By Julien Di Luigi

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