The first registered copies of a brand new Subaru will roll on the roads by the end of the summer. We are talking about the new Subaru Solterra electric SUV. The long-awaited addition complements Subaru’s portfolio with a fully electric car. Solterra is Subaru’s first mass-produced electric car. However, the Solterra is as much a Subaru as any other Subaru in everything else.
A basic design and an advanced driver assistance system contribute to world-leading safety for everyone in and out of the car. In addition, the principle of permanent four-wheel drive contributes to class-leading maneuverability, safe road properties, and genuine driving pleasure.
The practical softness, generous spaces, and intelligent functions make it worry-free to load everything from the smallest lunch bag too bulky leisure equipment. An electric SUV that is always ready to take you anywhere to do what you want and need to get done. A vehicle that makes sure you get home safely. These are essential qualities that generations of Subaru owners have learned to expect and appreciate. So that was the task given to the engineers behind Solterra: to guarantee a future for Subaru’s unique qualities in a world where electric power is playing an increasingly important role.
In principle, the Solterra is a car of the same familiar crossover-type as the Subaru XV, Forester, and Outback. With a ground clearance of 21 cm, short overhangs, and insensitive body details, the Solterra exudes the practical solidity typical of Subaru’s cars. However, there is basically a brand new technical platform, the e-Subaru Global Platform.
It is exclusively designed for electric cars but based on the experience gained when the Subaru Global Platform was developed, the chassis base on which all Subaru models are found today. The body itself is designed as a safety cage around the cabin, mostly made of high-strength and hot-pressed steel.
Very accurate strength calculations have led to the service weight being kept low for an electric car. Regardless of the basic version, Solterra weighs a hair over two tons. At the same time, the protective cage is solid and effectively absorbs energy in the event of a collision.
What most clearly distinguishes the e-Subaru Global Platform is a double floor. This floor is designed as a box that protects the batteries and their electronics. As a result, they help increase the torsional rigidity of the entire chassis and lower the car’s center of gravity, leading to safer driving characteristics.
The advanced driver assistance system, Subaru Safety Sense, can be described as a very safety-conscious co-pilot built into the car’s electronics. With functions such as intelligent cruise control with file centering, sign reading, and adaptive high beam, the system has the task of relieving the driver and letting him spend more of his resources on steering the car and reading the traffic. On the one hand, the system warns of dangers that the driver has missed.
In an emergency, the co-pilot can even intervene to avoid an accident by automatically braking or giving way to obstacles, unprotected road users, or games. The system also detects if the driver gets tired and keeps him alert. If the driver can’t be woken up, an automatic emergency brake also turns on the hazard lights and brings the car to a safe stop on the side of the road.
A well-developed chassis and advanced driver assistance systems are two critical components of Subaru’s holistic approach to safety. A third is safe and predictable driving characteristics.
An automobile that communicates how the car moves and reacts to the ground via the steering wheel and pedals contributes to safer driving. It is also a way of thinking about safety that Subaru has instilled in Solterra.
The wheel suspensions are carefully designed for even suspension comfort and high course stability through, among other things, a chassis geometry that counteracts niggling during acceleration and braking. At the same time, increased brakes and a stable steering device with an electric servo give a feeling of direct road contact. This has led to a flexible and alert chassis that makes the Solterra perceived as a smaller and even easier car to drive than it is.
With two equally powerful engines and equally long drive shafts on the right and left wheels, Subaru’s main feature-the permanent four-wheel drive-is not just preserved.
Thanks to the linear power development of electric motors with immediate response, it is also more efficient than ever. The characteristic of electric motors is that maximum torque is available throughout the motors’ entire speed range.
There is always plenty of power, from stationary and perfect conditions to regulate driving power to the wheels that need it most. The electric engines are also very close to the wheels, placed midway between the front and rear wheel pairs.
They drive more directly on the axles than is technically possible with a conventional internal combustion engine and gearbox. It allows the active distribution of torque to work and react faster and more accurately to regulate the driving force in any given situation.
Like in the Subaru XV, Forester, and Outback, the new Solterra electric SUV is equipped with Subaru’s grip assistant X-Mode, a built-in expert on challenging surfaces. When activated, the driver is helped to steer the car through individually controlled wheel spin on all four wheels.
The system also helps to automatically regulate the speed on slopes when the surface is very uneven and slippery. By taking advantage of this, the driver can focus more on his ability to concentrate on choosing tracks and steering the car in the desired direction.
This reduces the probability of getting stuck. As in Subaru’s other models, the X-Mode has two driving programs for varying degrees of rough terrain. The position of snow and gravel improves the grip-ability when driving on loose ground where the tires still have some contact with a solid foundation.
The location of deep snow and mud optimizes the ability to drive in more extreme situations when the tires can no longer reach a solid surface. In addition to the previously known Hill Descent Control, which helps Subaru drivers slow down and stabilize the car on challenging downhills automatically, the Solterra will be the first Subaru with the Grip Control function. Its automatic cruise control with stability control is intended for flat terrain and uphill. Grip Control is adjustable to maintain steady speeds up to 10 km/h. The result is a genuine permanent four-wheel drive.
The new Subaru Solterra electric SUV is 469 cm long and 186 cm wide in terms of size. That makes it slightly larger than a Subaru Forester. But only to the outside. With a wheelbase of 285 cm, the Solterra is a full decimeter longer between the front and rear wheels than the large Subaru Outback! It is noticeable on the inside.
The ample wheelbase has made it possible to create a passenger compartment with a completely flat floor and generous legroom, especially in the rear seat. It can accommodate three adults. The back seat backrest is also adjustable at two angles. Between the comfortable front seats, the flat floor has been used to build shelves and solid storage compartments for small items.
With its long wheelbase and advanced windscreen, the body has also been provided with large door openings for a comfortable entry. The doors themselves are also designed so that their outer sides reach down over the thresholds. As a result, it prevents dirt from penetrating and keeps the steps clean, even after a long ride on muddy gravel roads.
Smart load securing systems and a flexible luggage compartment floor in two height positions have provided a practical and easy-to-use luggage compartment. When the floor is in its highest place, the inner step up to the tailgate opening is no longer there. This makes a flat surface for loading. The new Subaru Solterra electric SUV allows up to 421 liters of luggage. However, if the situation requires a larger volume or extra load height, the floor can be lowered by over seven cm.
The privacy screen can be stowed under the load surface with the floor placed in the upper position. Under the floor, there is also storage space in the form of a 10 liter compartment-suitable for, for example, charging cables.
The new Subaru Solterra electric SUV has two electric motors. One is placed between the rear wheels and one between the front wheels. Both are 80 kW and 168.5 Nm strong, for a combined maximum power of 160 kW (218 hp).
The battery stack on the floor has a total storage capacity of 71.6 kWh. Solterra is energy-optimized down to the level of detail to get the most possible mileage without having to bargain on any standard Subaru feature.
Each fold and incision in the body is designed in a wind tunnel and controls the wind around and through parts of the body so that Solterra cuts through the air as efficiently as possible. When you take your foot off the accelerator pedal or slow down, the engines act as generators and use the car’s motion to charge the batteries.
The driver can easily adjust how powerful this braking force regeneration should be with the help of two paddles on each side behind the steering wheel. The braking force of electric motors can be adjusted in four steps. With maximum regeneration, it is so powerful that the Solterra can be driven without using the brake pedal in many traffic situations.
Each Solterra also includes every conceivable feature that reduces the total energy consumption as standard. This includes heating the batteries and an energy-efficient heat pump, heating or cooling the passenger compartment air.
Equally obvious is a well-developed and easy-to-use multimedia system with navigation and an advanced trip computer that helps the driver to plan the drive and utilize each kWh as efficiently as possible. With fully charged batteries, Solterra has a declared range of 414 km for the fully equipped Touring version and 465 km for the Limited!
Like every Subaru, the Solterra also has extensive standard equipment. The Subaru Solterra Limited entry-level model is already well-equipped with air conditioning, electrically operated front seats, an electric tailgate with adjustable opening angle, a 12.3-inch multimedia screen with wireless smartphone integration, and plenty of strategically placed USB C sockets in the passenger compartment.
With the Subaru Solterra Touring, 20-inch wheels, synthetic leather upholstery, an electrically adjustable passenger seat, and a memory function for the driver’s seat are added, and electric heating in the rear seat and steering wheel.
The wait for Solterra has been long, but it will soon be over! The news of Subaru’s first electric car was released in December 2020. Five months later, the name was revealed, and in November 2021, the official world premiere was held in the form of a live broadcast from Japan. During the spring, pre-series copies could be seen at a few retailers, and the first series-produced copies will arrive very soon.
With Solterra, Subaru continues its more than 50-year-old tradition of uncompromisingly achieving the highest possible protection for everyone who travels in the car and that outside. It is a work based on the “zero vision,” which is Subaru’s plan to get rid of all accidents that injure people by 2030.