Electric SUV almost certain to arrive Down Under in 2023, adding a crucial tech-leading EV to Subaru’s local line-up
Subaru Australia looks set to join the EV club in 2023 with the all-electric Subaru Solterra.
The battery-powered mid-size SUV was first revealed in late 2021 and is yet to be confirmed for Australia, but carsales understands it’s a done deal and an announcement is expected in the coming weeks.
Subaru’s first electric SUV has been co-developed with Toyota in the same way as the Subaru BRZ and Toyota GR 86 sports car joint-venture. The Japanese brands’ EV tie-up has spawned an all-new EV platform (called e-TNGA for Toyota, e-SGP for Subaru) and the Subaru Solterra and Toyota bZ4X EV twins thus far, with more models to come.
Subaru Solterra pricing in the USA starts at $US44,995 ($A62,000) for basic versions and rises to $US51,995 ($A72,000), but Aussie prices are likely to be closer to all-wheel drive versions of electric SUV rivals from Korea including the award-winning Kia EV6 (from $67,990) and Hyundai IONIQ 5 (from $71,900).
Chatter around the Subaru Solterra’s local arrival ramped up over the past few days when Subaru Australia’s public website reportedly published confirmation of the new model’s local release next year, stating “The all electric Subaru Solterra hits Australian roads in 2023”, before being quickly removed.
A spokesperson for Subaru Australia told carsales: “We’re not aware of anything on the website relating to this.”
However, Subaru Australia did confirm it is “working closely with the factory on Solterra”.
Given potential customers can register their interest in the ground-breaking new model via a dedicated Subaru Solterra section of the website, it would be unlikely for the car-maker to then declare the Solterra will off-limits to Aussies.
In the US, all Solterra models come reasonably well equipped, providing a solid guide as to what we can expect here. Standard features include heated seats and mirrors, a digital driver’s display, LED headlights, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and five USB ports.
Top-spec models add ventilated seats, a panoramic sunroof, two-tone exterior paint work, a bigger 12.3-inch central touch-screen, wireless phone charger, 360-degree surround-view parking camera, Harman Kardon sound system, a roof spoiler and 20-inch alloy wheels.
It’s not known what model grades or powertrain options will be offered locally, but some markets get a single-motor front-drive Solterra with a cruising range of more than 500km (WLTP) thanks to its 71.4kWh lithium-ion battery pack.
The dual-motor, all-wheel-drive layout that uses the same battery pack but delivers slightly less range – around 460km (WLTP) – is likely to be the only powertrain option in Australia given the brand’s local obsession with AWD.
Based on North America’s more stringent EPA efficiency measuring protocol, the AWD Subaru Solterra is good for a travelling range of 367km (228 miles).
Unlike its Korean rivals, the Subaru EV does not have an 800-volt electrical architecture or 350kW ultra-fast charging capability. The maximum battery recharge rate for the Subie is 150kW via a DC fast-charger. At this rate, the Solterra’s battery can be charged to 80 per cent in half an hour.
Subaru is spruiking the new Solterra EV as an adventurous vehicle, with a unique off-road mode, ‘Grip Control’ slow-speed descent/ascent system and ‘class-leading’ ground clearance of 210mm.
Dual-motor models pump out a combined 160kW/336Nm, which is fairly modest in the EV space, as is a 6.9sec 0-100km/h acceleration time.
Despite axing the iconic WRX STI, Subaru is toying with the idea of a sporty, street-savvy STI-badged version of the Solterra too.
It’s not clear when the Subaru Solterra will be launched locally in 2023, but its Toyota bZ4X twin should pip it to the post.
Originally set for a late 2022 arrival, Toyota Australia’s first EV could now slip into early 2023 but still beat the Solterra’s local release later next year.