Subaru Solterra (2024) review: a Subaru in name only? | CAR Magazine

Subaru Solterra (2024) review: a Subaru in name only?

Published: 07 May 2024 Updated: 07 May 2024
Subaru Solterra, grey, low front three-quarters, static
  • At a glance
  • 3 out of 5
  • 3 out of 5
  • 3 out of 5
  • 3 out of 5
  • 3 out of 5

By Graham King

Senior Staff Writer for Parkers. Car obsessive, magazine and brochure collector, trivia mine.

By Graham King

Senior Staff Writer for Parkers. Car obsessive, magazine and brochure collector, trivia mine.

► Subaru’s first purpose-built EV
It’s a rebadged Toyota
Impressive off-road ability

The Solterra is Subaru’s first attempt at an electric vehicle. Well, we say it’s Subaru’s first attempt, but it’s actually a rebadged Toyota bZ4X. Of course, this isn’t the first time the two Japanese brands have partnered on a car, though a biggish electric SUV that rivals the Kia EV6 and Tesla Model Y is a very different prospect to the GT86/BRZ rear-wheel-drive coupe twins.

There’s little evidence of Subaru’s rallying heritage in the Solterra, either. However, it does promise a pain-free ownership experience, first-rate reliability and even decent off-road ability. All backed up by Toyota’s typically thorough engineering.

But does it deliver on that promise? More importantly, is there anything that about it that’s distinctively Subaru? Or does it just feel like a Toyota with different badges?

Subaru Solterra, grey, high front, off-road

What’s new?

You could be cynical about the rebadging process that turns a Toyota bZ4X into a Subaru Solterra, but there’s something amusingly old-school about the approach. All that’s different about the Solterra are the front bumper, badges and wheel designs. That’s it.

The Solterra uses the same Toyota-developed platform as the bZ4X, the same Toyota-developed body, the same Toyota-developed interior and infotainment system.

However, there is Subaruness in it. For a start, the slightly overwrought plastic body cladding looks more authentic here than on the Toyota, fitting better with Subaru’s rufty-tufty image. It’s also all-wheel-drive only courtesy of twin electric motors – the bZ4X is available with front-wheel-drive – and has Subaru’s X-Mode off-roading software.

Subaru Solterra pair, off-road driving

What are the specs?

Sadly, Subaru hasn’t realised the monster power gains that other manufacturers achieve by added a second electric motor. The Solterra has a relatively modest 215hp and 248lb ft, though that instant hit of electric torque whips its along from 0-62mph in just 6.9 seconds. Top speed is limited to 100mph. Sadly, a pumped-up WRX version isn’t on the cards.

The car is based on Toyota’s eTNGA ‘skateboard’ platform – the electrified version of the Corolla and RAV4’s underpinnings – with conventional MacPherson strut and double wishbone rear suspension. The 71.4kW battery is a structural element within the platform and the motors are mounted on the axles.

At 4.7-ish metres long, the Solterra is on the same scale as key rivals like the Kia EV6, Skoda Enyaq, Nissan Ariya and Tesla Model Y. It’s not too heavy, either, at a smidge over 2000kg. The coupe-alike (or hatchback-alike, if you prefer) body shape is on-trend, the lack of a rear wiper is irksome. However, the little corner spoilers above the back window help to keep the view out clear. Apparently.  

Subaru Solterra, red, rear, fording river

Range and charging

This is where the Solterra starts to fall short. With the 71.4kWh battery, it registers a WLTP range of 289 miles in entry-level Limited trim and just 257 miles in top-spec Touring form – thank the 20-inch wheels for that. Considering there are many rivals that go well past the 300-mile mark, that’s not really good enough. A long-range Ford Mustang Mach-E can manage 379 miles, for instance, and the Kia EV6 can go up to 328 miles.

At least it’s now fitted as standard with a heat pump – early versions weren’t, which caused cold weather range to tumble. It can recharge at 150kW, which Subaru claims realises a 10-80% charge in 30 minutes. But if you’re stuck with 7kW domestic charging, a full recharge at home would take about 10 hours.

What’s it like to drive?

Performance is certainly brisk off the mark and there’s plenty of traction if you boot the throttle on a wet road. Torque is still pretty meaty if you need an overtaking burst from, say, 40-70mph. It’ll happily rock along at motorway speeds, but power inevitably tails off once you get much above that level. There’s a fair bit of wind noise and road roar at high speeds, but not enough to spoil a long journey.

It’s more competent than you might expect in corners, as well. It’s not remotely sporty or engaging, but it feels more compact than it is, the steering’s accurate and has some weight to it, and the suspension is entirely unbothered about big mid-corner lumps and holes. So, if you’re minded to get a shift on cross-country, the Solterra won’t hold you back. It’s certainly more adept than the VW ID.4, if not quite as much as a Kia EV6.

Subaru Solterra, grey, front left three-quarters, static

More impressive, though, is the Solterra’s genuine off-road ability. 210mm of ground clearance (class-leading, Subaru claims) combine with good approach and departure angles, and ample, easily modulated power to make it an absolute doddle to scale steep slopes and traverse deeply rutted tracks.

The X-Mode system includes Snow/Dirt and Snow/Mud modes designed to keep the wheels turning whatever the conditions. And there’s very clever automatic hill descent control – just crawl over the brow and the car will hold that speed on the way down. But it needs the right tyres. With road rubber it made a bit of a meal of mud and slipped and slid down slopes. But not alarmingly so.

What’s it like inside?

As with the exterior, the Solterra’s interior is all-but identical to that of the bZ4X. Which means the driver has a high-set digital instrument display and smaller steering wheel in the same vein as Peugeot’s i-Cockpit setup. And it’s as divisive here as it is in the French cars. It works perfectly well for my 5ft 10in frame, but others struggle to get comfortable and see the display.

Unusually, there’s no glovebox in an attempt to make the cabin feel more spacious. There’s a decent amount of storage space dotted around the cabin, though, including a large platform under the centre console. Touring spec comes with a wireless phone charger.

A 12.3-inch touchscreen infotainment system dominates the dashboard. It looks good, responds promptly and is easy enough to find your way around. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity (the latter wired, for some reason) and satnav come as standard. Thankfully, there are haptic buttons for the climate control.

Subaru Solterra, dashboard

There’s tons of passenger space front and back, though the skateboard chassis means you sit with your knees quite high. Long-legged passengers might wish for better thigh support but the seats are perfectly comfortable and supportive in corners. Front and rear seat heating comes as standard.

Boot space is less than generous. The Limited model has 452 litres; Touring spec comes with a subwoofer that reduces space to 441 litres. By comparison, the Audi Q4 e-tron has 520 litres of space, while the Skoda Enyaq has 585 litres. The Solterra’s boot is quite shallow, too, the steeply sloping back window reducing height.  

Before you buy

The Solterra’s entry-point price of over £52,000 might look a bit steep, but Subaru is offering some extremely competitive finance deals that actually look pretty good value. Subaru’s largely family-owned dealers have an excellent reputation, and their customers keep coming back.

Being mostly a Toyota product, the Solterra should live up to Subaru’s reliability record, as well. Though it only has a three-year warranty, rather than the 10 years of coverage that’s available under Toyota’s Relax plan. The battery is covered for eight years or 100,000 miles.

Subaru Solterra, grey, rear, off-road driving


The Subaru Solterra competes in an increasingly crowded sector of the car market and, on paper at least, it does little to distinguish itself. It’s good but not great to drive, boot space is on the stingy side, range is rather poor.

But it’s not without merit. It’s very solidly built, comfortable and should be more or less bulletproof. We were genuinely impressed with its off-road ability, as well. Throw in the eye-catching deals available from friendly dealers and you might be tempted to take the plunge.


Price when new: £52,495
On sale in the UK: Now
Engine: Twin electric motors; 215bhp, 249lb/ft combined
Transmission: Single-speed transmission; all-wheel-drive
Performance: 0-62mph in 6.9secs; top speed 100mph
Weight / material: 2015kg
Dimensions (length/width/height in mm): 4690mm long; 1860mm wide; 1650mm tall


Photo Gallery

  • Subaru Solterra, grey, low front three-quarters, static
  • Subaru Solterra, grey, high front, off-road
  • Subaru Solterra, grey, front right three-quarters, static
  • Subaru Solterra, grey, front left three-quarters, static
  • Subaru Solterra, wheel detail
  • Subaru Solterra pair, off-road driving
  • Subaru Solterra, grey, rear, off-road driving
  • Subaru Solterra, red, front, fording river
  • Subaru Solterra, red, rear, fording river
  • Subaru Solterra, badge detail
  • Subaru Solterra, boot space
  • Subaru Solterra, front seats
  • Subaru Solterra, dashboard

By Graham King

Senior Staff Writer for Parkers. Car obsessive, magazine and brochure collector, trivia mine.