Don’t expect to see it here before mid-2023, but already the Subaru Solterra has notched up thousands of expressions of interest from brand enthusiasts and those keen to buy into Subaru’s first all-wheel drive EV.
At least, that’s according to Subaru Australia managing director Blair Read, who gave CarExpert an early look at the vehicle, here in Australia for on-going evaluation ahead of its market launch.
“We’ve already shown the car to various dealers and Subaru customers and I can say the number of people who have registered their interest in what is Subaru’s first ever all-electric vehicle runs into the thousands,” Mr Read said.
That’s despite Subaru staying tight-lipped when it comes to pricing and specifications for the 2023 Solterra – a crossover EV and twin under the skin to Toyota’s co-developed bZ4x slated to arrive around the same time – as well as expected supply.
“We’re not talking price and specs yet, because this is an evaluation vehicle, but rest assured we will be competitive with Solterra, given the response from those dealer groups and customers who have seen the vehicle so far,” Mr Read added.
For context, the Kia EV6 kicks off at $67,990.
“They like the bold design and the fact you can still see the Subaru DNA within the car, as well as the size and profile of the vehicle. And, they especially like the technology upgrades and cabin design, which is very different from our existing range.”
While final local specification won’t be released until closer to its launch date, the Subaru chief all-but-agreed Australia would be getting the all-wheel drive (AWD) version exclusively, rather than adding a front-wheel drive to the model mix.
“All-wheel drive is a core part of our DNA, but while I can’t confirm spec today, if you look at what Subaru has been consistent with over the last decade or more, you can probably work it out,” he said.
“Symmetrical all-wheel drive has been such a key element of the brand for so long and we have to do what is right by the brand even when other EV manufacturers might be offering both front and all-wheel drive versions.”
The Solterra gets a 71.4kWh battery capacity and 460km of driving range (claimed), a 160kW power output, and maximum AC and DC charging capacities of 6.6kW of 150kW respectively. That’s less than some rivals in the medium electric SUV space.
“To be competitive in a dynamic market in terms of offerings to customers and the available technology is something we have to be completely mindful [of], so having this evaluation Solterra here is about understanding customers’ requirements, which is why we are not willing to confirm final specifications and pricing,” Mr Read said.
“During this period, we’ve got opportunity to improve in a range of areas given we’ll keep evolving the product, so we’ll see updates in the product and model years. Clearly, we have to be competitive and understand what the customers are looking for but this a very fast-moving environment at the moment.”
Again, Mr Read is keeping his cards close to his chest, but seems to indicate Solterra could at some point very well offer a greater range or more motor power, as Subaru begins to ramp up its electrification strategy.
The Solterra uses a new electric vehicle architecture, co-developed by Subaru and Toyota, which the former brand dubs ‘e-Subaru Global Platform’. While you can definitely see the equivalent Toyota bZ4X design cues throughout the vehicle, there are enough changes to differentiate the two, at least from the outside.
Exterior changes for the Solterra include a revised grille area with unique LED headlamps, fog lights and taillight signatures.
Inside, it’s a different story. Apart from the omission of the steering yoke that features in the Toyota EV as an option, the Solterra’s cabin looks almost identical. That’s not really a bad thing, given it’s a smart, contemporary look and feel with plenty of premium materials and some interesting technology on board.
By all signs, Subaru’s first all-electric vehicle has plenty of following in Australia, but pricing and spec will be critical to its success against already popular rivals like the (supply-constrained) Hyundai Ioniq 5, Kia EV6 and Tesla Model Y.
Stay tuned for more updates as they come to hand, and tell us your thoughts.