Subaru introduced the new Solterra in Europe in December 2021. They are joining the EV group with Toyota during 2022. As mentioned already in many sources Solterra and Toyota’s bz4x are basically the same car with minimal changes.
However there is at least one key difference which you should be aware of. Especially if you’re considering between these two cars. Subaru has exclusively permanent all-wheel-drive while Toyota’s version will be on demand based all-wheel-drive.
Based on my experience with the Forester. This is one of the most important aspects of the car for me. In bad weather it brings a more stable ride. Of course there are other attributes also which contribute to stability and how fun a car is to drive. Permanent all-wheel-drive is one very important factor to this contribution.
In the European unveil Subaru’s General Manager David Dello Stritto held a quite nice presentation about the Solterra. He answered many questions like how a car without a proper boxer engine could possibly qualify as a true Subaru. Very good question indeed.
He answered that topic through a definition what makes Subaru a Subaru. David’s definition was that Subaru needs to qualify following areas.
Most attentive Subaru enthusiasts may have noticed that the new Solterra is missing the EyeSight system which Subaru has been marketing lately quite much with other models. Interestingly Stritto mentioned the Driving Monitoring System, which can be found currently from the e-Boxer Forester, is missing from the new EV. He mentioned that Solterra has a new safety system. Basically this means that the car utilizes Toyota’s technology here. Though it seems that package includes more or less the same features as the EyeSight. Driver Monitoring is something that is really missing. To be honest. Driver Monitoring is great when it works but too often it fails to work and annoys more.
This qualification was ticked with more power and with a faster acceleration. David Dello Stritto interestingly mentioned that customers used to connect Subaru with fast, fun to drive and powerful cars with a rally heritage. Current lineup is not that fast and he mentioned that even Solterra would not be rocket fast. But the acceleration from 0-100km/h (0-60mph) should be little above 7 seconds. That should be fun indeed, even if it is not rocket fast as claimed by Subaru itself.
Subaru representative said that X-Mode is further developed and the new Solterra should be very capable off-roading too. X-Mode includes hill descent control as it does currently. Forester has dual mode X-Mode and in the new model it’s a single mode which can be activated by pushing a button.
What else comes to toughness Subaru compared that their cars are still in use after a decades of use. They expect the same toughness with the new battery car. Battery should have 90% lifespan left after 10 years of use.
Should you be interested of the new Subaru Solterra
It is definitely an interesting car! And I will test drive it when the chance comes. However Forester has some features that I love so much that I doubt I would trade it to Solterra any time soon. E.g. using dual-mode X-Mode is so convenient with a rotary knob (instead of reaching out a button). Forester’s cargo space appears to be much more usable. Outward visibility is superior in Forester. I know it already without seeing Solterra in person.
Toyota’s platform (i.e. in RAV4) tends to be noisy if you’re cruising on rough tarmac as we have in Finland. This is still a question mark on how the new platform works. Battery pack might help reduce road noise.
Infotainment system is “new”. Meaning it is borrowed from Toyota, which is not a good thing. Subaru’s own Starlink outperforms Toyota’s Entune any time. Luckily Toyota has included Apple’s CarPlay so you really don’t need to fuss with the factory infotainment that much.
After all. Is the current e-Boxer Forester the last real Subaru. Are all upcoming model’s badge engineered Toyotas with some exclusive features. Time will tell.
Solterra will definitely help Subaru with the emission regulations in Europe. Otherwise they would be in big trouble and the whole brand would have to leave European markets. This was kind of a must do for them.
There is nothing bad using Toyota’s technology. I think it is a great thing. Hopefully Subaru preserves their DNA in the upcoming vehicles. Keep them safe, fun and tough!
All images in this post by Subaru Corporation.