Subaru Solterra joins an AWD drive day

Can I take the Subaru Solterra off road

Subaru Solterra is an all new all electric AWD SUV. Not something we usually write about here at OzRoamer. But the Solterra has proven that BEV SUV’s can be both electric and fun off road as well.

Subaru Solterra EV AWD driving off road 1I recently attended the launch where the drive program took in a mix of driving styles. This included motorway driving, winding hilly back roads and an interesting off-road track. This was courtesy of the Scenic Rim Adventure Park, about an hour’s drive from the Gold Coast.

Full details of the launch drive and Solterra can be found HERE

The Solterra is different to almost every other battery electric SUV. Most of them are highway cruisers.

The Solterra is a Subaru, so it has the adventure DNA running through it.

On the drive program we also had the Outback, Forester and Crosstrek. The full model range was on display to show just how the Solterra fits in.


Subaru Solterra Video Review

Subaru Solterra EV AWD Touring off road track driving 3

Quick Highlights

  • All-new, all-electric Subaru Solterra powered by high-voltage 71.4kWh lithium-ion battery delivers 160kW of power and 337Nm of torque.
  • Built on the newly developed dedicated battery electric vehicle (BEV) e-Subaru Global Platform to maximise natural BEV characteristics while delivering a high-rigidity body and Subaru’s renowned dynamic driving performance.
  • Features quintessential Subaru SUV characteristics, Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive, Dual Mode X-Mode with new grip control and high 212mm ground clearance to offer cross-terrain capability in an all-electric vehicle.

Subaru Solterra EV AWD Touring 360 degree cameras
All-New Subaru Solterra Manufacturer’s List Price*

Solterra AWD$69,990
Solterra AWD Touring$76,990

*MLP Includes GST and LCT but excluding statutory charges, dealer costs and dealer delivery. See your dealer for RDAP. Does not include price of options. Some features mentioned in the article are options. RDAP means Recommended Drive Away Price (without options but including all other charges). Pricing is from Redbook as at date of article or from the manufacturer’s website.

Subaru Solterra EV AWD Touring interior front 1

Some quick thoughts

  • Solterra is a stylish mid-sized SUV,
  • It has an adventurous appeal, with muscular wheel arches and sleek frontal grill area.
  • Inside the first impression is there is space.
  • Front seats are especially comfortable.
  • Rear seats are spacious enough to accommodate my bear like frame in comfort.
  • I found the flattened steering wheel enhanced the responsiveness and driver engagement.
  • It also allowed clear view of the driver’s instrument binnacle.
  • There is a large 12.3 inch horizontal central touch screen.

Subaru Solterra EV AWD Touring off road track driving 2

Little features that make the Solterra good off road.

  • Up to 212mm of ground clearance.
  • A smooth under body design with nothing to catch or get caught up on rocks etc.
  • Subaru Symmetrical AWD System
  • In combination with the brilliant two stage X-Mode
  • All new grip control
  • 360 degree camera visibility as well as natural visibility
  • Tuned suspension set up
  • Instant throttle response from electric motor

Subaru Solterra EV AWD SUV electric motor

Motor and drivetrain

Solterra features a high-capacity 71.4kWh battery. NEDC range is estimated at 485km. A more realistic range would be 450km, but that will need to be evaluated on a longer weeks drive program.

Power is 160kW and torque is 337Nm. This drives all four wheels through the Subaru Symmetrical AWD system, with Dual Mode X-Mode with NEW Grip Control Function

Subaru Solterra EV AWD driving 1

What is the Solterra like to drive on road.

Its common knowledge that electric cars can be fast. But usually not as much fun as the Solterra.

There are a number of little factors that combine to make it so.

  • Fine tuned suspension in combination with the steering wheel responsiveness to driver input.
  • AWD dynamics
  • The low centre of gravity for the battery mounting aids with dynamics.
  • The ability to choose the level of regenerative braking from the paddle shift on the steering wheel.

Let me describe one particular section of road on the drove program.

It was an undulating winding road with a few mid corner bumps thrown in.

Coming into the first corner it was downhill, so on the accelerator until we got close to the corner, a few hits of the paddle shifts to get to maximum regenerative braking. The little pedal icon on the dash told me I was in S Pedal Drive

Lift off the accelerator and the regenerative braking did its thing. Tuck the nose into the corner, all four wheels driving for almost perfect Yaw control, see the apex and accelerate out up the hill.

Beautifully balanced, smooth and all the control on your right foot. This is fun!

Mid corner bumps hardly made an impact on the composure.

On the undulating sections, wind the regenerative braking right down and it cruises along just fine thanks.

The Solterra isn’t outright fast but it hums along nicely and is engaging to drive.

What about off road.

Subaru are rightly proud of the adventurous nature of their vehicles. Regular readers will know just how far you can take a Subaru off road in the right hands. They will go further off road than any other AWD SUV.

So, it made sense to take along the range on the drive day to not only reinforce how good they are but just where the Solterra sits in comparison.

The section of track we took at Scenic Rim Adventure Park was challenging for road-based SUVs. However, all the Subaru’s, including the Solterra took it in their stride without fuss.

The Solterra has 212mm ground clearance. Crosstrek has 220mm. Forester has 220mm and Outback has 213mm ground clearance.

Subaru Solterra EV AWD Touring off road track driving 5

Some Perspective

Let’s put that into perspective. The Toyota HiLux SR5 has 216mm, Toyota LandCruiser Prado has 220mm. Nissan X-Trail has 187mm, BMW Ix1 e-drive has 170mm and Mercedes Benz EQA has 209mm ground clearance.

The major factor limiting the Solterra off road is approach and departure angles and road-based tyres.

Underneath the Solterra is almost completely smooth. There just isn’t anything that hangs down to get caught up.

I’m assured by the technical guys at Subaru, that the housing for the battery is super strong and reinforced. So minor scrapes and bumps aren’t an issue.

The permanent Symmetrical AWD system with two stage X-Mode elevates the Solterra to a class  above almost every other electric SUV.

Downhill it simply kept everything in check without any fuss or complaint.

Uphill the new grip control is interesting. It works from 2-10knh in two kmh increments and will hold the speed at the selection.

The 360-degree camera was a bonus on the track as there were a few sections where I couldn’t see wheel placement and its crucial in the Solterra.

So, the Crosstrek is better off road, but the Solterra holds its own with pride.

Well, here is an electric SUV that I would actually consider taking off road.

Don’t mistake this for a rugged SUV, but it will allow a lot more adventurous driving than you may expect.

It may prove an adventurous alternative for EV buyers that want to do more, within range limitations obviously.

Subaru Solterra EV AWD Touring interior 360 degree camera screen 1

Driving Performance

The natural characteristics of BEVs have been combined with Subaru’s legendary features to elevate the driving experience.

Dual Mode X-Mode

Dual mode X-Mode with added new Grip Control function is made available for both Solterra variants. The two modes available are ‘Snow/Dirt’ and ‘Deep Snow/Mud’ and can be activated with a press of a button:

  • Snow/Dirt Mode – achieves a fine balance between slippery surface and ground covering ability for driving on slippery surfaces. Suppresses slipping and enhances stability. On bumpy surfaces applies brakes on spinning wheels to produce an LSD effect.
  • Deep Snow/Mud – causes the tyres to slip and the vehicle to drive in a manner that works through the snow or mud, when driving on softer surfaces. On bumpy roads, applies brakes on spinning wheels to produce an LSD effect.

Working in conjunction with Subaru’s legendary all-wheel drive system, the purpose of X-Mode is to increase traction and control under difficult road conditions.

Subaru Solterra EV AWD Touring off road track driving 1

Grip Control (new to Subaru)

The Grip Control function of X-Mode is only operational when X-Mode is active. It works like cruise control at low speeds, designed to maintain a constant speed of approximately 2-10 km/h in steps of 2 km/hr to prevent slipping on rough roads, on uphill or flat roads. This function helps the driver to concentrate on steering when traversing rough roads.

Subaru Solterra EV AWD Touring off road track driving 4

Drive Mode

Owners can select from three acceleration characteristic models, Power, Normal and Eco.

  • Normal – suitable for normal driving conditions in urban areas.
  • ECO – suitable for driving with a focus on power consumption. Compared to ‘normal’ mode, this helps reduce power consumption by moderating the drive force in response to the acceleration pedal being depressed, and by reducing the operation of the air conditioner (heating/cooling).
  • Power – suitable for crisp handling, such as when driving on mountainous or winding roads. Motor control hastens the response to the acceleration pedal being depressed, for sporty driving with enhanced acceleration performance.

Subaru Solterra EV AWD Touring off road track driving 7

Subaru Solterra Final Thoughts

Yep, I like the Solterra. Its fun to drive, packed with all the goodies people like and feels comfortable.

Subaru Solterra is the first electric SUV that I would consider taking off road.

It is a Subaru, so you would expect that.

On the test drive it performed almost as well as the Crosstrek on the off-road section and that’s high praise indeed. You could also tow a lightweight trailer or seadoo.