Motor Image, the official distributor of Subaru in the Southeast Asian region, took to the Singapore Motor Show to hold the regional debut of the Solterra. The 2023 Subaru Solterra is the Japanese automaker’s first foray into the electric vehicle (EV) market, and if its design looks very familiar to you, that’s because it’s the twin of the Toyota bZ4X. Unfortunately, as the model that was used for the media experience is a Taiwanese-spec unit, we were only allowed to experience the Solterra from the passenger’s seat.
From a design standpoint, the 2023 Subaru Solterra looks unique… at least for a Subie. Rather than your usual slab-sided crossover SUV, the Solterra has sleek lines and good proportions that manage to give it a rugged appearance. Ditto the sheer amount of black plastic cladding, which are a love-it-or-hate-it affair. On the one hand, it’s a contributor to its rugged looks, but its sheer amount also somehow looks comical to what is otherwise a sleek crossover SUV.
At least on the inside, the Solterra looks very premium, though while it’s decently stylish, the design is biased more toward function. There’s a 12.3-inch infotainment system with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as wireless charging and a 7-inch digital instrument cluster. Do note, however, that these features are based on a Taiwanese-spec Solterra, which means that if Subaru decides to offer this in the Philippines, there’s a chance that there’ll be differences.
Being based on the bZ4X, this means that the Solterra rides on the same e-TNGA platform that also underpins the Lexus RZ. However, the supposedly bespoke EV platform isn’t enough to give the Solterra the advantages of a skateboard architecture, such as having a front trunk like its rivals the Hyundai Ioniq 5 and Kia EV6. Instead, that’s where all the electric motor components are also stored as if it was a car with an internal combustion engine.
Nevertheless, the Solterra comes with a dual motor setup–thus making this all-wheel drive (AWD) like a Subaru crossover should. The dual-motor layout has a total output of 215 hp, with its 71.4 kWh lithium-ion battery pack that’s good for 460 km. With these specs, the Solterra can sprint from 0-100 kph in just 7.1 seconds.
From the perspective of a front passenger, the driver from Motor Image asked me if I already have an experience with an EV. Thankfully, I’ve been fortunate enough to live with two already–both of which are BMWs. While the Solterra does accelerate instantaneously as an EV does, it’s not as demonic as I was expecting like the BMW iX3 which has similar power figures. Still, the EV shove is always addicting, especially for those who barely get to drive one.
Being a Subaru, the company once again flexed its Symmetrical AWD tech through a set of undulations that made two of the EV’s wheels lose contact with the ground. This is where the need for a locking differential comes into play, but what the Solterra did was simulate it instead. When one of the wheels starts spinning freely in the air, the system then sends the power to the wheel that has grip or is still in contact with the ground. Everything here happens electronically, which minimizes any mechanical lag.
We also were able to experience the Solterra’s latest version of EyeSight, which is now able to park the vehicle on its own, whether perpendicularly or parallel. It can even get out of a tight parking space if you’re a person who’s completely challenged at parking a vehicle.
Unfortunately, that’s about as much experience as we got with the 2023 Subaru Solterra, but it’s still enough for us to get a solid impression of this EV. With how Subaru markets and showcases this vehicle, the Solterra seems to be an EV that won’t set any acceleration records or blisteringly-quick lap times. Instead, it’s an EV that only Subaru could do. With the brand being known for its legendary AWD, the Solterra is an EV for those who want great on-road driving dynamics but with the light off-roading capability that you expect from a Subaru. It’s basically an EV you could take on your next camping trip.
But does that mean Subaru should offer this in the Philippines? That depends on how much public interest there is for the Solterra. After all, the Philippines is currently undergoing an EV revolution. The Executive Order that seeks to eliminate tariffs for EVs and their parts has already been passed, which means that the Solterra will carry a lower price tag than usual. And with the country’s love for SUVs and crossovers, the Solterra, on paper, is an EV that will meet a Filipino’s needs–provided that they’re indeed willing to be an early adopter.