Subaru’s first electric SUV could be in Australian showrooms next year, the company’s local distributor has accidentally confirmed. If Japanese pricing is any guide, it won’t be cheap.
The 2023 Subaru Solterra electric SUV appears set to reach Australia next year, its maker has let slip – six to 18 months after its overseas launch, and some time after its twin under the skin, the Toyota BZ4X, goes on sale locally.
Subaru’s first electric vehicle (EV) to be sold in mass numbers, the Solterra was developed under a partnership between Subaru and Toyota – and shares its platform, body shell, interior and battery packs with its Toyota twin, the BZ4X.
When the Solterra was revealed late last year, Subaru Australia wouldn’t confirm the car would be sold locally.
At the time, Subaru Australia representatives said Subaru’s Japanese headquarters have set “no timeline for the electric Solterra vehicle for Australia” – and that the company was instead focused on “future electric projects”.
However, a line mistakenly published on Subaru Australia’s website last week – which has since been removed – reveals the new Solterra will “[hit] Australian roads in 2023”, a few months after its Toyota sibling.
A Subaru Australia spokesperson would not comment on the 2023 launch date, instead reiterating the brand’s earlier statement.
However Subaru dealer sources told Drive discussions are underway to bring the Solterra to Australia, with a launch next year appearing likely.
“The all electric Subaru Solterra hits Australian roads in 2023, bringing state-of-the-art safety technology to an environmentally responsible all-electric SUV,” the leaked sentence reads in its entirety.
Set to go on sale in Japan, the US and Europe over the coming weeks and months, the Solterra shares its 71.4kWh battery pack with its Toyota BZ4X counterpart – and its under-skin twin, the Lexus RZ450e – offering up to 567km of claimed range, according to ultra-lenient WLTC laboratory testing.
Most markets will offer one all-wheel-drive powertrain, combining two 80kW electric motors for overall outputs of 160kW and 336Nm, and a 6.9-second claimed 0-100km/h time. 150kW DC fast charging should deliver an 80 per cent charge in half an hour.
In other regions, a front-wheel-drive Solterra will be available – the company’s first two-wheel-drive SUV in recent memory – with a single 150kW motor, extending its laboratory driving range claim to the aforementioned 567km (up from 542km or 487km with AWD).
Subaru is pitching the Solterra as a more off-road-capable offering than its closest rivals, touting 210mm of ground clearance, an X-Mode off-road drive mode, and a new ‘Grip Control’ function designed for climbing or descending steep terrain.
Prices in Japan start from 5,940,000 yen ($AU63,800) for an entry-level front-wheel-drive model, rising to 6,820,000 yen ($AU73,000) for a fully-loaded, all-wheel-drive variant with 20-inch wheels, leather seats, 12.3-inch infotainment screen and a Harman Kardon sound system.
For reference, a flagship Subaru Forester mid-size SUV costs 3,680,770 yen ($AU39,400) in Japan, or approximately 40 per cent less than the base Solterra.
The same Forester variant is priced from $47,190 plus on-road costs in Australia – suggesting a base Solterra may struggle to dip below the $70,000 mark, with flagship cars passing $80,000, if Japanese pricing is to believed.
Drive expects a full announcement regarding an Australian launch for the 2023 Subaru Solterra to occur within the coming months, ahead of first arrivals in local showrooms expected sometime next year.
Meanwhile, its Toyota BZ4X twin is due in local showrooms as soon as late 2022 – though this estimated arrival date is now nine months old, and may have changed – while the Lexus RZ450e is even further away, with the car still to be officially locked in by Lexus Australia.
Alex Misoyannis has been writing about cars since 2017, when he started his own website, Redline. He contributed for Drive in 2018, before joining CarAdvice in 2019, becoming a regular contributing journalist within the news team in 2020. Cars have played a central role throughout Alex’s life, from flicking through car magazines as a young age, to growing up around performance vehicles in a car-loving family.