Subaru performance EVs bow: Electric STI race car concept, Solterra STI prototype

Although Subaru has been a bit late to embrace fully electric motoring, the brand isn’t showing any signs of turning its back on its racing and rally heritage in the shift. 

For evidence of that, look no further than the two EVs it revealed on Friday, at the 2022 Tokyo Auto Salon: a version of the Subaru Solterra electric SUV, in sporty STI guise, and a full-on electric race car. 

The four-motor STI E-RA Challenge Project wears the “RA” distinction given to Subaru’s most performance-focused models. Its four motors make a combined 1,072 hp, with torque vectoring provided by individual motor control and each motor part of a modular gearbox and inverter provided by Yamaha. 

Yamaha 350-kw electric motor

Yamaha 350-kw electric motor

That fits right in with what Yamaha announced last year—that it intends to power some very fast EVs, specifically with high-output motor systems up to “intended for installation and use in hyper-EVs and other high-output applications.”

The E-RA’s lithium-ion battery pack is just 60 kwh—although for context, the battery pack used in Formula E is 54 kwh; this isn’t designed to be a 500-mile road-trip machine. 

The Solterra STI doesn’t claim any boost in performance quite yet compared to Subaru’s upcoming Solterra electric SUV, but it boasts an additional roof spoiler, cherry-red aero cladding, “other special parts on its exterior.” With the additional equipment, “the model inspired Subaru’s superior driving dynamics,” the company says.

Subaru Solterra prototype

Subaru Solterra prototype

The 2023 Subaru Solterrais due to arrive at U.S. dealerships around summer 2022, and in the specification provided thus far it doesn’t look entirely performance-oriented, with 0-60 mph times in the seven-second range, with a combined 215 hp from its dual-motor system. The Solterra was developed together with the Toyota bZ4X, so any money invested in a sportier version of the models could be a potential two-fer.

For now the STI remains just a tease, as there have been no plans announced, for any market, for a Solterra STI production car quite yet. But consider the Solterra STI—with the E-RA as evidence—as a strong first cue that Subaru’s performance pedigree won’t be exclusive to internal combustion.

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