The Suzuki Across, a rapid and spacious plug-in hybrid SUV costing twice as much as the marque’s next-most-expensive model.
Eyebrows might raise at the thought of £45,599 for a Suzuki. But wait, two years earlier, Suzuki and Toyota got a deal together: two new Toyotas, sorry, Suzukis, emerged, the Across being based on the RAV4.
Nothing wrong with that, given Toyota’s high reputation, and ‘badge engineering’ has, from time to time, long been standard industry business.
Grandads, for example, may remember those little 1960s Mini, Austin, Riley, and Wolseley. Or Rolls-Royce and Bentley in the 70s. There are hundreds of them, some of them with Suzuki and Mazda in Japan, amongst many more.
And so, the Suzuki Across is with us, and in fact, actually appeared late last year a little before the Toyota…and is a little less expensive, which is Suzuki’s way of doing business.
But the car itself: what’s it like?
Our test run took in a hundred road miles of motorway and country routes and town driving to a few gentle off-road forest miles.
Not only can the 2.5-litre, 4-cylinder engine’s 183bhp plus battery power (total 302bhp) easily propel this 2-ton car to 62mph in a claimed mere 6.0 seconds. Yet, the overall fuel consumption was indicated at a very acceptable 46.2mpg (WLTP combined 42.9), while the official WLTP emission figure is an attractively green 22g/km. With its 55-litre fuel tank, the range might extend to a useful five hundred miles.
The remarkable acceleration is thanks to the instant torque available from the two electric motors; in this case, the distribution of electric power to the front and rear axles is 180bhp and 54bhp, respectively. If used to excess, this power is handled by such safety features as VSC (vehicle stability control), PCS (pre-collision System) and the E-four electronic 4X4 system.
The car was enjoyable, easy to drive, and quiet, and the ride was comfortable (some reports suggest some harshness here, but I have no complaints).
The Across stopped smoothly and there was only a trace of lean if the car was pushed hard around tight bends.
The automatic transmission is of the continuously variable type (CVT); anyone not accustomed to this might wonder at the different engine-revving noises, but you get used to it.
When you drive along a twisty, narrow, muddy lane during or after another of this country’s monsoon downpours, switch to ‘Trail’ mode and the limited-slip differential deploys — and, in case you haven’t noticed the difference, the instrumentation goes slightly and rather oddly fuzzy.
As expected from the Japanese factory, the interior appeared to be well-built, with stylish touches and a plethora of equipment for safety and convenience. An almost endless list no doubt partly accounts for the high price tag. A 9-inch touchscreen features for infotainment and also adds apple carplay or android auto.
In winter, the driver will appreciate the heated leather seats and steering wheel and rear passengers have heated seats too.
It’s spacious for four adults, and the boot is of course, very easily extendable thanks to very easy 60/40 folding rear seats. Loading is aided by both the interior remote control and outside rear kick function. Under the boot floor is a full-size spare wheel.
Why buy an Across, rather than the slightly more expensive Toyota RAV4 but which also offers a longer and greater mileage warranty?
As a company car? The Suzuki Across hybrid is rated at 7% BIK, compared to the Toyota’s 7%.
Exclusivity? Maybe. There’ll be plenty more Toyotas than Suzukis.
Can you get a deal? Always a ‘must-try when buying a new car.
It will be interesting to see if the Suzuki Across hybrid emulates what’s been happening to its little brother Jimny, which now commands prices even above the official on-the-road price due to its perky attractiveness and minimal production number.
The Suzuki Across hybrid is not likely to feature in the same way but is certainly worthy of consideration against its rivals (not just Toyota) in its class and price range, some of which it beats in performance and efficiency.
Tom Scanlan has written for a wide variety of magazines and newspapers, particularly the Reading Evening Post for ten years, having got into motoring journalism in 1973 via the somewhat unlikely back door of the British Forces Broadcasting Service. BFBS produced a weekly radio motoring show for the services overseas and Tom produced it, as well as interviewing experts and eventually reporting on cars.
He is into classic cars and has owned Porsche, Ferrari, pre-war Alvis and Rileys and currently owns his fifth old Alfa Romeo, a 1984 GTV 2.0.
In his spare time, Tom is a professional cricket coach.
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