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Bodystyle, dimensions and technical details

Curiously, the Across was permitted to beat the RAV4 into European showrooms, offering Toyota’s new- generation 302bhp four-wheel-drive PHEV powertrain several months before its doppelganger went on sale with precisely the same set-up.

That set-up consists of a 182bhp front-mounted 2.5-litre Atkinson- cycle engine and two electric drive motors: one of 180bhp for the front axle and a more compact, 54bhp unit for the rear. What makes the system unusual, in traditional SUV engineering terms at least, is that thanks to the electric element, there is no physical connection between the axles for the transfer of drive – but plenty of plug-in SUVs now deliver four-wheel drive in the same way.

Hexagonal radiator grille that dominates the Across’s front end, and the bodywork around it, is different from the RAV4’s and makes for a slightly less serious, angular look, which some testers preferred

The efforts of the car’s combustion engine and front electric motor are combined via the planetary gears of Toyota’s unique transaxle. The set-up includes a clutch pack that allows the engine to be disengaged and shut off either intermittently in Hybrid mode or for pure electric running in EV mode. Equally, when the motor and engine are operational together, the epicyclic e-CVT transmission modulates the speed of the crankshaft to keep the car running at its most efficient.

The important point is that there is no output shaft to the rear, and so when the car is in soft-roading Trail mode, for example, the four-wheel drive system and the efforts of the rear motor are wholly dependent on the sensors that inform the ESP and traction control.

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The set-up is similar to that found in the existing RAV4 Hybrid (the plugless one), though at 18.1kWh, the liquid-cooled drive battery in the plug-in Across is considerably larger, and the front drive motor more than half as powerful again. The consequences of these changes are twofold.

First, the kerb weight of the passively suspended Across is some 280kg greater than that of the regular RAV4 Hybrid (and yet remains almost 200kg lighter than the Range Rover Evoque P300e we tested a couple of months ago). And second, at 6.0sec, the 0-62mph acceleration of the Across is similar to that of a DSG- equipped Volkswagen Golf GTI. Lab-test emissions for the car, meanwhile, are less than 25g/km, and the electric range is a very impressive 46.6 miles. Whether the credit should go to Suzuki or Toyota, that all amounts to quite the technical achievement.

In terms of the exterior design, there isn’t an awful lot to say. The Across is identical in footprint and silhouette to the Toyota, though the face of the car has been restyled to some degree and appears softer and less pugnacious than that of the RAV4. The car’s 19in wheels are standard fit as part of a simplified, one-tier, kit-rich showroom offering.