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Rebadged Toyota PHEV plunges Suzuki into several new segments, and convincingly so, despite its somewhat ambitious price
Felix Page Autocar writer
29 October 2020

What is it?

With the exception of the Jimny, whose presence in the UK range became as embarrassing for emissions-conscious executives as it was endearing to the man or woman on the street, Suzuki’s passenger car line-up is now exclusively electrified

Quite some achievement, and it all happened in the blink of an eye, with mild-hybrid powertrains rolled out to the Ignis, Swift, Vitara and S-Cross in the space of just a few months. The most ‘electrified’ of all the Japanese marque’s models, however - if you’ll permit such a clumsy superlative - is this: the Across, and it may not have escaped your notice that it’s not really a Suzuki at all. The first badge-engineered car to be born from a new agreement between Suzuki and Toyota, the Across is all but identical to the RAV4 on which it is based, save for the addition of a less aggressive front end, bespoke wheel designs and a smattering of Suzuki badges.

More interesting, though, is that the Across takes its power from a new four-wheel-drive plug-in hybrid powertrain that has yet to be rolled out to European RAV4 models and that makes its debut Autocar appearance here. Comprising a 173bhp 2.5-litre petrol four-cylinder mated to a pair of electric motors - one with 180bhp on the front axle and another with 54bhp at the rear - the system endows the Across with 302bhp, making it Suzuki’s most powerful production car by nearly 200bhp and giving a 0-62mph sprint time of just 6.0sec.

The economy statistics are equally eyebrow-raising: the Across can manage 46 miles of electric-only travel from a charge, achieves a combined 282mpg, emits just 22g/km of CO2 and - crucially - attracts a benefit-in-kind rating of just 6%, undercutting the Ford Kuga PHEV, Citroën C5 Aircross Hybrid and Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV. One final headline figure, then: £45,999. That’s what you’ll pay for this one-trim-only SUV, which slots it straight in at the higher end of the segment, making it a far cry from the brand’s other, more value-oriented models.

Elsewhere, things are somewhat more familiar. The cabin is lifted directly from the RAV4, meaning there’s a 9.0in infotainment touchscreen with hybrid-specific displays, a nice chunky Tonka-toy-style gear selector and just the right amount of buttons, knobs and switches.

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What's it like?

Two years since it first hit UK roads, this quirkily styled bodyshell still stands out in a crowded car park, and Suzuki’s subtle tweaks haven’t diminished its visual clout. A slatted grille reminiscent of the cutesy Ignis and Jimny might have helped it blend in on a Suzuki forecourt, but critics of the RAV4’s heavily creased visage will no doubt be swayed by the Across’s slightly softer and more rounded approach.

A bit more differentiation inside wouldn’t have gone amiss, though. You’ll find the same dark, featureless frontage in versions of the RAV4 costing more than £10,000 less (albeit with a bit less leather), and when the Across is priced some way above the rather more design-led Peugeot 3008 and Volvo XC40 PHEVs, you’d expect the odd bespoke flourish here and there, or maybe a bit more chrome at least. Close your eyes, however, and it’s a fine place to spend time. The leather seats are supportive and comfortable over long distances, the physical controls are intuitively placed and satisfying to prod and poke, and all-round visibility is good despite those chunky C-pillars. 

Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are standard fitments, as you might expect of a car in this price bracket, but it’s difficult to excuse the omission of something as mundane as sat-nav, especially when Toyota’s own system could have been carried over wholesale, potentially even with added functions like a charge station locator for this new plug-in model.

Not that the Across is likely to ever be charged as a matter of urgency, of course. Battery charge mode - one of four powertrain combinations available - shuts down the electric motors and uses energy recuperated under braking and deceleration to top up the 18.1kWh battery, and does so quickly enough that you could probably get away without installing a charger at home. Unless, of course, you’d rather conduct the daily commute in EV mode and leave the combustion motor for the weekends, in which case you can expect a full charge in 2.5 hours from a three-pin plug. 

That might be the ideal driving balance, too, given the competence of the electric element of this powertrain. Take-up is smoother than its headline-grabbing acceleration figures would suggest, the silence doesn’t make way for excessive amounts of wind noise and tyre roar, even towards its 84mph limit, and the official range figure is pleasingly realistic. It’s a shame it’s not even greater, really, because the combustion element is let down, as is so often the case with Toyota’s otherwise slick systems, by its CVT gearbox. Driving around in hybrid mode, you might not even notice the petrol motor taking over from its zero-emission team-mate, such is the seamless nature of the transition, but you’ll soon realise when the droning of that single-ratio transmission discourages you from approaching the upper reaches of the rev range. 

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Not that the Across is actively unpleasant to drive in any sense. Gearbox gripe aside, the overall package is one of well-rounded dynamics and pleasing ride quality. Cornering behaviour won’t trouble the best in class, with the low-mounted battery pack failing to quite compensate for the unavoidable fact that the Across tips the scales at nearly two tonnes, but urban ground is covered smoothly enough to gloss over that substantial heft, excusing the odd thunk and jolt. An honourable mention should go, too, to the decent-sized boot (complete with low load lip), roomy rear seats and plethora of storage cubbies. This is a near-faultlessly practical proposition. It’s just a shame your fleet manager might take some persuading.

Should I buy one?

If you can reconcile yourself with the idea of a near-£50,000, 300bhp-plus Suzuki, there’s little to be disappointed about here. Although faintly uninspiring inside, the Across is (just) plush and distinctive enough to justify price parity with cars like the Land Rover Discovery Sport P300e, straight-line performance is at a level way beyond what you might expect of something in this segment, and its 46-mile electric-only range gives it a considerable edge over the majority of rival plug-in hybrid SUVs.

Suzuki has already said that availability will be “extremely limited” during the model’s first year on sale, so you’ll need to act fast. However, our experience of the Across suggests that if you end up missing the boat, the RAV4 Plug-in will be equally appealing, not to mention likely cheaper in lower-rung trims.

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gavsmit 29 October 2020

Prices have gone way past ridiculous now

Regardless of this particular model, just look at the prices of other models in the 'budget/bargain' Suzuki range.

The Vitara entry model cost £13,995 when launched just 5 years ago. The entry model now costs £21,999 - an increase of £8,000 in just 5 years!

But that's from a manufacturer known as a being a budget / bargain make - other manufacturers' prices are even more bonkers. 

They can all get stuffed.

 

The Apprentice 29 October 2020

gavsmit wrote:

gavsmit wrote:

Regardless of this particular model, just look at the prices of other models in the 'budget/bargain' Suzuki range.

The Vitara entry model cost £13,995 when launched just 5 years ago. The entry model now costs £21,999 - an increase of £8,000 in just 5 years!

But that's from a manufacturer known as a being a budget / bargain make - other manufacturers' prices are even more bonkers. 

They can all get stuffed.

I very much agree with you on that one!!!!!!!!

What tells, is you can find something that had a £25K factory fresh price, but after  driving around the dealers car park a couple of times and had a few people sit in it, goes on sale at £17500, just shows how much list prices are taking the piss.

 

Sporky McGuffin 30 October 2020

gavsmit wrote:

gavsmit wrote:

The Vitara entry model cost £13,995 when launched just 5 years ago. The entry model now costs £21,999 - an increase of £8,000 in just 5 years!

It's about £6k if you take inflation into account. Are they actually the same spec though? It's not uncommon for the poverty-spec trim to be dropped fairly soon after launch because no-one wants a plastic steering wheel. The manufacturer gets its "from £naff-all" headline anyway.

xxxx 30 October 2020

6k increase after allowing for inflation

Sporky McGuffin wrote:

gavsmit wrote:

The Vitara entry model cost £13,995 when launched just 5 years ago. The entry model now costs £21,999 - an increase of £8,000 in just 5 years!

It's about £6k if you take inflation into account. Are they actually the same spec though? It's not uncommon for the poverty-spec trim to be dropped fairly soon after launch because no-one wants a plastic steering wheel. The manufacturer gets its "from £naff-all" headline anyway.

Actually if you apply inflation it would be around 16k, not 20k, according to the bank of england.  Suzukis have always been well equiped, even the base model.  

Sporky McGuffin 30 October 2020

xxxx wrote:

xxxx wrote:

Actually if you apply inflation it would be around 16k, not 20k, according to the bank of england.  Suzukis have always been well equiped, even the base model.  

Which makes the difference about £6k, rather than £8k, as I said.

£22k - £14k = £8k

£22k - £16k = £6k

xxxx 29 October 2020

Wot next

Will the Toyota version be around 52k

Bodix 29 October 2020

Who needs electric?

Yet another characterless Asian lump at an eye- watering price.Suzuki say availability will be limited.I suspect buyers will be too.Until batteries are affordable ,  say, a diesel returning over 40 mpg and no worries about limited miles range  ( heater on,radio on,wipers on,lights on,cold weather etc.) the price of these hybrids and full electric ,is an expensive alternative just to pander to 'climate change'.We will be driving our petrol and diesel 's  for a long time yet. A lot less than £46000  would buy an excellent low mileage quality car  and  have thousands over for the next few years until batteries are affordable.Its an alternative ,just sayin.

 

 

Tim Ford 29 October 2020

You'll still pollute more,

You'll still pollute more, you only have to drive 30k in an electric car for it too then pollute less tha a diesel and electric car's don't pollute with carcinogenic black carbon. 

The Apprentice 29 October 2020

Bodix wrote:

Bodix wrote:

Yet another characterless Asian lump at an eye- watering price.Suzuki say availability will be limited.I suspect buyers will be too.Until batteries are affordable ,  say, a diesel returning over 40 mpg and no worries about limited miles range  ( heater on,radio on,wipers on,lights on,cold weather etc.) the price of these hybrids and full electric ,is an expensive alternative just to pander to 'climate change'.We will be driving our petrol and diesel 's  for a long time yet. A lot less than £46000  would buy an excellent low mileage quality car  and  have thousands over for the next few years until batteries are affordable.Its an alternative ,just sayin.

So your not a company car driver so this car is not meant for you.

Challenge: Tell me which cheaper diesel SUV you would buy and I will work out the company car tax for you and compare it to this car, you might be surprised how much more your choice would cost a company car driver in tax.

Bodix 30 October 2020

The Apprentice wrote:

The Apprentice wrote:

Bodix wrote:

Yet another characterless Asian lump at an eye- watering price.Suzuki say availability will be limited.I suspect buyers will be too.Until batteries are affordable ,  say, a diesel returning over 40 mpg and no worries about limited miles range  ( heater on,radio on,wipers on,lights on,cold weather etc.) the price of these hybrids and full electric ,is an expensive alternative just to pander to 'climate change'.We will be driving our petrol and diesel 's  for a long time yet. A lot less than £46000  would buy an excellent low mileage quality car  and  have thousands over for the next few years until batteries are affordable.Its an alternative ,just sayin.

So your not a company car driver so this car is not meant for you.

Challenge: Tell me which cheaper diesel SUV you would buy and I will work out the company car tax for you and compare it to this car, you might be surprised how much more your choice would cost a company car driver in tax.

You are correct.I am not a company car driver and this is not for me.Seriously,if this was not given to you,would you spend £46 grand of your own money  on one?

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