From £45,599
Our badge-engineered plug-in hybrid looked promising when it first joined the fleet. Did the love last?
25 August 2021

Why we ran it: To find out if this plug-in hybrid SUV can eclipse its higher-profile donor model

Month 6Month 5 - Month 4Month 3 - Month 2Month 1 - Prices and specs

Life with a Suzuki Across: Month 6

Our SUV’s long-term test is up, so did this £45,599 Toyota clone justify its price and rebadging or is it another me-too PHEV? - 4 August 2021

More than 10,000 miles ago, when our time with the Across began, I’ll admit that I didn’t know quite what this long-term test might hold. I’ve reported on SUVs on these pages before; plug-in hybrids, too, as well as several other cars of a comparable price. So this one should have been more of a known quantity for me, but there was something about the conf luence of all those factors – on a Suzuki – that threw me.

Now that the test has finished, and I’ve gradually driven my way through the mystery and quirkiness of the Across, it’s the way that this car deals with the everyday routine of life that I’ll miss most about it. It takes you a while to notice this because at first you’re preoccupied with the novelty of driving a 300-horsepower electrified family car that almost nobody recognises. It’s amusing to watch people trying to work out exactly what it is in their rear-view mirror, or when strolling past along the pavement. Funnier still when they’re trying to do that after a green traffic light, as you’re disappearing into the middle distance on another one of its 6.0sec 0-60mph runs.

At other times, it’s equally preoccupying to experiment with the car’s electric mode, trying to bump up your average fuel economy as if you were running on your last gallon of petrol. I did all of that, of course. But once I realised where this car’s enduring qualities lay, they were pretty much all I could see. They’re qualities that make it a really easy car to simply get on and use, and not to worry whether you’re ‘doing it right’.

The Across’s practicality is probably its greatest tangible asset. It’s not the biggest-looking SUV, but its boot is a very good size and it’s also well furnished. I was several months into the test before I realised that there’s a two-pin, 12V, Continental- type power socket back there, which came in very handy for charging my photography gear en route to shoots. The last long-term test car I ran was a Land Rover Discovery Sport, but for accessible carrying space, I’d say the Suzuki narrowly beats it.

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The Across has the kind of interior that isn’t so inviting or special- feeling, but it works really well. It is a little bit grey and plasticky but feels really solidly built, has sensibly sized controls that you can grab without looking and is well equipped. If my next long-term test car hasn’t got heated seats, a heated steering wheel and a reversing camera, I will feel somewhat bereft.

The cabin has aged well, too. I had a few detail gripes about it (why design a phone tray that won’t retain a phone when you go around a corner?) but always felt at ease within it. It proved a comfortable car and really easy to drive. My other half thought nothing of catching up on sleep on longer journeys, which never bothered me because, through bad weather and good, the Across just never missed a beat.

Particularly impressive is the way the hybrid system maintains a ‘basic hygiene’ level of power that is always enough to keep it feeling nippy and responsive, even when there’s no indicated charge left in the battery, and also lets you manoeuvre and park with the piston engine shut down. Not all PHEVs manage this nearly so assuredly – and not all of them feel as quick as the Across, either. That combination of accessible performance and easy drivability is a great advert for the car.

Refinement is something I feel poorly qualified to judge in a test car because I carry so much equipment all the time, which tends to rattle and creak in the back. So before the Across left, I made a point of test driving the car totally empty and with the seats folded down flat, so I could hear any noise coming from around the wheel houses. I could hear some suspension noise; perhaps just a little bit more than you might expect on an SUV with premium aspirations, although the seats-down-shelf-out factor will have made a big difference, I now realise. Overall, I’d say the Across’s ride was always good enough.

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It was missing a bit of sparkling charm and charisma, or the sort of desirability that typically comes with a £47,000 car, I suppose. In the end, though, that didn’t bother me. Because what price do you put on a car that doesn’t say anything about you? One that makes its owner so hard to make assumptions of? The Suzuki’s clearly not a style icon, but I suspect people will like that about it a lot; more, perhaps, even than the Toyota RAV4 on which it is based.

As for me, I liked that it just worked. Not being the kind of person who’s able to plug in a car overnight, I was and remain a bit of an abuse case for any PHEV test car – but this one still managed nearly 45mpg over 10,000 miles, despite only being recharged a handful of times.

My friends on the road test desk assure me that’s probably a 30% better return than I would have got out of some of its rivals; and, in a world in which so many of us are being levered into plug-in options whether we like it or not, that makes this car an easy one to recommend and a tough act to follow.

Second Opinion

We road testers borrowed Olgun’s Across for a few days for a full road test midway through his time with the car and were really impressed with it. Even now, as plug-in hybrid cars are becoming more normalised, this is one of very few that make such a strength out of feeling so rounded and dynamically versatile. You could just own and use one, and never plug it in if you didn’t have occasion to, and still feel good about it.


Matt Saunders

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Love it:

It’s fun The Across is quite fast, handles pretty well for a mid-sized SUV and even copes all right off road.

It’s frugal On a good day, you get 45 miles of electric range and then 45mpg fairly easily.

It’s practical The hybrid system doesn’t eat into the generous boot or cabin space and the car’s really easy to drive.

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Loathe it:

It beeps It does like a warning beeper; when you’ve left it running while out to fetch something from the boot, say.

Those display fonts Mixed-up fonts all over the interior irritate. Cabins with a premium feel don’t have such inconsistency.

Final mileage: 12,938

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Life with a Suzuki Across: Month 5

Squeak, rattle and eyeroll - 16 June 2021

I’ve finally plumbed the depths of the Across’s Toyota build quality: after four months, I’ve unearthed a rattle. Well, it’s more of a squeak, actually, coming from slightly loose trim on the steering wheel boss. I suspect it has just worked its way loose with wear and age, both of which the car’s ride is beginning to show evidence of: it’s just a bit noisier than it was.

Mileage: 11,681

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Would we rather have this SUV in its original Toyota form? - 2 June 2021

A recent visit to my brother- in-law’s place gave me a chance to compare my Across with the car on which it is based: the Toyota RAV4.

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His RAV4 is a regular hybrid, rather than a plug-in hybrid, so the comparison wasn’t perfect, but it definitely looks better to my eyes. Its colour-contrasting roof and bolder frontal styling just gives it the edge on visual appeal.

Even so, would I feel much different if I had been running a RAV4 PHEV for the past six months than I do about the Across now? I doubt it. This is just such a competent, agreeable car: it works well, drives well and is generally so easy to live with. That’s still what’s driving how good I feel about it.

At least with the RAV4 you might feel less need to explain to people what it is, I suppose; and then how a Suzuki can have 302bhp, cost £46k and sound like a spaceship crossed with a hairdryer when you park it.

In my last update, I had a moan about all the bonging alarms and reminders present in the Across. Well, it turns out they’re not all bad. If you leave a side window open (I’m always hanging out of them to take photos), you get a message to inform you; and then an option to close them automatically with a single press of ‘OK’ on the steering wheel. Now that’s a smart convenience feature.

Mileage: 10177

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Life with a Suzuki Across: Month 4

Like a duck to water - 19 May 2021

The M1 looked like it was on a rolling boil, but the Across cut through
the rain and standing water like
a kingfisher. Indeed, my partner slept peacefully the whole way to Birmingham. The rear wiper got a good workout; it did its thing very smoothly and quietly, and the fact that I noticed that reveals a lot about how well the rest of the car did.

Mileage: 8023

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We’re really starting to fall for the charms of our badge-engineered PHEV SUV - 12 May 2021

A funny thing happened the other day. The weather was lovely, and perhaps that lifted the mood, but whatever the reason, I couldn’t keep my eyes off my Suzuki. The way the light was falling on the car, picking out sculpture in the doors that I’d never noticed before, was suddenly quite arresting.

The Across won’t win awards for its looks, especially when the market is packed full of glitzier, sportier cars that scream: ‘Look at me! I have such drama! Such style! Such limited useful storage space!’ But in its details, the Suzuki has something. The headlights are a pleasing shape, for example: rakish but attractive. Stand back and look at it in wide focus and it doesn’t make an impression, but zero in on particular features and there’s a lot to like.

More than that, though, I’m so impressed with the Across’s sheer versatility – its practicality, comfort, refinement and easy drivability – that any yearning to be seen in more ‘desirable’ cars has faded. Am I becoming deeper? Is it just my age? I think it’s the car. Well, it is a bit.

I’ve recently been through a house move but I’m still unable to charge the Across overnight as I’d like to. But when I do manage to get a charge into its drive battery, the power delivery really sharpens up. If I’m a little zealous with the accelerator, it’ll break traction and squeal its rear wheels away from standing, which is equally fun and ridiculous. This doesn’t look like a remotely fast car, and nobody expects it to be, but it really is quite rapid for a chunky, practical, economical box-on-wheels. The whine of the e-CVT transmission kills much of the driver appeal, though. When it’s working hard, the powertrain sounds a bit like a whisk with one too many speed settings.

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The car is continuing to prove gratifyingly economical, even if my overall economy has taken a hit in the hands of the road test desk (thanks, guys). I’m still averaging 45mpg, though, even allowing for such limited charging. The smallish fuel tank (55 litres) gives the impression that the car is disproportionately bad for the environment, because I always seem to be filling it up, but we can attribute that to the way I use the car. Few Across owners will do such a high work mileage as I do, and most will have home charging capability.

You know how children always think their own mother is the most beautiful woman in the world, as well as the greatest cook? That’s how I’m beginning to feel about this car. It’s just doing so much for me, and doing it all so nicely, that I’m becoming really quite fond of it.

Love it:

The performance Yes, it’s got 302bhp, but it’s more how nippy and responsive the electric motors make the car feel.

Loathe it:

All the beeping There’s something on the back seat and I haven’t done the belt up; the boot is still closing so the car won’t lock... Just shut up, please

Mileage: 7712

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Life with a Suzuki Across: Month 3

Charging could be faster - 14 April 2021

One big difference between the Suzuki Across and its Toyota RAV4 PHEV sibling is in their charging. The Toyota can take up to 6.6kW to top its battery up in 2.5hrs, whereas the Suzuki is rated at 3.3kW. So with the standard three-pin cable, it takes at least six hours to fill up the battery. Or five-and-a-half hours if you pay £250 for the seven-pin cable.

Mileage: 5674

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Our plug-in hybrid SUV is impressing with its electric range... - 7 April 2021

Borrowing the Across for this an Autocar road test was an interesting experience. For the first time (£139,000 Polestar 1 grand tourer aside), here was a plug- in hybrid that actually did what it said on the tin with regards to how far you can drive it on a full charge.

Suzuki claims that the Across can travel as far as 47 miles on nothing but electrons before you will need to plug it back into the mains, so I was impressed when I found that I was able to cover 48 miles before its petrol engine sparked into life.

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That figure wasn’t achieved entirely in the sorts of stop-start, low- speed urban environments where EVs tend to perform best, either. My test route took me from my flat in Acton out along the A40 and M40 to the M25, then around to the M4 and back into London. From Chiswick,I wound down to Twickenham before darting across to Putney and back up to Acton. That’s a fair route, I reckon.

I still find PHEVs a slightly iffy concept, at least from a tax-related legislative perspective, but the Across is slowly bringing me round, being a very impressive example of the breed. If only they were all so competent.

Mileage: 5245

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Life with a Suzuki Across: Month 2

As is the photographer way - 24 March 2021

I lent the Across to the road testers for a few days so that they could assess its performance at Millbrook. I wasn’t entirely surprised to hear that they really quite liked the no-nonsense way it goes about its business: it’s a decent plug-in hybrid, this. That said, they were less impressed with the mess I had left for them inside. Sorry, guys.

Mileage: 5130

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A welcome increase in juice - 10 March 2021

I think the slightly milder temperatures we’ve seen recently have boosted the Suzuki’s electric range. Initially, I was getting about 36 miles from a charge, which isn’t a bad effort at all by PHEV standards. Now, the car’s indicated range has jumped up above 40 miles. Yet another sign that winter is coming to a close, I guess.

Mileage: 4108

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Life with a Suzuki Across: Month 1

Welcoming the Across to the fleet - 24 February 2021

We should get this out of the way early, I suppose: despite the Suzuki badge on its nose and the Suzuki lettering across its tailgate, this latest addition to the Autocar long-term fleet isn’t actually a Suzuki at all.

It’s called the Across (seems like a strange name for a car, but there have been worse), and although it may have a new face and a different set of alloys, in reality, it’s nothing more than a rebadged Toyota RAV4 PHEV.

So what’s the logic here, then? Why does this car exist, and why would someone buy one of these instead of an own-brand RAV4? Well, we will be looking to find an answer, or answers, to that last question over the coming months. But we can at least have a go at the other two for the time being.

The Across is the first car to emerge out of an alliance that was struck between Toyota and Suzuki back in 2019. The two Japanese manufacturers each acquired a financial stake in the other’s business, with the goal being to work together to prepare for an electrified and increasingly autonomous future – all while remaining competitors.

So Suzuki gets access to Toyota’s hybrid technology on a global level, along with the RAV4-based Across and the Corolla Touring Sports-based Swace (another strange name) to bolster its European line-up’s environmental credentials against increasingly strict emissions regulations. Toyota, meanwhile, will build Suzuki’s compact vehicle engines in Poland for use in its European vehicles. And the pair will collaborate to develop hybrid cars for the Indian market, where Suzuki will also let Toyota sell rebadged versions of a couple of its compact models.

It’s quite a complex deal, but it does at least explain the Across’s origins. And for what it’s worth, I’m actually rather looking forward to getting to know this badge-engineered SUV over the coming months.

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A good deal of this anticipation is down to the Across’s plug-in hybrid powertrain, which is, of course, exactly the same as that found in the new RAV4 PHEV. Curiously, the Toyota was released after the Suzuki, so the powertrain actually made its UK debut in the Across.

Up at the front, a 2.5-litre, four-cylinder petrol engine and an electric motor combine to drive the front wheels through an e-CVT, while further back, a smaller electric motor drives the rear axle. This mix of powerplants endows the Across with a system output of 302bhp – which is quite a bit more than the 178bhp made by the diesel Land Rover Discovery Sport I ran previously.

The baby Disco was certainly quiet enough at a cruise, but it wasn’t swift. In fact, its straight-line performance could be a bit tractor-like at times. The Toyo… I mean Suzuki, on the other hand, can hit 62mph from a standstill in 6.0sec, so it’s hot-hatch quick. This additional performance has been particularly handy in town driving, where the electric and petrol power sources combine to deliver not only greater thrust than was available in the Land Rover but also more immediate throttle response.

There’s an 18.1kWh battery beneath the floor, which is quite big by PHEV standards. It allows for an electric-only range of 46 miles on the WLTP test cycle (so it slots into the 6% BIK tax bracket), but I’m getting closer to 36 miles out in the real world. That’s not bad at all.

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The charging time is 2.5 hours from a wallbox; I don’t have one of those at home, but a battery charge mode allows me to top up while I’m out driving. In fact, even when the battery has been flattened, the hybrid powertrain has still managed to tick over at around 45mpg. So far, it has proved to be impressively efficient.

I’m also a fan of the Across’s interior. It doesn’t look or feel as plush as that of the considerably more premium Discovery Sport, but it’s extremely functional and feels solidly built. There’s loads of passenger space, and the boot is big enough to swallow all of my photography kit with ease. The controls are all large, chunky and easy to find, which I far prefer to the occasionally fiddly touch-sensitive buttons found in the Land Rover and elsewhere. Usually it would be the British car that you would praise for having switches and dials that you could operate with gloves on, but here it’s the other way around. I really like that.

Standard equipment is generous, although you really would expect it to be when you consider that this standalone Suzuki model costs from £45,599. It comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, a powered tailgate, 19in alloy wheels, heated seats, a heated steering wheel, a rear-view camera and more besides.

The only real scope you have for personalisation is the colour. It’s also interesting to note that the RAV4 PHEV starts from £47,395; I guess that’s one reason why you would opt for the Suzuki over the Toyota.

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It’s still early days, but already I’ve been really quite impressed with the Across. The only thing that I’m not massively enamoured of is the slow-to-operate tailgate – and that’s pretty small fry in the grand scheme of things. I think we will get along just fine.

Second Opinion

A 6% BIK rating will appeal to company car drivers, but I struggle with the Across’s price. It’s more than £7000 pricier than the poshest RAV4, and I’m not sure many private buyers will see the value in opting for the plug-in hybrid over the regular hybrid. It goes to show how the tax rules affect the appeal of these PHEVs

Simon Davis

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Suzuki Across 2.5 PHEV E-Four E-CVT specification

Prices: List price new £45,599 List price now £45,599 Price as tested £45,849

Options:Sensual Red mica paint £0, seven-pin Type 2 charging cable £250

Fuel consumption and range: Claimed economy 282.4mpg Fuel tank 55 litres Battery 18.1kWh Electric range 46 miles (claimed) 41 miles (test average) Test average 43.9mpg Test best 64.5mpg Test worst 38.1mpg Real-world range 572 miles

Tech highlights: 0-62mph 6.0sec Top speed 112mph Engine 4 cyls in line, 2487cc, petrol, plus two electric motors Max power 302bhp at 6000rpm Transmission CVT automatic Boot capacity 490-1168 litres Wheels 7.5Jx19in Tyres 235/55 R19 101V, Yokohama Avid GT BluEarth Kerb weight 1865kg

Service and running costs: Contract hire rate £625 CO2 22g/km Service costs none Other costs none Fuel costs £1358.54 Running costs inc fuel £1358.54 Cost per mile 13.5 pence Faults none

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Join the debate

Comments
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seljon 25 August 2021
What is the point of a long term test of a plug-in hybrid and never plugging it in? Sure loads of company tax dodgers do it but this test tells me nothing about the performance of a car that is designed to be run partly/largely in electric mode. A complete waste of 7 months test.
NavalReserve 25 August 2021

The graph shows it as losing £20k in the first year. What a strange way to save money via a hybrid, compared with a petrol only QashQai etc.

Bimfan 25 August 2021

It's a lot of money for a non-premium premium SUV, even with 45mpg, and the styling is fussy and incoherent inside and out. Other than those two absolute stoppers, I am sure it's great.