From £45,5999
Steering, suspension and comfort

There’s an agreeable honesty and simplicity about the way the Across mooches down the road. Unlike so many taller crossover-type vehicles, it’s not an SUV that’s out to work dynamic miracles or to conceal its true size, heft or brief. Instead, it feels comfortable and at ease in its bulkier, 4x4-shaped skin – much like a Land Rover Discovery Sport does.

With 2.6 turns between locks, its steering rack is even more leisurely than that of its new-found British rival, but no less accurate in its responses or consistent in its pleasant, slick medium weighting. This is a fairly thickset helm, and it doesn’t communicate much contact patch feel; but you turn the Across into a corner, feel the resistance build as you wind on lock, feel the car’s body roll in gathering but controlled fashion, and know instinctively that the chassis will retain enough stability, and will comfortably develop enough mechanical grip, to keep you on your chosen line.

Interesting that Suzuki hasn’t even bothered with its own alloy wheel design (an easy, cheap route to differentiation, if it had wanted one). Two-tone 19in rims are identical to those of the RAV4, save for the logos in the centre.

Of course, this feels like quite a heavy car; the body roll is a tell-tale sign, as are some incidences of vertical heave over more rolling stretches of roads taken at ambitious speed. There are limits, also, to the front end’s ability to keep its mass from pushing forwards once you’ve turned the wheel.

Pleasingly, however, these are set high enough that you really have to be pushing the Across hard to get close to them; and given the car’s overridingly simple, utilitarian sense of character, it seems unlikely that you would feel inclined to regularly find those limits, let alone probe them. The car keeps just about enough suspension travel up its sleeve to convincingly absorb the vast majority of mid-corner impacts, although these bumps aren’t always dealt with in the quietest fashion.

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So the Across won’t win any awards for driver engagement or super-sensitive adjustability. But for the way it responds to your inputs, behaves exactly as you expect it to, and with controls that feel oily slick and intuitively tuned, it’s a likeably balanced car to drive and is very easy indeed to rub along with.

The Across, like the RAV4, is very much intended for occasional – and fairly light – off-road forays only. In PHEV form, the car has the same wading capability as any other RAV4 and almost identical clearance angles and measurements – enough for a muddy or slightly rutted track, but not perhaps for a great deal more.

The Across PHEV’s particular specification both helps and hinders it off road: the car’s electric motor torque does make for good low-speed control and drivability, but its ‘eco’ tyre specification certainly doesn’t allow it to create the last word in mechanical grip on any surface.

That would, of course, make for an easy fix for owners who wanted to add a little extra capability on dirt and grass: just fit a set of ‘M+S’ tyres like those that an equivalent Land Rover gets. But if you do, you should also expect the car’s everyday fuel economy and electric range to suffer a little.

COMFORT AND ISOLATION

While the range of electric adjustability that the driver’s seat affords is generally pretty good, some of our testers found that the chair itself was a touch short on under-thigh support. It seats you in a perched position with a commanding view of the road ahead and decent rearwards visibility, though, and in just the right kind of proximity to the car’s large, easy-to-find primary controls and switchgear.

In pure electric mode, the cabin is suitably hushed on the move, and similar is true when the petrol engine is active and turning over at low revs. At 70mph, the 2.5-litre powerplant is barely audible, although road roar and wind noise are more prominent. In these conditions, our microphone measured cabin noise at 67dB; 1dB louder than the diesel Discovery Sport we road tested last year, and comparable to the hybrid Hyundai Tucson from a few weeks ago.

The Across’s ride is a bit of a mixed bag, but it’s far from unpleasant. At town speeds, it can thump and bump its way fussily over any ruts or cracks that pass under its wheels, although you wouldn’t accuse it of feeling harsh or wooden. Then, at greater speed, you notice a bit more vertical movement, and become more aware of the car’s mass in its occasionally wavering primary ride.

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However, this occasional heaving is tempered by a pliancy that ultimately makes the Across a comfortable car to pilot on faster, undulating A-roads and smoother motorways – albeit one that lacks some of the closely cradled, finely damped sophistication that characterises the very best dynamic operators at its price point.