Suzuki Across review: Marriage of convenience produces a winning SUV
Smart pricing and a strong specification could mean Suzuki has a hit on its hands as a result of its tie-up with Toyota
If the Suzuki Across looks familiar to you, that’s probably because it is. The plug-in hybrid SUV is a re-badged and re-trimmed Toyota Rav4, a product of the new strategic partnership between Suzuki and Toyota that has also seen Suzuki launch the Swace, an estate model derived from Toyota’s C-segment Corolla.
The Suzuki range is a much stronger proposition for the partnership, the Across gives the Japanese manufacturer a more imposing SUV option than the S-Cross, previously the largest car in the stable, while the introduction of the Swace is Suzuki’s first foray into the C-segment (still an important class in Europe) for a number of years. Speaking of Europe, Suzuki also benefits from Toyota expertise in hybrid technology and the introduction of the Across and Swace models have helped the manufacturer achieve the average emissions levels required by European regulations. In return, Toyota gets access to Suzuki’s expertise and network in the Indian market, where Suzuki is a major player.
How does the Suzuki Across differ from the Toyota Rav 4?
So how different is the Across to the Rav4? The front grille has been redesigned with a wider mouth and new setting for the front fog lights. The badge placement is different and the front headlights have a more aggressive slant to them. Externally, that’s pretty much it. The muscular silhouette and chunky shoulders of the SUV are unchanged and, badge aside, even the alloy wheels are the same.
The interiors of the two cars look identical in layout and fittings, right down to the stitching on the synthetic leather steering wheel, and that works very much in Suzuki’s favour, the robust build quality and material grade feels superior to anything else in the Suzuki stable. The Across is available in a single high-specification trim level, whereas Toyota offers three options to choose from (Design, Dynamic and Dynamic Premium). The centre console is dominated by a high-resolution nine-inch touchscreen display although, unlike the Toyota, the Across does not feature built in sat nav but does feature Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.
The mechanical underpinnings of the Suzuki Across are the same as the Rav 4 PHEV, however, while the Toyota is available as a hybrid and a plug-in hybrid vehicle Suzuki only offers the plug-in hybrid option, powered by the same 2.5-litre engine.
A crucial difference between the two cars beyond the badge, is the price. The entry level Design spec Toyota Rav4 plug-in hybrid retails at £46,495, whereas the Suzuki Across costs £45,599.
Driving the Suzuki Across
The advantage of a plug-in hybrid car over an all-electric or standard hybrid is that, in theory, you get the best of both worlds: all-electric driving for short-range urban journeys and the range of a petrol engine for longer journeys. In the case of the Across, the all-electric range is 47 miles - considerably less than contemporary EV ranges, but comparable to other modern plug-in hybrid competitors. Our test took in a variety of different driving environments, from the city centre to the motorway and even some easy going off-roading and the Across handled each of the environments impressively.
In EV mode, the throttle response is sprightly away from the lights and, during our test, the 47-mile estimated range looked pretty close to bang on. On the motorway section of our drive the Across came into its own. Very much in its comfort zone while cruising, the Across is also properly rapid for such a big car when you put your foot down. With a 0-62mph figure of six seconds flat and a top speed of 112mph, the Across is capable of using the combination of petrol and electric power to its advantage, with over 300bhp when you combine the output from the petrol and two electric motors.
The only downside is the noise from the CVT gearbox which, like most examples of the breed, is slightly grating and out of kilter with the feeling of acceleration to an ear conditioned to more traditional transmissions. That said, the sound insulation within the cabin is, generally, pretty good.
Cheaper than the Toyota model on which it is based, but with all of the lively performance and low-emissions benefits, the Across is a real asset to the Suzuki line-up. It may also be a model that grabs Suzuki a slice of the company car market as, with CO2 emissions within the sub-50g/km band and an EV range of 47 miles, the SUV will qualify for the seven per cent benefit in kind rate if registered before the end of 2022.
Suzuki Across PHEV
Price: £45,599; Engine: 2.5-litre, four-cylinder, turbo, petrol with two electric motors; Power: 301bhp; Torque: n/a; Transmission: CVT, all-wheel-drive; Top speed: 112mph; 0-62mph: Six seconds; Economy: 282.4mpg; CO2 emissions: 22g/km; EV range: 47 miles