Suzuki Across plug-in hybrid review
|Car type||Electric range||Fuel economy||CO2 emissions|
|Plug-in hybrid||46 miles||282mpg||22g/km|
First things first: yes, the Suzuki Across plug-in hybrid SUV is a Toyota RAV4 plug-in hybrid wearing a different badge and with some slightly modified styling. Along with the Corolla Touring Sports-derived Suzuki Swace estate, it's the fruit of a collaboration between the two Japanese companies that gives Suzuki access to Toyota hybrid models and Toyota access to small and affordable Suzuki cars in some overseas markets.
The Across actually beat its RAV4 twin to the UK market by a couple of weeks, and is offered in one trim level for the pretty chunky list price of £45,599. But while that's undeniably a lot to pay for a Suzuki, which has traditionally been a value-focused brand, private buyers are not the Across' target market. Like all plug-in hybrids, it's primarily aimed at company-car user-choosers, seeking out the rock-bottom Benefit-in-Kind (BiK) rates these low-CO2 models attract.
On paper, the raw numbers are impressive: an 18kWh battery holds enough power for a significant 46 miles of zero-emissions running – enough to allow most people to complete a commute and local errands without using a drop of petrol, as long as they have the ability to charge up at home overnight.
That electric running potential feeds into official fuel-economy and CO2 emissions figures of 282mpg and 22g/km respectively. The Across' electric range also puts it in the 6% BiK band – many rival plug-in hybrid SUVs can only manage between 30 and 39 miles of zero-emissions running, which sees them in the 10% band. So the running costs definitely stack up – as long as your company is happy to fork out the significant cost of the Across.
In the past, ultra-low running costs were frequently associated with lethargic performance, but that's no longer the case in the era of the plug-in hybrid: the Across' total power output of 302bhp sees it sprint from 0-60mph in a hot-hatch-like six seconds. And if you're not trying to hit that number, the car does its utmost to stay in electric mode for as long as possible, unless you really floor the throttle.
Inside, the logical design and quality soft-touch plastics of the RAV4 are present and correct, as is the generous amount of space on offer for the driver, passengers and their luggage. The 490-litre boot capacity is 90 litres down on the figure for the non-plug-in-hybrid RAV4 (which has no Suzuki equivalent), but it's still a useful size. The tailgate is powered, the boot floor is flat and the rear seats drop down to free up 1,198 litres of space in total, so the Across is overall a very practical car.
Toyota has recently dropped its longstanding resistance to adding Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone connectivity to its in-car infotainment systems, and this has carried over the Across, which features a nice nine-inch dashboard screen for controlling most major features.
As mentioned above, there's no choice of trim levels for the Suzuki, with every car getting a generous standard spec that encompasses heated leather seats, a leather steering wheel, LED headlights and adaptive cruise control, plus a plethora of active and passive safety technology to keep you on the straight and narrow. Both the RAV4 plug-in and the Across have Toyota's 'E-Four' all-wheel-drive system as standard, so remain grippy and confidence-inspiring on damp roads.
Inside, the environment remains quiet whether you're in petrol or electric driving mode. Comfort has taken a hit, though, as the battery pack adds a not-insignificant 300kg to the overall weight of the car, with implications for ride quality.
Right now, the Across is a pretty appealing package overall, but Toyota has yet to release pricing for its RAV4 equivalent, so that could change the picture slightly. There are, of course, cheaper plug-in hybrid family SUVs available, such as the Ford Kuga, Vauxhall Grandland X, Peugeot 3008 and Citroen C5, although none of them can match the Suzuki's pure-electric range.
Another factor to consider is that the Across' price puts it close to more desirable alternatives from premium brands, such as the Mercedes GLA 250 e and Land Rover Discovery Sport PHEV, so it's likely to remain a niche choice.