What’s this? A Suzuki that looks suspiciously like a Toyota Rav4.
Nothing suspicious about it, this is a Rav4 with a Suzuki badge.
So what’s this all about? It is quite simple, Toyota, one time world’s biggest car company, has taken fellow Japanese, but smaller car company Suzuki, under its wing and is sharing
its huge nous in hybrid technology along with handing over a couple of its models.
It is not all one way, Toyota gets into the Indian market where Suzuki is king – it has almost half the market with a showroom every 15 miles – and will sell Toyota badged Suzuki models there and on the African continent.
In Europe Suzuki has called its SUV the Across, a plug-in hybrid with an electric only range of up to 46 miles which is about as good as it gets at the moment. The set up is a 2.5 litre petrol engine paired with an electric motor that together produces a whopping 306bhp so if you want quick you can have quick, or you can take your time, watch the fuel gauge needle drop ever so slowly and enjoy free road tax and, for business users, next to nothing in income tax.
My 41 miles on electric only is the best from a plug in hybrid and only five short of the maximum so a good result. On engine power, and using economy mode, Across hit 45mpg on a couple of trips because the electric motor recharges under braking and kicks in when coasting.
There are two other drive modes selected from a switch in front of the auto gear lever, normal and sport should you feel the need for some rocket power. It can be driven on electric up to 84mph but fast motorway runs will gobble up the electric reserve in no time.
You have to take your hat off to Toyota for really getting this hybrid business sorted. Charging from my Podpoint wall charger took just over two hours. Plugging into the mains takes longer but can be sorted overnight and you don’t have to worry about seeking out a charge station on a long journey.
By Suzuki standards Across is a big car with a big price but is great news for those followers mourning the loss of Grand Vitara. It fills the void, and handsomely as well because this is Toyota’s best Rav4 by a country mile.
It also bucks the trend by being just partially digital. The driver’s binnacle is computer generated but not multi layered like many rivals although you can scroll through a mound of information. There is a central touchscreen for navigation, phone, audio and driver information, but the heating controls are good old fashioned switches and a joy to use.
Suzuki offers one model but is packed with just about everything needed apart from a digital speedo display which is becoming an absolute must if you are not to be caught out by the multitude of cameras.
There is a wide range of safety features along with all the things we like, heated seats, powered driver’s seat, auto dipping lights, keyless entry, powered tailgate with ‘kick’ opening when your hands are full of shopping bags.
And there is plenty of room for families with leggy grown up children supported by generous boot space. A minor point may be but for this money the boot walls need to be lined although the plastic trim is easier to keep clean… I suppose.
You would hardly describe Across a sporty SUV, there is a little more body movement than some of the German brethren, but nothing to be concerned about. Throw stonking performance into the mix though and it does present a lively performance challenge.
Why buy Across over a Rav4? A grand cheaper might help and the Suzuki front grille, the only visual difference, looks better, so over to you…
Watch this space for a report on the next Suzuki badged Toyota model.
Across Plug-in Hybrid
2.5litre petrol+electric motor; 306bhp
0-62mph 6secs; 112mph
22g/km. VED £0
BIK tax 6 per cent
Insurance group 43
Boot 490 litres