Having friends in high places has come in handy for Suzuki particularly when the buddy is one of the world’s biggest car companies.
The Japanese company has only a modest chunk of the UK market even though it has a reliability record that is the envy of big name rivals.
The funky Ignis and evergreen Swift have quite a following but the range lacked a big SUV so it looked to partner Toyota who said help yourself to our RAV4. Enter Across.
Across is starting its fourth year and still confuses people who can’t decide what it is, mainly because it does not look like a Suzuki. The body is 99 per cent RAV4, the only difference is a Suzuki grille which makes the front snazzier than the Toyota.
Unlike Rav4 the Across is a single model; an all wheel drive plug-in hybrid which is astonishingly economic, putting some rivals to shame. My best return was 74.3mpg and a look through the computer economy stats showed it was often up around 60mpg so expect to regularly return 50mpg, heaps ahead of the official figure.
The downside is a price tag closing in on 50 grand. A two wheel drive hybrid Rav4 comes in under 40k. That said you get a lot for your bucks which we will come to later.
Suzuki was fortunate to inherit a car that was bang on point from the start but there has been a significant update for 2024 with the output for the on board AC charger doubled to 6kW slashing the charging time from a home charger from five and a half hours to 2h 45mins.
That gives Across an electric only range of 46 miles, one of the best around, so if journeys are short you can stay away from the petrol pumps and may be get close to the claimed 282mpg max.
You can also enjoy some fiery performance thanks to two electric motors, one on each axle, significantly boosting the 182bhp petrol engine. Maximum output is a commendable 302bhp so foot to the floor will have you at sixty in a swift six seconds, quicker than most rivals. Too much of that obviously defeats the object of keeping running costs low.
This is a big family car, a full five seater with plenty of leg, head and shoulder room and a big boot. All the kit for the plug-in hybrid cuts into boot space but there is still plenty of room for the family luggage. Disappointing that there are no boot wall levers to drop the split back seats, but you do get a powered tailgate with a kick opening option when hands are full.
Across has a more than generous spec list so expect the usual niceties like full leather, heated front seats, powered driver’s seat (but no memory function) heated steering wheel, all round LED and auto dipping headlights, and keyless entry.
The one significant omission is on board navigation – it was not part of the Toyota package, but there is a new, larger 10.25in central touchscreen with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay so navigation apps can be paired to the screen. And the USB ports have been upgraded to type C making them compatible with a wider range of mobiles.
The list of safety features is even more impressive and includes my essential cross traffic alert which is a real boon when reversing in a busy car park, especially supermarkets where some drivers treat the lanes as race tracks.
I tend not to dwell on the handling qualities of SUVs, it is not that important. Across has a fairly hard ride, common with all wheel drive cars, so expect to feel a few bumps, and when pushed it rolls a bit in corners, but generally this is a safe, comfortable family car that is perfect for long motorway journeys.
This is the most crowded sector of the car market but, with the help of Toyota, Suzuki is one of the best when it comes to economy, quality, reliability and low running costs. That said it is outgunned by the exceptional new Honda CR-V reviewed here in December. Good job it is more expensive than Across.
Across E-Four E-CVT
2.5 litre PHEV; 302bhp
0-62mph 6secs; 112mph
EV range 46 miles
22g/km. First tax: Zero
Insurance group 39
Boot: 490-1168 litres