2021 Suzuki Across PHEV review

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We drive Suzuki’s all-new model that’s based entirely on Australia’s most popular SUV – the Toyota Rav4.

No, your eyes do not deceive you – the new Suzuki Across is basically a rebadged Toyota RAV4. And yes, the price does read an incredible equivalent of $83,000 in Australia when converting standard pricing in Europe. Yep, all that for a Suzuki.

But this is no ordinary Suzuki, it’s a plug-in hybrid – the first for the brand – and it has actually beaten its Toyota equivalent to the market by a month or so.

Suzuki (which is helping Toyota in the Indian market by way of return) has made a couple of mild cosmetic tweaks to the RAV4 – spot the grille and bumper changes – but otherwise the Across and its Toyota counterpart are identical.

And that means some impressive stats. With an 18.1kWh battery on board, electric only running will stretch to 74km according to official WLTP figures (which also claim average combined fuel consumption of 1L/100km). And with our test returning an impressive 5.1km/kWh, that all-electric range is eminently achievable. And CO2 figures are super-low at 22g/km.

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Performance is good, too; a 0-100km/h time of 6.0 seconds again beats most rivals, while it’ll cling on to electric power as much as possible without resorting to the 2.5-litre petrol engine until the battery is exhausted or you really stamp on the throttle.

The RAV4 is a car we like, so much of that fondness carries over to the Across. Quality inside is good with nice soft-touch plastics where you want them most and everything screwed together well – as you’d expect from a car built by Toyota. The interior design is a big step up from Toyotas of the recent past, too.

There’s space aplenty in the front, back and boot – the latter offering 490-litres of luggage room, which may be 90 litres down on the standard hybrid RAV4 (giving a clear indication where the bigger battery has gone) but still a decent size and shape.

The powered hatch reveals an easy to load flat floor and seats that fold down to grow the boot space to 1198 litres. There are plenty of useful storage spots around the interior, too; in front of the driver, passenger, in the doors and between the seats. And it’s a car that’s easy to get in and out of with wide-opening doors that open and shut nicely, too.

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We also like the big door mirrors – although they produce a bit of wind noise on the motorway – and the nine-inch touchscreen with standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity.

The one-size-fits-all spec includes heated leather seats and steering wheel, LED headlights, adaptive cruise control with lane keep assist and a whole host of active and passive safety features that all go some way to justifying that high price.

As the Across makes use of Toyota’s latest TGNA platform, it actually handles okay for a large plug-in hybrid SUV. The E-Four 4×4 system provides good grip on slippery wintery roads, while the transition from electric to petrol power is seamless and quiet – this is a refined car.

However, the 300kg extra weight of the bigger battery has had a big effect on the usually plush ride of the standard RAV4 – it’s firm, bordering on the harsh.

We could feel the extra weight, even on newly re-laid surfaces on our test route, with a constant fidgeting interrupted by the occasional thud if you go over a bigger bump or pothole. It makes you thankful for the excellent Toyota build quality otherwise we’d be wary of rattles over time.

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It’s a shame, really, because otherwise foibles are few. The digital instrument panel is overloaded with information and could do with a single, clear speedo read-out, but otherwise the Across is a car with plenty of easy-to-use appeal.

Until Toyota names its price for the RAV4 plug-in, the Across looks expensive to buy, if not to run. Suzuki has used its relationship with Toyota to good advantage with the Across though. It’s quick, well built, easy to live with and spacious. But we found the ride a bit too firm for us.

But Toyota’s plug-in hybrid Rav4 is not yet ready for Australia, Toyota tells us. That means that maybe this Suzuki Across will be the closest we’ll get – if indeed Suzuki does bring it here, and can get the pricing right.

Steve Fowler

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We drive Suzuki's all-new model that's based entirely on Australia's most popular SUV - the Toyota Rav4. No, your eyes do not deceive you – the new Suzuki Across is basically a rebadged Toyota RAV4. And yes, the price does read an incredible equivalent of...2021 Suzuki Across PHEV review