Not that Suzuki isn’t a substantial concern. It employs 45,000 people and builds all manner of things from cars to bikes and boats to engines in 37 factories around the world.
It is the tenth largest car company in the world and makes instantly recognisable and respected models like Vitara and Swift but also has the confidence to create quirky models such as Ignis and the glorious Jimny. If you bought a roadgoing version, you’re quids in by all accounts.
Small fry? Not at all. But against the titans of the motor trade, it is a relatively small brand. That means if it wants to create a whole new vehicle, it is darned expensive – especially if sales are going to be on the comparatively modest side.
So Suzuki thought on its feet and came up with a solution: it has linked with other manufacturers to create its own model.
Hence, the Across tested here is under the skin a Toyota RAV4. Sounds strange that so-called badge engineering goes on but in fact everyone’s a winner. Toyota are happy, Suzuki are happy and the customers are happy.
I must admit it seems strange that I’m writing about a Suzuki which costs £45,000. Many models are half the price and the brand is renowned for offering good value for money.
Motoring journalists – who are largely immune to fashion and gimmicks – often drive Suzukis. My own car is a 17-year-old Swift which I’ve owned since new and it has never let me down.
But I must say £45,000 for this Across does seem like a lot of money. But it does compete in a different market to most Suzukis and if you delve under the skin it starts to make sense.
So, what is the Across? It’s a very well equipped model and incredibly spacious. Often badge-engineered cars tend to be a little anonymous but somehow the Across looks like a Suzuki. The huge grille – all the fashion these days – lends the car an authoritative air.
It is powered by electricity and petrol and has – unusually – a stepless gearbox. If you have tried these systems before and shunned them, I don’t blame you. They used to be rubbish but this one is smooth and unobtrusive. You quickly forget about it.
There have been several upgrades recently which include an on-board AC charger increase to 6kW from 3kW enabling a much faster charging time.
For example, if a 32A Rapid charge facility is used, battery charging time is reduced from 5.3 hours to around 2.45 hours.
Charging Across via a lower rated 16A home or public point is now also reduced by 36 minutes to less than five hours.
To help further improve efficiency and style, front fog lamps, rear cabin light and luggage compartment lights are now all redesigned to LED type. For added convenience, illumination has been added to overhead console switches and mirror control. Additionally, USB ports have now been upgraded from type A to type C to ensure compatibility with a wider range of mobile devices.
The car is swift and smooth. It can run in pure electric form for 46.6 miles and if you use it properly – by keeping the motor charged up – you can claim incredible economy of 282 miles per gallon, plus it has low emissions which has tax benefits.
The Plug-in Hybrid system is equipped with four modes which are: Default EV mode, Auto EV/HV mode, HV mode, and battery charger mode which the driver can select depending on driving conditions and battery status. In EV Mode the vehicle is driven entirely by the power of the electric motor even under full acceleration.
When in Auto EV/HV mode and HV mode, the engine contributes to power delivery when required, such as when the accelerator is pressed strongly. To store electricity for EV mode when the charge is low, the battery charger mode runs the engine to fully re-charge the battery.
And while the 282 miles per gallon is achievable, even if you forget to charge you will manage 42.9mpg in petrol-only mode.
This car is vast. It feels big and there are plenty of storage areas around the cabin. The boot holds up to 1,168 litres of space, yet the car is nimble and well balanced.
It has plenty of safety kit including curtain and knee airbags, a lane centering feature to keep you safe, a device that reads traffic signs in case you miss any and blind spot monitoring. It also has a reversing camera.
I’m less welcoming of the electric button brake – I’d much prefer an old-school handbrake.
But the cabin is otherwise welcoming. Plenty of leather and chrome plus easy to navigate screens. It even has heated front and rear seats and glamorous 19in alloy wheels.
Is it really a Suzuki? It looks, feels, sounds and drives like one and that’s all that really matters.
Suzuki Across 2.5 Phev E-Four
Engine: a front electric motor that delivers vigorous torque at low speeds and combines with a powerful 2.5-litre petrol engine for rapid acceleration at higher speeds. With maximum output of 134kW and 270Nm of torque, the front electric motor draws its energy from an 18.1kWh (50.9 Ah) high-capacity lithium-ion battery mounted beneath the floor.
Performance: Top speed 112mph and 0 to 60mph in 6.0 seconds
Warranty: Three years, 60,000 miles