By Mike Torpey on 2021-11-21 - Driving Force news editor and responsible for organising our daily output. He was staff motoring editor of the Liverpool Echo for 20 years.
Suzuki Across 2.5
SUZUKI may have forged a rock-solid reputation as the small car specialist, so a price tag north of £45,000 may sound like something of a jaw-dropper.
But the new Across SUV is no ordinary Suzuki. It's a premium product like nothing seen from the Japanese brand before and represents a fresh direction for the company.
It is actually the first model to be launched under a collaborative agreement with Toyota and if the car's design looks in any way familiar, that's because it's basically a rebadged RAV4.
There's much to recommend it too. This is Suzuki's first plug-in hybrid vehicle, comes in just a single very high spec trim and boasts some impressive performance and economy figures.
At the core of the car's plug-in hybrid system is a powerful front electric motor that delivers plentiful pulling power at low speeds and pairs with a 2.5-litre petrol engine for some sweet acceleration - 62mph from standstill in 6.0 seconds to be exact.
Another benefit of the system is an electric-only range of 46 miles, CO2 emissions of just 22g/km and - provided you are responsible about topping up the battery - a potential WLTP fuel consumption of 282mpg.
Four separate driving modes can be selected, including one to help re-charge the battery, and in addition to having 4x4 capability there's also a limited slip differential control set-up called Trail Mode to ensure the best possible grip on slippery surfaces.
Add another feature, Pitch Control, to the equation and you have a car that is exceptional to drive, encompassing the comfort, balance, precision and dynamics of the very best vehicles of its type.
That view was formed after the best part of 500 miles of urban, rural and motorway driving, including with five passengers aboard and a full boot.
The £45,599 label is high but competitive with slightly higher or similarly priced SUVs like well-specced variants of the Range Rover Evoque, Mitsubishi Outlander, Vauxhall Grandland X, Citroen C5 Aircross and Ford Kuga PHEV.
Compared with those rivals the Across comes out tops for EV range, CO2 emissions, company car benefit-in-kind banding (six per cent) and BiK monthly liability (£91).
Standard kit includes heated front and rear leather seats, heated steering wheel, dual zone auto air con, 19-inch black gloss alloy wheels, LED headlamps, a nine-inch multimedia touchscreen and a powered tailgate.
And when the driver's hands are full of bags, the tailgate can be opened with a light kick to the bumper so long as the driver is carrying the key.
Meanwhile the cabin feels spacious, upmarket and uncluttered - head and legroom is plentiful, even for a centre rear passenger, and there are plenty of convenient storage spaces.
As for luggage space, the 490-litre boot is equipped with a mains voltage (220V) electrical outlet plus 12V accessory socket and can be expanded by dipping the 60/40 split-fold rear seats.
The latest smart safety features are there too in the shape of a pre-collision system, Lane Tracing Assist to help keep the Across in the centre of its lane, dynamic radar cruise control - including stopping the Suzuki when the preceding vehicle comes to a halt - a blind spot monitor, brake hold and emergency services e-Call.
Suzuki Across 2.5 PHEV 4X4
Mechanical: 306PS, 2,487cc, 4-cyl petrol engine + electric motor driving four wheels via CVT auto gearbox
Max Speed: 112mph
0-62mph: 6.0 seconds
Combined MPG: 42.9
Insurance Group: 43
C02 emissions: 22g/km
Bik rating: 6%
Warranty: 3yrs/62,000 miles
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