In 2016 I bought my first electric car and since then I have driven over 70,000 km purely electric so as an early adopter of EV's, when Suzuki invited me to drive for a few days their new Plug-in Hybrid model, the Across, I was curious to see how does electricity blend in an SUV package with a petrol engine.
Currently I drive about 50 kilometres a day, to and from work. And when I pushed the button and bought my first electric vehicle, I was quite nervous as the 100 km range of my EV was not enough to keep me safe from getting range anxiety specially in the winter.
Adding a combustion engine is a happy addition to the peace of the electric drive and eliminates range anxiety which is still a barrier for many buyers in the purchase of an electric vehicle.
After a few days of driving the Across model, I can say that Suzuki has managed with this model to offer a successful combination of power, comfort and efficiency in use.
The Suzuki Across uses in its hybrid architecture a 18.1 kWh battery that powers two electric motors, one 134kW in the front and a 40kW at the rear with 182 and 54 hp, providing an innovative all-wheel drive traction even in full electric mode. The combustion engine is a 2.5 litre, 4-cylinder petrol powered power-plant, with 185 hp, offering a total power output from the engine and both electric motors of 306 hp backed by healthy amounts of torque. The three engines make the Across the fastest model in the Suzuki lineup, taking just 6.0 seconds from zero to 100km/h.
This acceleration figure is quite impressive in itself but the way it happens is addictive. The torque provided by the two electric motors amplifies the sensation of acceleration, especially when leaving the place, masking the mass of over 2 tons of this heavy SUV.
Next to the CVT automatic gearbox stick we find the buttons that change the way the car uses its hybrid system. There are four modes to choose from, the default EV mode, when the vehicle is driven entirely by the power of the electric motor even under full acceleration. If the Auto EV and the HV modes are selected, the combustion engine kicks under strong acceleration. There is also has a Trail mode which operates a LSD limited slip differential to help you when things get rough in offroad.
I mostly used the EV mode as I found it to be the most pleasant and easily powerful enough. The claimed 75 km electric range is realistic and I could achieve this figure at a less than ideal 5 degree outside temperature. When it gets to sub zero degrees, the full range showed 70 km which is totally acceptable.
Besides the ease of driving, EV's are known for their frugal cost of running, and a consumption of 24kWh/100km makes the Across competitive to be used as an urban car, with an equivalent consumption of a small city vehicle. The car is so docile, comfortable and easy to drive in the city that my boy, on the way to school, told me that driving in this car is like floating on a cloud.
The inside story
Inside, ergonomics was the watchword and the designers thought of the whole concept of the car on the idea of practicality for a family. The materials used inside are solid and seem to last for years of use.
Storage space is good and the boot space measured up with 490 litres plus the rear seat head and legroom is fine for three adults.
The quality of the materials used inside is good, without squeaks and rattles, which would be easy to notice in such a quiet car. On the center console, the chunky rubbery dials for the climate control dominate the central console, a tribute to the brand's specific offroad heritage. Solid buttons to adjust the heating and ventilation systems are a welcomed feature in the era of touchscreen operated controls. There are also heated front and rear seats, heated door mirrors, and a heated steering wheel which I fully appreciated during my winter motoring.
The Across is only sold in one specification in Romania, called Across Plug-In Hybrid Luxus 2.5 E-CVT E-Four with a price including VAT of 49990 euro.The car comes fully loaded with a comprehensive package of driving assistance, parking, connectivity and class-leading standard safety equipment including traffic-sign recognition, lane-keeping assistance with steering input, adaptive cruise control and eight airbags. Apple Car-play and Android Auto are also fitted as standard.
Despite the hefty price tag, the Suzuki Across is actually a good value plug-in hybrid SUV, boosting an impressive all-electric driving range, strong performance with 4WD traction and complete equipment, making it a very good all-rounder family car, backed by an industry leading 3+7 years or 200.000 km extended manufacturer guarantee.
The feeling of driving electric is just addictive. It changes the way you drive, the way you perceive speed, acceleration and makes you aware of "unnecessary consumers" of all that precious kilowatts.
Summing up, it makes you a more positive and efficient driver.
article by Adrian Ion