SUZUKI has been - and apologies for the appalling pun - swift to keep its cars on the right side of tighter emissions rules.
The way the latest EU rules work, ironically, leave tiny city cars with some of the biggest burdens in terms of carbon dioxide emissions, because the numbers involved in kitting these out with complicated hybrid and electric clobber make less sense than they do on, say, a big off-roader. For a company that’s made tiny hatches and off-roaders its party trick that’s a problem, so it’s teamed up with Toyota to crack the emissions nut.
Not only is the Swift now available in the mild hybrid form but Suzuki’s also asked its bigger Japanese counterpart if it can borrow the Corolla estate, garnish it with some of its own trimmings and sell it to us as a new hybrid model, the Swace. It’s also reinvented the Jimny by chucking out the back seats and calling it a commercial vehicle. Nope, it’s not exactly rocket science, but it keeps the world’s dinkiest off-roader in the showrooms.
But now the company’s not so much dipped its toe into the water when it comes to eco-friendly motoring as chucked itself off the back of a Mersey ferry. The Across, which goes on sale here next month, is another duet with Toyota, but this time it’s a chunky five-door crossover in the same vein as Vauxhall’s Grandland X, Mitsubishi’s Outlander PHEV and Toyota’s RAV4. Particularly so in the case of the latter, because it’s the RAV4 that the Across borrows most of its Greenpeace-pleasing tech from.
I like the fact that it can crack 60mph in six seconds, which is knocking on for hot hatch territory. It looks good, too but if you’re seriously contemplating a five-door family hack that you can plug in at the mains then you’ll be more swayed by how it can do 46 miles on electricity alone.
It’s also been kitted out with every conceivable extra that Suzuki could get its hands on – so you get heated leather seats, dual-zone air con, and a tailgate that opens itself electronically – but that’s where the Across comes a cropper. Sign on the dotted line and you’ll be asked for £45,599, which is £14k more than an entry-level RAV4. It’s pricier than the Grandland X too, which kicks off at just under £33k, and while Mitsubishi’s Outlander PHEV has been around for a while it’s still got plenty to offer, and starts at £35,815.
I’ve a sneaking suspicion that’s why UK supplies of the Across are going to be “very limited” – Suzuki’s words, not mine – but I hope its cunning plan to stay on the right side of ever-tougher rules on carbon dioxide emissions work. Every Across it flogs here is a bit more cash to subsidise the stuff it does brilliantly. The Swift Sport, the Ignis and the Jimny, in other words. Fingers crossed it works.
David Simister is the editor of Classic Car Weekly