Two years since it first hit UK roads, this quirkily styled bodyshell still stands out in a crowded car park, and Suzuki’s subtle tweaks haven’t diminished its visual clout. A slatted grille reminiscent of the cutesy Ignis and Jimny might have helped it blend in on a Suzuki forecourt, but critics of the RAV4’s heavily creased visage will no doubt be swayed by the Across’s slightly softer and more rounded approach.
A bit more differentiation inside wouldn’t have gone amiss, though. You’ll find the same dark, featureless frontage in versions of the RAV4 costing more than £10,000 less (albeit with a bit less leather), and when the Across is priced some way above the rather more design-led Peugeot 3008 and Volvo XC40 PHEVs, you’d expect the odd bespoke flourish here and there, or maybe a bit more chrome at least. Close your eyes, however, and it’s a fine place to spend time. The leather seats are supportive and comfortable over long distances, the physical controls are intuitively placed and satisfying to prod and poke, and all-round visibility is good despite those chunky C-pillars.
Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are standard fitments, as you might expect of a car in this price bracket, but it’s difficult to excuse the omission of something as mundane as sat-nav, especially when Toyota’s own system could have been carried over wholesale, potentially even with added functions like a charge station locator for this new plug-in model.
Not that the Across is likely to ever be charged as a matter of urgency, of course. Battery charge mode – one of four powertrain combinations available – shuts down the electric motors and uses energy recuperated under braking and deceleration to top up the 18.1kWh battery, and does so quickly enough that you could probably get away without installing a charger at home. Unless, of course, you’d rather conduct the daily commute in EV mode and leave the combustion motor for the weekends, in which case you can expect a full charge in 2.5 hours from a three-pin plug.
That might be the ideal driving balance, too, given the competence of the electric element of this powertrain. Take-up is smoother than its headline-grabbing acceleration figures would suggest, the silence doesn’t make way for excessive amounts of wind noise and tyre roar, even towards its 84mph limit, and the official range figure is pleasingly realistic. It’s a shame it’s not even greater, really, because the combustion element is let down, as is so often the case with Toyota’s otherwise slick systems, by its CVT gearbox. Driving around in hybrid mode, you might not even notice the petrol motor taking over from its zero-emission team-mate, such is the seamless nature of the transition, but you’ll soon realise when the droning of that single-ratio transmission discourages you from approaching the upper reaches of the rev range.