Suzuki Across: See me after class
The perplexing world of a RAV4 that isn't a Toyota
Truth be told, I wasn’t going to write about this car. I didn’t know they began selling them in Greece, hell I didn’t even know they had gone on sale in general. The Across was one of these things that you see once and think about for 10 seconds before going back to your blissful ignorance. But as luck would have it I found myself walking outside a Suzuki dealership, in which by some coincidence was sitting a shiny blue Across. So of course I had to take a look.
To those that don’t know what the Suzuki Across is, and honestly who can blame you, quite simply put it’s what happened when Suzuki took the most Ted DiBiase, big money version of the Toyota RAV4 and Patafixed their badges on it. That’s it. The Across and the RAV4 Plug-In Hybrid have the same interior, the same door locks and even the same chime for when you leave the lights on. It’s one of two new Suzuki models, the other being the Swace (which needs its own article too), although they’re not really new, since they’ve been sold as Toyotas for some years now. So we should all just condemn Suzuki for being lazy, hate the cars and call it a day. Only it’s not that simple. In today’s car market that has all the stability of a British teen’s first trip to Zakynthos, Suzuki needed a large-ish hybrid SUV, and they needed it quickly. People are consuming SUVs by the millions and Suzuki was missing out on a piece of the “I have less imagination than the creators of Rules Of Engagement” crowd’s pie, otherwise known as SUV buyers. Yes there is the S-Cross but that is more of a hatchback pretending to be an SUV, like a 5 year old girl putting on her mother’s lipstick. As such, and since Suzuki and Toyota already have a little ongoing romance, an agreement was reached in which the RAV4 and the Corolla Estate would be sold as the Suzuki Across and Swace respectively. And silly names aside this, theoretically, makes sense. Toyota can sell even more cars and Suzuki gets a foothold in two segments that otherwise would be off limits both financially and chronologically. But all of that is theoretical…
Hardly a surprise...
You see, as I entered the dealership and went straight to the Across, skipping the grey Swift and the green Ignis that sat beside it, I could already see a salesman looking at me with about the same level of confusion as my ex girlfriend had when I told her “I love you” for the first time. Soon though and as I was just about finished looking at this can-I-copy-your-homework RAV4, the salesman put on a smile even Nancy Reagan would be jealous of and asked if he could help me, although in retrospect he did more to confuse me. My first question was about the price. Logic would dictate that since the equivalent RAV4 is priced at around 53k euros, then the Across, which has just been launched and has about the same appeal as a two bedroom apartment in downtown Lubbock, Texas, would be a bit cheaper, to compensate for the lack of badge recognition in that specific price point, because don’t get me wrong Suzuki is a respectable brand, but their experience in this segment is very limited to say the least, unless you count the V6 variants of the Grand Vitara as luxury vehicles, so in that case you’re the same person that thinks that you can get a classy dinner at McDonalds if you order a BBQ Bacon Stack. So take a guess of what the price was. 45k? 47? Or maybe 50k? Wrong. It’s exactly the same price as the RAV4. I get that a lower price could potentially hurt RAV4 sales in the long run, but that is looking way into the future; a future that the Across probably isn’t a part of anyway.
After the initial shock of the price tag I also asked the salesman if I could take one on a test drive, seeing as how every other model in Suzuki’s line-up was parked outside, including the Swace. At that point the look of confusion turned into a look of shock; the kind of shock when you leave for vacation and ten minutes in you realize you’ve forgotten your phone charger back home. The only reaction I managed to get from him was a mere ”No, there are none available”, after which we thanked each other like mothers in law at the wedding table and went on our business. So as far as Suzuki, in Greece at least, is concerned, the Across is a RAV4 that’s more difficult to get a hold of and is no cheaper. And before you say “Well the main dealer probably would have one”, that was the main dealer! If they didn’t have one then no one would.
Maybe deja vu?
As far as the actual car was concerned though, it was great. The quality was excellent, the switchgear felt tight and even the design was interesting if not a little bland, like the Tinder profile of an Erasmus student. Sadly I couldn’t take any pictures since I was inside the dealership and they were not too keen about it. But as good as the interior was and as beautiful as the car looks, no one cares, because it’s not Suzuki’s product. It’s like cheating on a test and scoring well. Yes you’re going to enjoy it but it’s not yours. But at least the good score offsets the feeling of cheating. But what if it doesn’t go as planned? What if your cheating doesn’t work and the teacher gets wind of it and calls you out on it. The Across is exactly like that.
The RAV4 is a great car and as such the Across is one of the better Plug-In Hybrid SUVs you can buy. But what will happen if the car buying public sees that it is nothing more than a RAV4? Why would they buy the Suzuki, a Suzuki that they can’t test drive because apparently none are available, and not the Toyota, which has been out already and is easier to get a hold of. Faking it until you make it is definitely a way of living, right or wrong I’m not the one to decide that. But even that needs effort and calculated steps. Doing something for the sake of doing isn’t going to take you far, and most of the time it causes problems that weren’t there to begin with. In other words, Suzuki needs to get behind the Across, cause they have something in their hands that can be of value, as long as they treat it as such.
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