When is a Suzuki not a Suzuki?

in Motoring Insight

Looking at these two cars that I had recently on test, you can be excused for thinking they have nothing at all in common, but you’d be wrong.

Although these two cars look completely different, if you were to remove the bodies, you would be looking at almost identical components. There is a good reason for this, as, they are almost identical in every way.

The Suzuki is in fact, a Toyota, a Toyota with Suzuki badges, and there are many reasons for this.

Toyota produce probably the finest petrol hybrid system, and so they should, they’ve been doing it long enough, so have perfected the art. Suzuki don’t have a full hybrid system. They were obliged to reduce their emissions, so by using the “off-the-shelf” system from Toyota, they’ve managed to comply with environmental legislation in no time at all.

Suzuki is the best selling manufacturer in many countries where Toyota hardly sells any, so get a Suzuki badged Toyota, and hey-presto, Toyota is able to sell their cars in volumes they could only have dreamed of. A marriage made in heaven, and win-win by both companies.

So underneath the bright bodywork lurks the self-charging hybrid system. It has an economical petrol engine, some batteries, a charging system, and some very clever computers and electronics. On the dashboard there is a big screen to tell you what everything is doing, but beware, don’t concentrate on it too much, and take your eyes off the road. The engine powers the car under normal driving, but as soon as you take your foot off the accelerator or go downhill, the engine cuts out, and the momentum charges the battery. Put your foot back on the accelerator and the engine fires up again. But if you set off from traffic lights, or a roundabout, then you set off on electric power only, saving fuel and reducing emissions.

You can also press the “EV” button, and it will travel on battery power for a distance of a few miles, but not above 20mph (32kph). So if you want to creep in home late at night, nice and quietly, press the magic button, and no-one will be the wiser.

The Toyota hybrid system is so clever, and it makes changing from petrol to battery power effortless; you really cannot tell which mode of power is being used unless you double-check by looking at the screen in front of you.

Both cars were a pleasure to drive, so easy, and very economical, and as clean as you can get without having to plug it into an electric socket.

This system, in my view, is the future… as opposed to *full* electric vehicles. Others will undoubtedly disagree.

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