The package ticks the boxes you’d expect and delivers everything a compact-crossover buyer could want.
Base price: $32,990.
Powertrain and performance: 1.6-litre petrol four, 86kW/156Nm, continuously variable transmission, front-drive, Combined economy 5.8 litres per 100km.
Vital statistics: 4300mm long, 1575mm high, luggage capacity 440-875 litres, fuel tank 50 litres, 17-inch alloy wheels.
We like: Unpretentious, excellent value, well-equipped, simplicity of switchgear.
We don’t like: Derivative styling, smaller than mainstream rivals, so-so performance.
How it rates: 7/10
WHAT DO I NEED TO KNOW? Suzuki might be synonymous with fashionable four-wheel drive vehicles, but in modern times it’s been a bit out of the mainstream. The Vitara was one of the original compact-crossovers, but it’s retained hard-core off-road ability (and the on-road compromises that go with it) in an age of ‘soft road’ vehicles. The SX4 is closer to the mark, but a bit too small and quirky to really make an impact.
That’s where the new S-Cross comes in. This is Suzuki’s crack at a properly populist crossover, in terms of size, styling – and powertrain, for the S-Cross can also be specified with two-wheel drive. The model on test here is the top-specification Limited, in front-drive configuration.
WHAT’S IT LIKE TO DRIVE? The S-Cross engine is essentially a detuned version of the powerplant used in the Swift Sport. Don’t get too excited about that, though. It’s no ball of fire with just 86kW/156Nm, although it has solved the biggest issue with the old SX4: thirst. The new engine is thrifty indeed, with a Combined economy figure of 5.8 litres per 100km.
There’s no diesel version as yet – the European-market version has a Fiat engine but is only available with manual transmission, so is probably a non-starter here. With the economy you get from the petrol, it’s probably not needed.
Continuously variable transmission (CVT) is standard for the S-Cross. As with most other CVTs, it’s not a gearbox that is conducive to hard acceleration of sporty driving, but it is effective in keeping the small engine in its most productive rev range regardless of driving conditions.
IS IT EASY TO LIVE WITH? Suzuki’s benchmark for S-Cross development was the Nissan Qashqai, which is a massive seller in Europe. That that end, the S-Cross mimicks Qashqai in its styling (embarrassingly so) and dimensions, making it slightly smaller than compact-crossover rivals such as the Toyota RAV4 and Mazda CX-5.
However, the little Suzuki is still a proper family-sized vehicle inside, with generous passenger space and versatile luggage carrying capacity.
The cabin styling is plain in the extreme, but some might like that: there’s certainly no pretension in the interior environment and the instrumentation/switchgear is clear and simple. The touch screen with satellite navigation (standard on Limited) will be a selling point; the sat-nav in particular has large and colourful graphics and is very easy to programme. The screen is also used for the reversing camera.
SHOULD I BUY ONE? You cannot argue with the S-Cross’s handsome styling or value for money. It also drives well and handles with a confident gait. The package ticks the boxes you’d expect and delivers everything a compact-crossover buyer could want. This will no doubt be an important model for Suzuki.
What it isn’t is exciting. No unique selling proposition comes to mind. For that reason it might be worth considering the four-wheel drive version: Suzuki is still a specialist in this area and the so-called Allgrip system is very good indeed, with Automatic, 50/50 Lock, Sport and Snow modes.
Allgrip is as much for on-road driving as off. Select Sport mode for the CVT in an S-Cross Allgrip (now there’s a mouthful) and you not only get a livelier transmission response, you also get 20 percent more torque to the rear axle.
Allgrip adds $3000 to the cost of the S-Cross Limited. We’d say it’s worth the premium – both in terms of driver satisfaction but also in making the car that little bit more special in a crowded crossover marketplace.
- Air conditioning: Dual climate
- Audio: CD, iPod compatible
- Automatic lights/wipers: No
- Blind spot warning: No
- Bluetooth: Yes
- Cruise control: Yes
- Driver footrest: Yes
- Gas discharge headlights: No
- Head-up display: No
- Heated/ventilated seats: No
- Keyless entry/start: Yes/Yes
- Lane guidance: No
- Leather upholstery: No
- Parking radar: Yes with camera
- Power boot or tailgate: No
- Power seat adjustment/memory: No
- Rear ventilation outlets: No
- Remote audio controls: Yes
- Satellite navigation: Yes
- Seat height adjustment: Yes
- Self-parking technology: No
- Split/folding rear seats: 60/40
- Steering reach adjustment: Yes
- Stop-start: No
- Trip computer: Yes
Find a Suzuki S Cross HERE