The Suzuki S-Cross has been made by the Japanese brand for a few years now but you’d be forgiven if you had forgotten about it. The styling was bland and a bit awkward which certainly didn’t help its cause and the drive itself wasn’t anything worth writing home about. It was like a pair of trousers, rather plain but functional and dependable.
However, there’s a new model, but is it any more memorable?
Suzuki has been keen to address the issues of the bland, awkward styling by fitting new front and rear bumpers as well as a new front grille. Now, you know what they say, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but even so, I still think many will be turned off by the looks of the S-Cross. Yes, it looks more dynamic and SUV-ish but I still feel it looks a bit ‘generic’ and it may struggle to stand out.
However, it is better looking than the Baleno and it’s not a car I’d call ugly, it’s just not as sharp as let’s say, a SEAT Ateca. The inside is very similar to the Baleno, so that means hard, scratchy plastics surrounded with silver trim which tries to liven up the whole affair. It’s not a fantastic interior but it’s functional and well-laid out so it’s not all bad.
Space and Comfort
Like the Baleno, the S-Cross features firm suspension so bear that in mind if you’re looking for something to soothe you on your commute home. This does mean you’ll get decent handling but I’ll get on to that later. Space in the front is generous but I was surprised there was not more room to be found in the back.
The rear legroom is just fine although a little more wouldn’t go amiss but the headroom is tight. My 6 foot 2 frame just about fits but if you are any taller I’m afraid you may need to go in the front or get the bus. There’s more space in the boot however – 430 litres can be found here, which is the same as the Nissan Qashqai. If you fold down the 60/40 seats you’ll be able to increase the capacity to 875 litres although that is far less than the 1,535 litres offered when the Qashqai’s rear seats are folded down.
Like the Baleno, getting a good driving position in the S-Cross was a doddle thanks to a steering wheel that adjusts for rake and reach although once again I find the seating position a little high. I know this is an SUV so it’s bound to have a higher driving position but I felt a little higher up than I did in cars such as the MG GS and SEAT Ateca.
The car’s comfortable enough but it won’t take you too long to realise that the suspension is firm. It’s by no means a deal-breaker but that may be enough to put some buyers off. The seats hold you in position well enough although thanks to the car’s adept handling I would want the seats to be bucketed a bit more but that is my personal preference.
What’s it like to drive?
Despite the styling I still think the S-Cross is a bit ‘generic’ but thankfully the nippy 1.0 litre boosterjet engine and keen handling help to give the car some much needed character. It’s pretty much the same setup as the Baleno, so that means a 1.0 litre boosterjet engine coupled with a five-speed manual which is slick enough although the change did feel a little loose.
There is also a 1.4 litre Boosterjet engine and a 1.6 litre diesel engine available as well as a 6-speed manual gearbox or a 6-speed auto. Driving the car was smooth and despite it having a rather sluggish 0-62 time of 11 seconds, the S-Cross felt pretty nippy and it can make some decent progress if you’re willing to work the gearbox a bit.
This model had power fed to the front wheels rather than all four but even so the S-Cross gripped well in the corners and the handling is impressive. There wasn’t much body roll to be had and the car became rather fun when the road got twisty. I did find the front wheels skipped over the surface on faster bends but this it’s not designed to take on Brands Hatch so I’ll forgive it for that.
The steering is on the light side though, I would want a bit more weight and communication from it but it’s not a major complaint. One complaint I do have is the rattling parcel shelf which can be heard when the road gets a little bumpy. It can be drowned out by music but long-term owners may find it an annoyance. The left indicator didn’t always cancel either and the engine’s stop/start sometimes didn’t operate. Other than that, the S-Cross was pleasurable to drive.
The S-Cross comes in three trims – SZ4, SZ-T and SZ5 with prices starting at £14,999. The model tested here is the mid-range SZ-T which is priced at £19,499 although mine had the Mineral Grey paint applied to bring the cost up to £19,929. It comes with a fair bit of kit and it’s cheaper than the equivalent Nissan Qashqai but it does put it in the same price range as a lot of its rivals.
Features in the SZ-T include keyless entry, 17” alloy wheels, dual-zone air conditioning, BlueTooth and smartphone connectivity, auto dim rear view mirror, sat nav, DAB radio, electric windows and LED headlights. It doesn’t stop there though; you also get auto lights and wipers, cruise control, rear facing camera plus front and rear parking sensors. Oh, it’s pretty safe too, thanks to the inclusion of seven airbags which will put your mind at rest if you’re carting around the family.
So I’m sure you’ll agree that is quite a lot of kit. Despite being a fair bit more than the base model, it’s hard not to recommend the SZ-T as it comes with so much more kit but if you want more, you can pay £24,349 for the range-topping SZ5 model which adds leather seats, panoramic sunroof, adaptive cruise control and heated front seats.
I did find the infotainment system a little slower than the one in the Baleno which is odd as it’s the same unit but I definitely noticed more of a delay when asking it to change music tracks but the system still worked well enough and it did everything I asked of it.
As mentioned, this S-Cross is fitted with the frugal 1.0 petrol unit which means economy should be pretty decent and indeed it as. It’s not quite as frugal as a diesel of course but if your heart is set on petrol this could be a good choice for you. On a combined run I was able to get around 47mpg (official figure 56.4mpg), on the motorway I was able to get 53mpg (61.4mpg extra urban) which improved to 56mpg when I blended in some A roads and in and around town I was able to hit anywhere between 38-42mpg (official figure 49.5).
Stop/start is on hand to offer better economy but if you’re still looking for more you can opt for the 1.6 litre DDiS diesel, which is able to offer a slightly improved combined run figure of 64.2mpg. You can also choose the 1.4 litre variant of the Boosterjet which offers a bit more performance – albeit not much – but offers less fuel economy as a result.
Suzuki has definitely improved the S-Cross but the formula still needs to tweaked a little bit if it’s to really compete with the Nissan Qashqai. That’s not to say it doesn’t have its good points because it certainly does. It handles well, it has plenty of kit and pleasant to drive although I still think the styling is a little off and it’s not as aesthetically pleasing as the Vitara – the car I’m testing next incidentally.
So the S-Cross is still like a pair of trousers in my opinion, only these ones have pinstripes and a fancy belt (with a shiny buckle).
Car Obsession Rating: (3.5 / 5)
- Loads of equipment
- Nippy engine
- Capable handling
- Not aesthetically pleasing
- Cheap, dull interior
- Suspension may be too firm for some