Suzuki S-Cross review
Fresh more efficient petrol engines top mid-life refresh for crossover
What is it? The fresh Suzuki S-Cross is a major facelift to C-segment crossover
Key features: Fresh more efficient petrol engines, all suggested with 4WD
Our view: Not as dynamically efficient as some rivals, but improved efficiency and excellent value for money
Type of review: Total road test
When Suzuki substituted its previous SX4 with the S-Cross in 2013, the fresh model was described as the brand’s very first C-segment crossover and was clearly aimed at capitalising on a mushrooming market. Its styling was deliberately aimed at a more road-friendly look, distinguishing it from the similarly-sized but more off-road pitched Vitara.
Three years on, the S-Cross is getting a significant makeover, the most prominent part of which is the replacement of its previous 1.6-litre petrol engine with a choice of fresh and more efficient Boosterjet units, of either 1.0 or 1.Four litres.
The 1.6-litre diesel also remains available, meantime, and all three engines can be specified with either front or all-wheel-drive, the petrol units with manual or auto transmissions.
Other switches on the fresh model include revisions to the styling, especially at the front, a 15mm addition to the ground clearance and a redesigned interior.
Design – a more distinctive, SUV look
The major switches to the S-Cross styling are at the front end, which gets a more upright look with a significantly more prominent grille – the curved horizontal slats are gone, substituted by vertical versions with chrome detailing and surround. The lamps both front and rear are redesigned, the fronts sitting under the clam-shell design bonnet.
The aim is clearly to give the car a more distinctive, more SUV look – one of the reasons for modest S-Cross sales figures in the past three years is believed to have been the innocuous visual profile it presents. It’s still not as distinguishable amongst the crossover masses as is the Vitara, but it is an improvement on the previous version.
The S-Cross interior has always been practical and reasonably well appointed, and subtle updates serve to improve it. The instruments are big and clear, the satellite navigation screen, standard on the top two models SZ-T and SZ-5, of particularly good quality and effortless to use.
There is slew of adjustability in the driver’s seat and steering wheel, making it effortless to get comfy, and fit and finish is generally of acceptable quality, tho’ uneven road surfaces did encourage the odd rattle from the top of the dash in our test vehicle.
Interior space, as one expects in a crossover, is plentiful, the S-Cross lightly able to accommodate five adults in convenience. The driving position is high and with an excellent view all around, and the only area of criticism is the rear-seat headroom, which is slightly compromised by the sloping roof line. The 430-litre boot is fatter than many rivals and extends to eight hundred seventy five litres with the rear seat backs folded down. It also includes a useful two-level floor to hide valuables out of glance.
Engines and drivetrains – incredible efficiency
The fresh engines are the headline switch to the S-Cross – the previous 1.6-litre petrol units making way for a pair using Suzuki’s Boosterjet direct injection turbo technology, promising power and torque of much larger-capacity units alongside significant fuel economy and emissions savings.
Our test car came supplied with the three cylinder 1.0-litre Boosterjet, very first seen in the much smaller Baleno hatch. Now an engine of just one litre capacity might sound anathema in the much stronger surroundings of a crossover, and at 111hp it is seven horses less powerful than the 1.6-litre. Yet it offers nine per cent more torque with 170Nm, while fuel economy is improved by ten per cent, CO2 emissions cut by eleven per cent. This puts the Suzuki ahead of many of its mainstream rivals.
The 1.Four is even more awesome – seventeen per cent more powerful, with forty one per cent more torque, than the 1.6, yet still four per cent more economical.
While both engines are compact, lightweight units, the major clue to their efficiency is the use of a puny displacement, high torque turbocharger. Its wastegate valve closes to create higher boost pressure under stream but stays open during normal driving, reducing pumping losses and achieving better power and fuel efficiency.
On the road – well-behaved and convenient
The engine does rattle a bit into life on very first pressing the begin button but soon lodges down to a sleek idle. And this refinement remains as one accelerates to motorway cruise levels, the three-cylinder unit’s audio note virtually unnoticeable even at high speed.
The little unit will take a two-wheel-drive S-Cross through 62mph from rest in eleven seconds, our 4WD test model following a 2nd behind. While this is not exactly rapid, it’s ideally adequate and certainly feels antsy enough. The diesel-like torque delivery, its 170Nm maximum served up inbetween Two,000 and Three,500rpm, makes for fine plasticity, particularly in busy town traffic.
The only significant switch to the S-Cross chassis has been to raise the rail height by 15mm to 180mm, to give it more of the look of an SUV. Gratefully this does not make any difference to the car’s very creditable on-the-road spectacle.
The steering is well weighted, making it effortless to place the car in corners, with the extra grip of the all-wheel-drive system helping to pull through leans when pushing on.
Rail convenience is good on slick surfaces, however less flawless roads lightly unsettle the car, with bumps and dips felt in the cabin. All in all however the S-Cross behaves very well on the road.