Drives deftly, comes loaded with with equipment
The interior is short on quality detailing
What is it?
The outgoing Suzuki SX4 S-Cross wasn’t a car imbued with much drama or excitement. It launched looking suspiciously like a MkI Qashqai, offering a similar bunch of skills but costing the kind of money new that the Nissan commanded on the used market. It was a sensible buy above literally everything else.
But lasting over eight years on sale – longer than the usual five- or six-year lifespan typical across the industry – it clearly did a solid job for Suzuki. Nevertheless, the new one is here and looks more beguiling.
It ain’t pretty, but which crossover is? Rivals like the Peugeot 3008 and Hyundai Tucson have proved a bit of aesthetic bravado can go far in such a crowded segment. The latest S-Cross isn’t quite in their league, but for once it might warrant a second glance as you stroll past. In the words of Suzuki itself, the car "now looks right".
What’s new beyond the styling?
Actually, not a huge amount. Suzuki’s kept the recipe intact, offering the new S-Cross with the same mild-hybrid powertrain as the outgoing one.
It sees a 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol engine (which Suzuki calls ‘Boosterjet’, making us think it was named by a toddler on bring your child to work day) with 128bhp/173lb ft peaks driving either the front or all four wheels, depending on spec.
The hybrid bit is extremely mild; it’s the same 48V architecture as the latest Swift Sport and doesn’t allow for any emission-free running or suchlike. It apparently papers over the Boosterjet’s low-down turbo lag while smoothing out the stop/start function in traffic. A full hybrid will follow in time.
Suzuki claims 53.2mpg and 120g/km of CO2 emissions for the S-Cross as a base FWD manual, with those figures respectively dipping and rising as you add an automatic gearbox or 4x4 transmission. Though claiming 46.3mpg and 139g/km in its most decadent trim, the S-Cross shouldn’t attract the ire of Extinction Rebellion too abruptly. Not least because with its 9.5secs 0-62mph time and 118mph top speed, performance is best described as ‘tame’. At least on paper.
So I only have one engine to choose from?
Yep, and just two specs as well. They’re called Motion and Ultra, and the latter is basically your only way to snare four-wheel drive. The Motion costs £24,995 and comes with very few blanked-off switches. There’s 17in alloys, heated front seats, a 7.0in touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and a whole bunch of active safety systems all as standard. The only options boxes you can tick are for metallic paint (£550) or the auto box (£1,350).
If you want 4WD, you need to go for the S-Cross Ultra, which costs £29,799 and as well as a driven rear axle, adds another two inches to the touchscreen, a 360-degree parking camera (which works very well indeed), part leather seats and a ginormous panoramic sunroof.
What's the verdict?
The Suzuki S-Cross is not a car you’d ever love. But if you’re dishing out £25,000 (or 200-odd quid a month) on a small SUV, you’re probably not looking for a mechanised new family member anyway.
It offers a helluva lot of equipment for a price roughly equivalent to the base spec of its key rivals, while serving up stuff many of its foes don’t – the combination of a manual gearbox and 4WD transmission among them.
Its hybrid element is thus far small, but the performance lent to the S-Cross by its sliver of electrification is laudable. This is a crossover that’s brisk, deft to drive and should be a doddle to live with. It may prove hard to love, but it’ll be even tougher to vehemently criticise.