2014 Suzuki S-Cross Review: GL, GLX And GLX Prestige

Tim O'Brien | 34 Comments

SUZUKI S-CROSS REVIEW

What’s Hot: Comfortable, spacious inside, and an appealing drive.
What’s Not: Needs a little more power, CVT is a bit dozey.
X-FACTOR: More wagon than SUV, but more SUV than hatch: Suzuki’s S-Cross is a compact combo of the good bits of each.

Vehicle style: Compact Crossover SUV
Price: GL $23,990, to GLX Prestige $35,990 (driveaway)
Engine/trans: 83kW/187Nm 1.6 litre petrol | 7spd CVT auto (manual in base-spec GL)
Fuel consumption listed: 6.1 l/100km | tested: 7.8 l/100km (CVT)

OVERVIEW

Ok, here’s some good news. Now officially on sale, Suzuki Australia has kicked off the campaign for its new S-Cross with driveaway pricing deals across the range.

Does this amount to an admission that the pricing announced at launch of the S-Cross was a tad hot? Yep, I’d reckon.

Though cheap enough at entry, $22,990 plus on-roads for the GL manual, things got a bit hectic above the base-spec model.

Now, the range starts at $23,990 driveaway. And that’s closer to the mark.

That pricing revision puts it in a much better position to take on the Dualis and ASX, et al, as well as newer contenders like the Trax, Juke and EcoSport.

It is an interesting one - Suzuki’s S-Cross. It’s quite a bit larger and more of a wagon, or maybe more an ‘extended hatch’, than the SX4 it replaces.

It is certainly a crossover: a genre-buster that feels like a hatch to drive, has the legroom and boot of a wagon and the slightly more upright stance of an SUV.

And, depending upon the model, it can also be had with AWD grip.

In size and shape, the S-Cross is actually not unlike the Honda Insight hybrid, although its closest competitor is the cross-dressing Dualis (soon to be renamed Qashqai).

The S-Cross though has the biggest boot in its class, ample legroom, looks a more expensive buy in the mid and upper-spec models, and drives surprisingly well.

We like it: it’s inoffensive to the eye, well-kitted and more than half-decent on road.

THE INTERIOR

Suzuki builds its cars very well (and has the customer satisfaction ratings to prove it). This interior looks quite ok and is certainly well put-together.

It’s as tight as a kettle-drum, the surfaces are generally appealing, and, except for the drab blank spaces around the screen display and audio controls, it all looks pretty good.

Most will find it appealing, sensibly laid-out and comfortable.

The seats in the lower-spec GL are a bit flat in the rear, but the material weave is tight and looks like it could take a bit of family punishment.

Front seats are ok, easily adjusted and nicely padded, if not especially deep.

Standard features vary according to the model grade. The GL looks a bit bland as it misses the chrome accents of the upper-spec models, and also misses on the screen display.

Family buyers will be pleased to find that the boot is a cracker; wide and deep, it’s the biggest in its class and with a large and really nifty underfloor storage area.

For storage, there’s 430 litres to the window-line with rear seats in place, expanding to 1269 litres maximum, seats folded flat.

Key standard features across the model range

S-Cross GL:

Bluetooth with audio streaming
Cruise control
Seven airbags (including driver’s knee airbag)
Tilt/telescopic steering wheel with audio controls
Four-speaker sound system
Roof rails

S-Cross GLX (2WD/AWD) adds:

Keyless entry/start
Dusk-sensing headlights and rain-sensing wipers
Dual-zone climate control air-conditioning
Seven-speaker sound system
6.1-inch touchscreen with satnav, Bluetooth, USB integration
Reversing camera, rear parking sensors
Seven-speed paddle-shift
Mirror-mounted side indicators
Auto dimming rear vision mirror

S-Cross GLX Prestige (AWD) adds:

Double sliding panoramic sunroof
Leather interior

ON THE ROAD

Point the S-Cross at a corner and the sporting soul that lurks in all Suzukis is apparent. It can really carry some speed through an apex, and the front end stays surprisingly flat.

Interestingly, because there is a bit of weight (in a light car) in that wagon back, it will readily tighten the line with a little sideways slip from the rear. We noticed this at the wheel of both 2WD variants and 4WD.

The secret to the Suzy’s handling though is in a very good front end.

It is progressively damped and has sufficient suspension travel to isolate big shocks that would otherwise hammer through the wheel, but then firms for good control and handling feel.

For what it is, a compact crossover with families in mind, I’d doubt there will be complaints about ride and handling - neither from drivers nor passengers.

The feel at the wheel too is about right, given that this is a ‘crossover’.

It’s light but consistently weighted, firming slightly away from centre, as it should. (Unlike some electric systems that have heavy resistance just off centre, which then suddenly evaporates as the assistance kicks in.)

From the wheel, except when powering out of a turn, it’s hard to pick whether you’re driving the FWD car, or AWD.

On slippery roads in the wet it will be noticeable, but I had to check on one occasion (“which one is this...?”).

The letdown for me though is the engine and drivetrain combination.

That smooth-spinning 1.6 under the bonnet toils manfully, and is crisp and balanced, but the S-Cross is not as lively as we’d like, even given the quite light 1100kg kerb weight.

Its cause isn’t helped by a CVT (in all but the base model) that is ‘flary’.

Get hard on the juice at a low speed, like when wanting to quickly accelerate up a hill or out of a corner, and the C-Cross moans and groans as the CVT catches up to the engine revs.

Using the paddle-shift helps, a bit - there are seven virtual ratios there - but it’s not like ‘a manual’.

It’s not overly slow, but neither is it quick.

Most will find it 'about right' for most driving situations - it’s quick enough when overtaking for instance - but there will be occasions where you may find it wanting.

Key Specifications and safety features

Weight: 1085kg (manual); 1125kg (CVT models)
Engine: 83kW/187Nm 1.6 litre DOHC
Transmission: 5-spd manual (GL only); 7-spd CVT
Suspension: McPherson strut front; torsion-beam rear
Safety: Front, side, curtain and knee-airbags standard, traction control, ABS, brake assist and stability control standard
Turning circle: 10.4m

FIRST DRIVE VERDICT | OVERALL

Yes, it’s inoffensive and a little anonymous, but the S-Cross is quite a nice car from Suzuki.

Family buyers, in particular, would do well to look it over.

Because of the superior comfort levels on road and the extra room and better packaging all-round, we think it’s a better prospect than the ASX (and its various Peugeot and Citroen derivatives) though there is no diesel in prospect.

At the moment we’d rate it behind the Dualis however - that one is a pretty good car.

But the Suzuki is a little different, looks smart and will give years of service. Suzuki, as its ranking on customer satisfaction surveys attest, pretty much builds bullet-proof cars.

Put those pluses together and you’ve got some good reasons to give Suzuki’s S-Cross a very close look.

PRICING

  • S-Cross GL - 2WD manual - $22,990 ($23,990 drive-away)
  • S-Cross GL - 2WD auto - $25,490 ($26,490)
    -
  • S-Cross GLX - 2WD auto - $29,990 ($30,990)
  • S-Cross GLX - AWD auto - $32,990 ($33,990)
    -
  • S-Cross GLX Prestige - AWD auto - $34,990 ($35,990)

Filed under: Featured, review, Suzuki, petrol, crossover, Suzuki SX4, suv, hatch, automatic, compact suv, CVT, family, light, Advice, special-featured, 4cyl, 5door, 5m, 5seat, available, suzuki s-cross, 2014my, 2013my launch

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  • Chest Rockjaw says,
    2 years ago
    3 likes
    Under engined, over headlighted, over priced = FAIL
    • MotorMouth says,
      2 years ago
      12 likes
      Compared to what? It's two grand cheaper than ASX and three grand less than Dualis. It even manages to be cheaper than the Holden Trax. Sure, it has less power than any of those vehicles but it is also more than 200kg lighter, so power-to-weight ratios are similar. The Indian built Ford Ecosport is a few hundred cheaper but has even less power and weighs 150Kg more. I can't disagree on the headlights, though.
      • Chest Rockjaw says,
        2 years ago
        2 likes
        You make valid points... I agree.
    • Auto Agitator says,
      2 years ago
      So what makes you the lounge chair expert?
      • Doctor says,
        2 years ago
        1 like
        Auto Agitator, sounds like you drive a Corolla biggrin
  • Grumps
    Grumps says,
    2 years ago
    1 like
    83/187 might be okay for a driver plus one passenger but load it up with a couple of extras plus luggage and watch/hear it struggle.

  • Timster46 says,
    2 years ago
    2 likes
    Why the puny 1.6! They have 1.8ltrs, 2.4ltrs and what not but decide that a smaller motor will do. No understanding of what customers really want under the hood.
    • pro346 says,
      2 years ago
      2 likes
      its a much lighter car than its competition but still....smile
      • johndoe says,
        8 months ago
        it has a "puny" 1.6 cause of the tax you pay when you buy it.. if it were a 2.4 l it would be 1000 or even 2000 euros more expensive, just in taxes.. and it is a good enough motor for all intents and purposes. 10 sec to 100km/hr is decent enough.

        p.s. do you even buy your own petrol? or own a car, other than in a computer game?
    • MotorMouth says,
      2 years ago
      3 likes
      It has the "puny 1.6" because it's tiny and because they already have SUVs with those bigger engines for customers who want/need them. It hasn't replaced any existing model, it is meant to sit below the SX4 as a new entry-level offering.
      • Timster46 says,
        2 years ago
        That's true, I guess I could be wrong.
      • TruthforSkippies says,
        2 years ago
        1 like
        Wrong on all points.
  • Mitch says,
    2 years ago
    What was the manual like to use?

    Apart from only being in the base spec does it perform better than the CVT?
    • Tim O'Brien says,
      2 years ago
      2 likes
      Yo Mitch, sorry to say haven't got to the manual yet. We'll be covering it shortly, keep your eye on things here.

      We'd expect it to be livelier than the auto.

      As an aside, strangely enough (well, strange to those of us who really enjoy driving), manual transmissions now account for around 13 percent of passenger car purchases, and falling.

      Even in sports cars, autos dominate at around six-to-one. And figures from three years ago show that around 70 percent of new drivers, P-platers, are limited to automatics.

      I don't have the latest stats to hand on this auto/manual divide, but Suzuki will likely sell very few manuals, perhaps numbered in just the dozens over the year.

      Tim



      • Mitch says,
        2 years ago
        Thanks Tim,

        I didn't catch that the manual wasn't part of this review.

        In regards to the ever-diminishing manual I find it a worry. I just hope that however small, the enthusiast market will still demand a manual.

        As another aside. Do you know of any makers to make their paddle shift more like a sequential shifter (a la rally car)? The idea of changing gears with some paddles doesn't appeal to me but if they made it feel like a pseudo rally car it could offer a different experience. Hopefully one that still lets us think that we are in control of the car.

        Cheers,
        Mitch
        • Tim O'Brien says,
          2 years ago
          Hi Mitch, essentially what you're describing with the sequential shift is the way the plus-minus plane works on the centre-shift of a sports auto.

          You know, for most, push forward for upshifts, pull back for down. Some (Ford, among others) work to an opposite plus-minus plane.

          Also, some of the better ones will let you 'stack' the changes on downshifts.

          But, true, it's not quite like having the shift sitting up at near shoulder height, inviting a rapid thump foward or back through a straight-cut gearbox.

          Tim
          • DE says,
            2 years ago
            3 likes
            Personally I prefer Ford's way of doing it, i.e. back for upshift, forward for downshift as it mimics actual sequential gearboxes, e.g. those used by racecars such as the V8's.
      • TruthforSkippies says,
        2 years ago
        3 likes
        Autos now dominate in Australia because Australians are looking and acting more and more like fat (i.e. obese) and lazy Americans, with every passing day.
        • Fred says,
          2 years ago
          1 like
          Autos now dominate in Australia because Australians are looking and acting more and more like fat (i.e. obese) and lazy Americans, with every passing day.


          What a load of rubbish.

          Automatic gearboxes are much better these days, don't use a lot more fuel (sometimes less) and suit the traffic conditions of today.

          An Enthusiast will have a manual car or a motorbike as well.
          Seeing the traffic on weekends though, I think that'll change as well.
  • Dr. Know says,
    2 years ago
    It certainly wouldn't win any contests for it's looks. Tested fuel economy is no great shakes either.
  • FrugalOne says,
    2 years ago
    1 like
    WHERE IS THIS MADE>?smile
    • Birdseye says,
      2 years ago
      Spain I thinksmile.. shame it looks like it's had to much caffeine with those headlightssad
    • S-cross says,
      2 years ago
      1 like
      It's made at the Suzukis plant in Hungary. Wait until the turbo charged disel engine arrives in AUS. It's an awsome engine made by FIAT. This engine is prefectly right for this car.
  • Nightshader says,
    2 years ago
    My first car before I knew anything about cars was a Suzuki Liana with a 1.6.
    For years afterwards I regretted the decision (once I realised how much of a POS it was)
    When I look back now however my opinion has changed.
    Sure almost every external little stick on part fell off (why stick everything on!!) but I drove that car hard. Almost every shift of its 200000km life from new was at the red line and the internals never missed a beat.
  • troy says,
    2 years ago
    owww!! who crashed that dualis???

    what a horrible front!!!
  • litapajar says,
    2 years ago
    It's a little cheaper than Dualis but also comes with less in the base model. Dualis and ASX come with reversing camera in the base model. if you add that option to S-cross, price dynamics will change.
  • david briese says,
    2 years ago
    :bit over priced see what happens as like when i brought my 2013 newbleh
  • misterpete says,
    1 year ago
    1 like
    holding out for the diesel , or should i just buy a skoda yeti tdi?
    • Yecov says,
      1 year ago
      yes,
      Given the weak legs me too! I'm waiting for the diesel so long as it isn't too long.
      UP WITH THE DIESEL and GO Suzuki
  • YT says,
    1 year ago
    We would consider the S-cross but the lack of grunt even though it is a light car will keep us away from the dealer. If it where to come in something over 100Kw and 200Nm it would be top of the list especially if it was diesel.
    • Larch says,
      1 year ago
      1 like
      Think of the 6L per 100k can not do that with more power. I have one. As it handles so well you can go into a corner faster, you come out faster and without the body roll. The scross is up and going will you are still trying to get some other makes back under control.
  • anon says,
    1 year ago
    3 likes
    I bought the Base manual model , no issues biggrintill now, ample amount of boot space , for few people engine size might be issue but 1.6L petrol is enough for city and around and long run until you are racing with other cars on freeway , manually you can control it better .. but depends on taste , visibility is great , 6 speaker Audio , USB , FM .., if you want ample amount of space under 20K AUD ,which can drive you around city and in great car.
  • Nicole says,
    5 months ago
    Hi I am currently looking for a SUV under the $20,000 mark. My husband owns an aspire ASX - a very nice car to drive but a bit slow on pick up on hills but we knew that before we got it. No regrets. Love that drive in the ASX. I wanted something very close to the ASX or an ASX. They are out of my price range atm. I came across the Suzuki S Cross by accident today searching for the Side mirror sensor technology features on SUV's. The S Cross looked nice on paper and the Price was close to my price limit. Called up our local dealer and took one for a test drive about an hour ago. I liked the drive. Pretty basic inside but it has the main features of the ASX without the price tag of the ASX. So for me it is a close second place to the ASX. I have decided to go for it. Since Suzuki is a Japanese brand of car also I have no problems in worrying about the build of the car or the parts issues on car for the future. All the bits it is missing like reverse camera, seat warmers and reverse sonar I can get added to the car later from Jay Car or somewhere like that. The advantage of doing it that way is I don't pay for fixed technology in the car one big down point about the ASX aspire is the navigational system software is expensive to upgrade and out of date before you put it in the car again. We just use our phones in the ASX for navigational mapping needs as it is up to date and free to get the maps. If we want flash we have it in the ASX. If we need the ASX in a cheaper format for running around town and for day to day use with the same safety features as the ASX plus the bonus of all the extras on the ASX you have it in the S Cross. I think it makes a good run around second car for the family. His choice is the ASX aspire - her choice would be either the ASX or S Cross. If your budget can't get you the ASX aspire go for the S Cross. Room in the back is bigger than the ASX and it drives so close to the ASX it is good enough sub for second family car. I think it keeps you all safe and at the end of the day that is all that matters and it drives so smoothly it was a great drive. Just hope they come to the price my max buy price is will find out monday how I go. Oh and as for pick up I tested that one out against a Mazda 3 at a tricky set of lights near our place and the S Cross left the Mazda 3 in the wind and the rank of cars stuck behind it. So that is important as I will have to do that trick every time I drop my daughter off to school so I can get her there in time and not get caught by the snail trail of cars at the particular set of lights. Down side was no 4WD but really I don't think I need it. Also 4WD in the ASX aspire is not really functional as the car is too long to go bouncing up and down really rough and jaggard dirt tracks so it is only good for raining weather on the main roads or if you want to fly down a smooth dirt track without the car loosing grip. Since I don't go down dirt tracks I don't need it. If the weather is that bad we can always swap cars and I can jump into the ASX to make sure we are in the safest car if we are heading out to drive in a bad storm. I don't think the S Cross is as good as the ASX but it is really close and good on the budget for the family. Better than a hatch back or a sedan. Also I love the hidden compartment for valuables in the boot section of the S Cross so we can put the Tablets in there when go out for a few hours away from the car or have money we have to hide in the car. Good feature. Hope this helps if I can afford the car I will come back and let you know how we are finding it. Give it a test drive if you are looking for an SUV. It does have that pick up you need for overtaking.
    • Jodi Nepean says,
      5 months ago
      Nicole, how do you get the price down? I am also looking for a car around 20,000 but the s cross is currently on sale for 22990. I live in a small town and would prefer to buy from the local dealership but may have to either go out of town for abetter deal or look at a different car. I haven't had a test drive yet as they have to get it brought over from a larger dealership. Are you able to tell me, in regards to size, what other would it be similar to? I really am looking for good fuel economy but don't want a buzz box feel. I have two teenagers - one who will probably get own car this year but sometimes fill current car with parents, friends, etc so don't want to be too squished. I sometimes think I should just replace holden commodore wagon with a newer model but it guzzles fuel.
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