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)
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.
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.
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.
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
Bluetooth with audio streaming
Seven airbags (including driver’s knee airbag)
Tilt/telescopic steering wheel with audio controls
Four-speaker sound system
S-Cross GLX (2WD/AWD) adds:
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
Mirror-mounted side indicators
Auto dimming rear vision mirror
S-Cross GLX Prestige (AWD) adds:
Double sliding panoramic sunroof
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.
- 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)