Automotive Blog – Suzuki SX4 S-Cross Review
Look past the somewhat lurid green paint,
and the new Suzuki S-Cross is actually an endearing take on the crossover. Although
it bears some family resemblance to the regular SX4, the S-Cross shares practically nothing
with its smaller brother. It’s quite neatly styled, with lots of protective plastic cladding,
silver skid plates and a subtle shoulder crease. But don’t worry, you don’t have to have the
Crystal Lime Metallic paint of our test car if it’s not your thing.
Inside, although it’s
predominantly black in here, there’s a welcome dash of silver trim to lift the ambiance a
little. The seats offer good comfort and plenty of adjustment, as does the steering wheel,
and there’s soft padding in the important places such as on the doors and the central
armrest. There’s also a colossal double sunroof on top-spec models that floods the cabin with
light. The dashboard itself is intelligently laid out, the Garmin-sourced media and navigation
system works well, and the blue-ringed dials couldn’t be easier to read.
Rear seat passengers
have been given plenty of knee room, but head-room is a little tight for anyone six-foot or over,
particularly on cars with that huge sunroof. Still, the seat backs recline slightly for
greater comfort on longer journeys, or fold forward easily to increase cargo space. To
start with, there’s 430 litres of space in the boot, with a dual-level floor that allows
you to hide valuables out of sight, and with the split rear seats folded forward space
increases to a total of 875 litres. Two engines are available – one diesel and one petrol
– both of 1.6 Litres and both with around 120ps.
Our car is the petrol model with a
manual gearbox, and although it’s no rocket ship – needing 12 seconds to get to 62mph
– it does still have its plus-points. You need to rev it to get the best out of
it, but in normal driving it’s a very forgiving unit, rarely complaining at being left in
the wrong gear. That’s unlikely to happen often, because the five-speed manual gearbox
has been given a light and satisfying shift action that makes it easy to extract the best
from the engine. Just as enjoyable is the handling.
Of course it leans a little in the
bends, as you’d expect from any crossover, but it does so calmly and progressively. It
turns in well, too, and although the suspension is undoubtedly firm, Suzuki’s engineers have
managed to strike an endearing balance between control and compliance. In fact our only complaint
would be with the steering, which although offering about as much feedback as electrically-assisted
racks do these days, it does have a slight nervousness either side of the straight-ahead
position that’s noticeable at motorway speeds. Of course, most owners are unlikely to tackle
anything trickier than a festival car park, so the AllGrip four-wheel-drive system ditches
the heavy and complex hardware in favour of a simpler system controlled by a Drive Mode
selector mounted by the gear lever.
It provides a Sport mode which tightens the throttle response
and sends an additional 20% more torque to the rear wheels, plus a Snow mode which is
for use in muddy and slippery conditions. The Lock button sends equal torque to both
front and rear axles and is intended for sustained off-road use, but in Auto mode the engine
drives the front wheels, switching into 4WD. Automatically if required. The system worked
well on our forest test route, although we didn’t venture into the really horrible gloopy
bits, but on terrain like this Auto or Snow modes would suffice, and you’d really only
need to use the Lock button if you got yourself stuck in something smelly.
The advantage of
this simpler 4WD system is good fuel economy, but the little S-Cross amazed us by not just
achieving its government economy figure of 47.8Mpg, but beating it, recording just over
50mpg on a longer run. Prices for the Suzuki S-Cross start at 14,999, with our top-spec
SZ5 AllGrip test car coming at just under 22,000. So, while the Suzuki S-Cross might
not exactly set your hair on fire, given time its endearing handling, excellent economy
and tons of space might just win you over. It did us..