The all-new Suzuki S-Cross is good to drive, but its slightly utilitarian interior won’t appeal to all buyers.
The new Suzuki S-Cross is a very important car for the brand. It is designed to push sales in the popular and lucrative small to mid-size SUV segment against the likes of the popular Nissan Qashqai, Kia Seltos and Hyundai Kona, and then at slightly larger rivals like the Nissan X-Trail, Hyundai Tucson and Kia Sportage.
As a result, Suzuki has taken a good look at some of the things its competitors do well and used that as the starting point for the new S-Cross – with the aim of beating its rivals wherever it could. It arrives in Australia next year and details such as pricing and specifications will be confirmed closer to then – but before then, we’ve been able to grab a first drive in the UK to see how it stacks up on first impression.
Some of the improtant changes include the engine, a turbocharged 1.4-litre four-cylinder mild-hybrid petrol unit, which produces 95kW and 235Nm. It’s a proven powertrain, as it’s also found in the Swift and the smaller Vitara crossover overseas.
It’s very willing, with all of that torque coming on strong right through the mid-range. Even if you ask for full throttle in sixth gear at 1500rpm the engine will respond, which makes freeway overtaking easy. The six-speed manual gearbox can feel a little agricultural at times, but that adds to the car’s charm.
The ride is a little jiggly at low speed but, once you’re out of the town and on an A-road, it settles down relatively nicely. There’s also plenty of grip and traction available, especially if you opt for the four-wheel drive system on the range-topping model. And, as the car is relatively light for this class, it feels surprisingly agile by family crossover standards.
Suzuki is also keen to point out that the S-Cross is one of the most economical cars in its class, providing you don’t compare it with any full hybrid or plug-in hybrid rivals. The cheaper front-wheel drive model offers claimed fuel economy of 5.6L/100km; the four-wheel drive manual variant we drove claims 5.9L/100km.
We’d have to spend more time with the car to get a better picture of its economy in the real world, but the early signs look promising.
However, there are drawbacks. The Suzuki S-Cross’s interior quality isn’t quite up to the standard of its Volkswagen Group competitors. Some of the trim feels quite cheap, and the doors are light and sound as much when you slam them shut. The switchgear also looks a little dated in this updated car, but all of the buttons are big and chunky, so they should prove robust.
You’d expect that, though, because the entry-level S-Cross remains a price-conscious offering in the UK where prices have been confirmed. We’d expect it will remain similar in Australia, too.
Standard includes adaptive cruise control, traffic sign recognition and a parking camera heated front seats, dual-zone climate control, a 4.2-inch driver information display and a seven-inch touchscreen. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are both fitted as standard, too. It also has 17-inch alloy wheels, automatic LED headlights, aluminium roof rails and electrically folding door mirrors.
Opt for the range-topping model and you get leather upholstery, a sliding panoramic sunroof and a 360-degree parking camera, which is a first for the brand.
The flagship model also boasts a larger nine-inch infotainment system, which features sharper graphics and a slicker interface than other Suzuki systems, so the sat-nav screen is a lot easier to read.
The rest of the cabin is spacious enough, too. There’s room for five adults inside and the boot has a capacity of 430 litres, which is exactly the same as the Qashqai’s despite the fact the S-Cross is slightly smaller in every dimension. And, there’s a handy latch system which pushes the bench’s backrest forward to liberate an extra 10 litres of space if you need it.
The third-generation Suzuki S-Cross is a definite step up over the old model. It drives well, there’s tonnes of standard equipment, just enough space for the average family and it should remain sharply priced. Cabin quality is a drawback, which isn’t quite as lavish as many of its rivals, but it’s an honest car that delivers what buyers in this class are looking for.
2022 Suzuki S-Cross specifications
|Engine:||Turbocharged 1.4-litre four-cylinder petrol|
|Transmission:||Six-speed manual or automatic, fron or all-wheel drive|
|On sale:||2022 (Australia)|