Facelift brings a stronger SUV-style look and downsized turbocharged engine
First launched in 2013, the S-Cross was Suzuki’s answer to the Nissan Qashqai. However, it never sold in high numbers,even though the market for such vehicles was growing rapidly. Why was that? According to Suzuki, a great deal came down to aesthetics. Put simply, it didn’t look like an SUV – a conclusion that clearly influenced the decision to give the S-Cross a major mid-life facelift.
The design team have treated the S-Cross to a whole new front end. A clamshell bonnet, steep nose, aggressive air intake and new headlights endow it with a compact pseudo-SUV look. Ground clearance is also slightly higher (by 15mm) to give an air of off-road capability.
Suzuki has jumped on the downsizing bandwagon, too, ditching its naturally aspirated petrol 1.6 for two smaller- capacity Boosterjet engines – the turbocharged 1.0 and 1.4 motors found in the Baleno and Vitara S.
We’ve already experienced Suzuki’s 1.0-litre unit in the lightweight Baleno and, in that application, we were impressed by its refinement, frugality and flexibility. However, putting the same three-cylinder motor in a car that’s 210kg heavier is a different prospect. Thankfully, this wasn’t lost on the development team, who benchmarked the 1.0 turbo against the old 1.6. The results are mixed: power is down at the top end by 7bhp but torque is up by 9%.
“Push harder and it will emit a distinctive growl, backed by impressive performance”
First impressions are rather disappointing. Press the starter button and the triple awakens gruffly, introducing a slight vibration into the cabin. However, on the move it quietens to an almost imperceptible thrum. Push harder and it will emit a distinctive growl, but this is backed by impressive performance. It’s happy to pull from below 2000rpm and continues to do so until it hits its soft limiter at around 5500rpm. A 0-62mph time of 11.0sec might not impress, but strong flexibility helps the S-Cross to feel rather sprightly in normal use.
Aside from the added ride height and revised damper settings, the S-Cross remains virtually identical to the model it replaces. However, this is no bad thing. The steering is direct, if somewhat anaesthetised, and body control is on a par with that of the Qashqai. Push harder and predictably there is some body roll, but it’s well controlled. The car is still let down somewhat by its low-speed ride, though. Revised damping has improved the primary ride, but around town it feels a little too fidgety and harsh. For day-to-day comfort, the Nissan still has the edge.
Inside, the S-Cross is also relatively unchanged. Minor updates include a new soft-touch dashboard pad, a piano black finish for the centre panel and new seat fabric for SZ4 and SZ-T models. The changes add to what is already a pleasant enough design, although the quality of the materials could still be better.
Still, it’s all well screwed together and, given the generous standard equipment, we predict that most buyers will forgive the hard-touch plastics. Our mid-level SZ-T test car came with sat-nav, a rear parking camera, front and rear parking proximity sensors, climate control and rear privacy glass as standard.
Ergonomics are a mixed bag. Forward visibility is good, the driving position is high and commanding and the front cabin is spacious. However, rear head room is compromised by the C-pillars and sloping roofline,as is rearward visibility. At the rear, the boot is bigger than a Skoda Yeti’s and on a par with a Qashqai’s.
Practical, economical and packed with standard kit, the 1.0-litre S-Cross is a cost-effective choice in the crossover segment. We’d recommend the slightly more expensive £19,499 SZ-T, which comes with automatical conditioning, a parking camera and sat-nav.
The S-Cross still isn’t perfect, though. The interior feels cheaper than its rivals, its low-speed ride is average and the deficit in rear head room is a real limitation. If you’re after a slightly classier cabin, we’d still suggest a similarly priced Yeti, and if it sail-round refinement you’re looking for, the answer is still the slightly pricier Qashqai.
Suzuki SX4 S-Cross 1.0 BoosterJet SZ-T
Improved by the revised looks and a peppy engine, but rivals offer better cabins or a more refined drive
Engine: 3cyls, 988cc, turbo, petrol
Power: 109bhp at 5500rpm
Torque: 125lb ft at 2000-3500rpm
Gearbox: 5-speed manual
Kerb weight: 1160kg
Top speed: 112mph
Economy: 56.4mpg (combined)
CO2/tax band: 113g/km, 19%
Rivals: Nissan Qashqai 1.2 DIG-T, Skod Yeti 1.2 TSI