Suzuki S-Cross overview
The new S-Cross sits in a slightly unoccupied sector of the market, as it's a little larger than the likes of the Renault Captur, Ford Puma and Peugeot 2008, but equally rather smaller than the Hyundai Tucson, the Nissan Qashqai, or the Kia Sportage. Actually, the closest rivals to the Suzuki S-Cross in terms of dimensions are probably the new Honda CR-V and the Dacia Duster - two more wildly disparate antagonists you could not hope to find.
Yet the Suzuki treads a line that's pretty much equidistant between those two extremes. It doesn't have the premium look nor feel of the Honda, yet it's not quite so cheap and cheerful as the Dacia. The S-Cross is related to the Suzuki Vitara crossover, but slightly larger in very dimension with a usefully larger boot and comes with a single engine choice - Suzuki's own 1.4-litre BoosterJet turbocharged petrol unit, with added 48-volt mild-hybrid assistance.
This version of the S-Cross also looks rather more attractive than its predecessor. The previous S-Cross, officially called the SX4 S-Cross, was more hatchback in style and was plastered with an ill-considered chrome grille later in its life. This S-Cross is not what you'd call spectacularly pretty nor imposing, but it's a neat-enough looking crossover. Certainly, it's inoffensive.
It's really well-priced too, with a starting point of less than €30,000 for the well-equipped Motion model.
But how does the S-Cross stack up in the real world?
The Suzuki S-Cross model range
As mentioned, the S-Cross - for now - comes with a single engine choice - the 129hp 1.4 BoosterJet four-cylinder, with 48-volt mild-hybrid assistance. In Motion form that will cost you €29,365 and pretty much the only options that Suzuki offers are metallic paint (€375 - the only no-cost colour option is a plain solid white) and an automatic gearbox (a hefty €2,030). Standard equipment for Motion models is decent - among other items you get a blind-spot monitor, rear cross traffic alert, traffic sign recognition, lane departure warning with steering intervention, a rear parking camera and front and rear parking sensors, radar-guided cruise control, keyless entry and ignition, heated front seats, dual-zone climate control, rain-sensing wipers, a seven-inch infotainment screen that includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, 17-inch alloy wheels, rear privacy glass and a 'chrome design pack', which is thankfully rather less garish than the old S-Cross's hateful grille.
For €34,640 you can upgrade to an S-Cross Ultra, which comes with Suzuki's 'AllGrip' four-wheel drive, a 360-degree parking camera, leather upholstery, a panoramic sunroof, a nine-inch infotainment screen with built-in navigation and some piano-black exterior styling elements.
The 1.4 BoosterJet engine has a CO2 emissions rating of 120g/km in front-drive Motion guise, and 133g/km in four-wheel-drive Ultra form. At the time of writing, Suzuki Ireland is offering the S-Cross with a zero per cent interest PCP deal, which assumed a deposit of €5,953 and a final payment of €13,096 with 36 monthly payments of €297. Check out the Suzuki Ireland website for the most up-to-date offers.
The Suzuki S-Cross interior
If ever it were fair to describe a car's cabin as 'cheap, but cheerful' then it's that of the S-Cross. There is nothing dramatically new nor ground-breaking here, but neither are there any calamitous mistakes nor problems.
The S-Cross gets the basics right - there's ample space inside, with good legroom and headroom in the front, and useful space in the back seat. The rear isn't massively roomy or anything, but two tall rear seat passengers fit in fine, and you can just about squeeze in a third rear-seater for short journeys.
The central touchscreen will be familiar if you've driven a Swift, Vitara, or Suzuki Baleno in recent years and the simple software doesn't seem to have been updated at all. It's a pretty basic system, but it works tolerably well, although some of the menu buttons and functions are rather fiddly to use when you're driving. Helpfully, there's standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, so you can bypass Suzuki's own software with your phone, although you'll never get away from the fact that this basic screen is slightly low-resolution. That goes equally for the picture you'll see on the reversing camera.
In front of the driver, there's a pair of clear, plain analogue dials and between those is a small but legible digital screen. Anyone who's missing a whizz-bang all-digital screen clearly hasn't noticed how well-laid out the S-Cross's instrument panel is, although the digital screen does have an annoying habit of flashing up extraneous information when all you want is a digital speed readout.
The quality of the S-Cross's cabin is pretty decent. There's a lot of cheap plastic on display, but everything feels well-enough bolted together, and Suzuki's incredibly good reputation for quality and reliability means you're less likely to be bothered by some rough-edged plastics. The panel for the climate controls is refreshingly straightforward to use, and there are some helpful storage areas, including one ahead of the gear lever in which you'll also find a solitary USB socket.
The boot, at 430 litres, is just about big enough. True, a Hyundai Tucson or Nissan Qashqai offers way more space, but I think we can still mark the S-Cross's boot down as 'adequate'. There's an adjustable boot floor and the rear seats fold almost completely flat when you need them to, with a 60:40 split.
The Suzuki S-Cross driving experience
Again, I feel that the word here is 'adequate'. The S-Cross is going to set no-one's heart aflame with a desire to get out and drive it, but it's perfectly fine. In fact, at first the steering feels almost sporty, with surprisingly good feel and a quick initial turn-in to corners. You soon realise that sporty feeling is more surface than substance, as the S-Cross's front tyres fail to bite with as much conviction as the steering initially has you thinking they might. The S-Cross feels fairly game on a twisting road, but it's clearly no hot hatch, and nor does it really need to be.
The 1.4 BoosterJet engine may be getting on a bit now, but with the addition of the 48-volt mild-hybrid module, it still feels up to the task. Performance isn't sparkling but it feels brisk enough, and there's definitely a faint improvement in mid-range shove thanks to the hybrid system. Better still, the S-Cross proved pretty economical in its time with us, averaging 5.6 litres per 100km against Suzuki's official figure of 5.3 litres per 100km. That's better than some full hybrids would manage, and shows just how much efficiency can be gained from having a light car - the S-Cross weighs a mere 1,235kg at the kerb.
The ride comfort is also fine - it can get a bit jittery over repetitive urban bumps, but again there's nothing much here to get upset about. Refinement could be better - wind and tyre noise are pretty rampant at a motorway cruise, but that's the price you pay for the low weight. Just crank up the stereo.
Our verdict on the Suzuki S-Cross
You could pretty easily dismiss the S-Cross with a wave of your hand and deployment of the phrase 'cheap and cheerful.' That does about sum it up, but the S-Cross is arguably slightly more than the sum of its parts. It's not a car to blow anyone's socks off with performance, styling, nor dynamics, but it's a well-thought-out family machine, well-made, likely hugely reliable and frugal. It's kind of hard not to appreciate all that. A solid workhorse of a car.
What do the rest of the team think?
Fans of the no-nonsense approach of the Suzuki brand will really like the S-Cross. It retains the characteristic hard-wearing interior and efficiency through low weight and minimal sophistication, but it pairs that with a more modern exterior and plenty of equipment. It's not for the image conscious, perhaps, nor for those that like a little luxury inside, but nonetheless it's a great-value option that should give its owner years of trouble-free service.
Shane O' Donoghue - Editor