2017 Suzuki S-Cross punches above its weight
What we like:
- Good size
- Well equipped
- Value for money
- Punchy performance
- Fantastic fuel consumption
- Biggish boot for the groceries
Not so much:
- Bit too much plastic
- New front grille is an eyeful
- Misses out on Android Auto
- Could do with rear air vents
- Ride can be harsh at times
- Occasional clunky gear change
Suzuki’s new S-Cross packs a punch.
It’s been two years since the car maker introduced the first S-Cross but a lot longer if you count the first compact SX-4 introduced in 2007, because the car still carries both monikers.
A practical but ultimately boring little high rider, Suzuki has seized the opportunity to breath a bit of excitement into the car with the latest edition.
It’s thrown caution to the wind with the adoption of a raunchy new turbo across the range.
And, just as it did with Vitara, it’s slapped a “Turbo” badge on the back, just to make sure you don’t miss the point – after all Aussies like a good badge.
The latest S-Cross is both visually and mechanically different, starting with a bold new radiator grille that is sure to polarise opinion.
Visually challenged or not, it’s sure to attract attention and that is the name of the game.
Featuring 10 vertically mounted bars, the grille looks suspiciously like something Jeep might produce and it is a wonder the US icon hasn’t had something to say – it tends to become protective where copyright is concerned?
But the heart of the matter is a 103kW 1.4-litre 16 valve turbocharged petrol engine that delivers 20 per cent more power and 40 per cent more torque.
It’s also made the switch to a 6-speed auto instead of the silly CVT.
With seating for five the wagon comes with seven airbags, a rear view camera as standard and scores a five-star safety rating from ANCAP.
Standard kit includes satellite navigation, cruise control and 17-inch alloys, along with Apple CarPlay – but not Android Auto at this stage.
Pay the extra large for the upmarket Prestige and you add polished alloys, leather trim, push button start, LED headlights, auto lights and wipers, an auto dimming rear-view mirror and rear parking sensors.
Priced from $28,990 driveaway, or $30,990 for Prestige, it’s considerably more expensive than before – but still represents excellent value with on-roads thrown in.
Suzuki believes the new model with conservative styling will appeal to older folk looking for comfort over glitz.
We reckon they’ll zero in on the car’s ultra low fuel consumption – rated at just 5.9 litres/100km.
Nothing remarkable here.
It’s roomy and practical with good all round vision. The steering wheel is reach and height adjustable, with height adjustment for the driver’s seat. The finish feels a little cheap, but the seats are comfortable enough and in the Prestige are trimmed in leather. There’s also plenty of head and legroom up front with adequate legroom in the back, thanks to scooped out seat backs.
Front seat occupants luxuriate in two-zone climate air conditioning but rear seat passengers miss out on air vents of any kind.
The instrumentation is clear and easy to read and like other Suzukis we’ve driven in recent times the dash is dominated by a large, classy looking 7 inch computer screen.
The system supports Apple CarPlay, but as yet not Android Auto. We’re told the first Suzy to get AA will be the new Ignis when it is launched later this month. Either way your phone has to be plugged into the car to use it and the benefits are somewhat limited.
Under the Bonnet
Believe it or not this car is actually slightly larger than Vitara, with a 100mm longer wheelbase that translates to a bigger boot and more rear legroom.
The 1.4 litre four cylinder turbocharged petrol engine is in fact a lift from the Vitara Turbo and develops the same 103kW of power and 220Nm of torque, the latter between 1500 and 4000 revs.
It’s a big step up on the 86kW/156Nm delivered by the superseded 1.6 naturally aspirated donk.
The engine is paired with a traditional 6-speed auto which comes with the added bonus of gear change paddles, for those seeking a little more control – a rarity at this end of the market.
Suspension is Mac strut front and torsion beam rear, with a generous 430 litre boot that hides a space saver spare.
On the Road
We clocked up well over 1500km behind the wheel of this little beast over Christmas. Even though it’s got the same engine and 6-speed auto as the Vitara, it goes a hell of a lot better. It’s quick off the line, pulls strongly through the mid range and is generally fun to drive.
The secret lies in the wide band of torque that kicks in from a low 1500 revs and powers on all the way through to 4000 rpm. That and the fact the car is about 65 kg lighter than Vitara, without the trappings of all wheel drive. Suffice to say we didn’t miss it and we doubt you will either.
We do however miss the fact it does not come with a digital speedo which is becoming essential with so many speed cameras these days. We can’t understand why manufacturers continue to overlook the inclusion of such a minor item, given its provision must surely be a simple matter with the sophisticated electronics in cars today.
The car feels light and responsive to the throttle, with steering that is accurate.
With a relatively low centre of gravity, it sits reassuringly flat in corners.
The brakes feel good too.
Fuel consumption is in a word impressive. Rated at a miserly 5.9L/100km, we saw as low as 6.0 during our time in the car (but it managed to sneak back up to 6.2 by the time we returned it).
Either way it’s an outstanding result and one that is as good as any diesel.
At 3 years/100,000km the warranty is nothing to write home about, but the 6 month/10,000km service intervals deserve disclosure. That’s going to have you running backwards and forwards to the dealer, but at least the service costs are fixed.
The first three services will set you back $175 a piece followed by a $359 slug for the fourth. To provide a realistic three-year total we have had to include a total of five services, as the average motorist clocks up 15,000km a year.
SUZUKI S-CROSS TURBO SPECS
PRICE from $28,990 driveaway, Prestige $30,990 drive away
WARRANTY 3 years/100,000 km
CAPPED SERVICING $1059 for 3 years/50,000km
SERVICE INTERVAL 6 months/10,000km
SAFETY 5 stars; 7 airbags
ENGINE 1.4-litre 4-cyl turbo, 103kW/220Nm
TRANSMISSION 6-speed auto;
FWD THIRST 5.9L/100km
DIMENSIONS 4300mm (L), 1785mm (W), 1585mm (H), 2600mm (WB)