What is it?
The new Suzuki S-Cross, just landed on British roads. Technically it’s an SX4 S-Cross, but even Suzuki admits that the prefix is a bit of a red herring. Because this new car is going head-to-head with crossovers in the class above: the Peugeot 3008, Nissan Qashqai and Kia Sportage.
Nobody does ‘cheap and cheerful’ quite as consummately as this Japanese outfit. So often, cars at the budget end of the price spectrum seem worthy and one-dimensional dynamically: amid the cost-cutting, the driving experience gets either forgotten or banished to the bottom of the priorities list.
Never in Suzuki’s case, however. And not in the SX4 S-Cross’s, either.
What is it like?
Our first UK taster came in a range-topping four-wheel-drive diesel which, at £23.5k, might seem like something of a deserter to Suzuki’s value-first philosophy. In fact, it sits at the head of a range that undercuts equivalent Qashqai prices by almost £2000.
This particular model is the first car that Suzuki has ever offered with a DAB radio, sat-nav, a reversing camera and a cruise control as standard equipment.
The S-Cross is quite low-rise by crossover standards, but has a raised and convenient driving position and a big split-level boot. It isn’t the most muscular or aggressive-looking pseudo-4x4, but the styling’s neat and inoffensive: probably spot on for the brand’s retiring demographic.
Inside, the car’s fairly roomy, but not huge. In equipment-rich SZ5 trim, the panoramic sunroof does eat into second-row headroom quite a bit; so much so that you wouldn’t want to put taller adults back there.
With a normal roof, passenger space is competitive – but lags behind what’s available in a 3008 or even a Skoda Yeti. Cabin quality is a bit ordinary, with only a few ritzy soft-touch finishes, but it’s all functional, hard-wearing stuff. It’s unadorned, sure – but for the price, it’s more than acceptable.
And broadly in line with what we found on the European test drive, the Suzuki handles well: cleanly, with admirable precision and even a little zest. The power steering’s quite direct and feels substantial, and spring rates are slightly higher than the crossover norm, for a nicely clipped B-road ride.
An occasional bit of thumping harshness in the ride at low speed comes as the trade off, and between that, some wind noise and the slight gruffness of the diesel engine, you certainly wouldn’t call the S-Cross particularly refined. But it’s nicely damped, and handles better than it needs to for the money.
Performance from the 1.6-litre Fiat-sourced diesel engine is good, and economy likewise. We saw better than 50mpg from the trip computer, on a cross-country route and with the four-wheel drive system engaged for a good chunk of it.
Experience suggests that’s a good deal better than an equivalent 3008 or Vauxhall Mokka will serve up – and the official CO2 claims seem to confirm as much.
Should I buy one?
It’s worth a test drive. The Suzuki SX4 S-Cross is a likable device that makes up with some charm, poise, efficiency and value what it gives up to some on interior decoration and passenger space.
It’s not the most civilised crossover on the block, nor is it the most stylish or desirable – but across the range as a whole, it is good value.
And if you’d rather sacrifice on those areas than on handling, performance, equipment or 4x4 usability, it could be just the functional all-season family car for your driveway.
Suzuki SX4 S-Cross 1.6 DDiS Allgrip SZ5
Price £23,549; 0-62mph 13.0sec; Top speed 108mph; Economy 64.2mpg; CO2 114g/km; Kerbweight 1305kg; Engine 4cyls, 1598cc, turbodiesel; Power 118bhp at 3750rpm; Torque 236lb ft at 1750rpm; Gearbox 6-spd manual