Smaller manufacturers bring some welcome variety to the automotive landscape.
Unable to compete with the big players, they find their niches and fill them, often in creative ways. Think of the quirky Daihatsu Copen, Subaru’s rally homologation boom of the 1990s, Morgan persisting with ash wood frames, or Mazda’s compression ignition petrol engine. Even if they are not objectively the best solution, they’re often something to grab your attention.
However, as evidenced by two of those examples being from more than 10 years ago, that sort of independence is getting harder and harder to maintain while also complying with emissions and safety regulations, catering for the connectivity demands of modern drivers and simply competing in the modern global car market.
Daihatsu may be gone from Europe, but Suzuki is still clinging on. But other than with the Suzuki Jimny (which is practically in a class of one as a go-anywhere off-roader in miniature) and the likable Suzuki Ignis, none of the firm's models are anywhere near the top of our class rankings. When even the marketing people say that Suzuki is not trying to be the best – instead, its unique selling point is the personal service from its dealers and the trust that fosters in customers – it’s clear things are difficult.
So it’s a happy occasion when it announces an all-new generation of one of its cars.
In this instance, it’s the S-Cross, the brand’s compact crossover hatchback that slots just below the Nissan Qashqai and Hyundai Tucson, but at a much lower price. The outgoing model – née SX4 S-Cross – had been around since 2013 with a fairly comprehensive facelift in 2016, so a new generation was certainly due.