Few people will buy a family-friendly, value-segment crossover hatchback for its handling prowess, yet a lot of rivals come with a remarkably stiff suspension set-up, ending up with neither convincing ride comfort nor particularly engaging handling. The Suzuki S-Cross bucks that trend with surprisingly supple suspension.

Sadly, handling is nothing to write home about. Roadholding is adequate at best, and the steering can be disconcertingly light and mute. When you row the car along a bit harder, the steering does weight up, but there’s no hidden dynamic allure to be found here.

As expected with the soft suspension, there is plenty of body roll for a modern car, but that does allow the chassis to remain largely unperturbed by bumpy roads. Ultimately, it’s reasonably well damped and doesn’t get floaty, so it’s no real cause for complaint.

One of the S-Cross’s distinguishing features is its ‘Allgrip’ four-wheel drive. Suzuki is proud of the fact that it’s offering four-wheel drive in combination with both manual and automatic gearboxes. Indeed, all-wheel drive is a rarity among similarly priced cars, and is usually only available with one transmission option.

Suzuki projects that about 35% of S-Crosses will be specified with Allgrip, but it clearly won’t be a necessity for most people. But if you live in an area that sees a decent amount of snow in the winter, or if you plan light off-roading on unsealed tracks or grass, it’s good that Suzuki is offering a relatively affordable all-wheel-drive car.

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On the road, you’d be hard-pressed to feel the system working. This is still a predominantly front-driven car and doesn’t have the power to encounter traction issues on normal asphalt. There is a selector button on the centre console to switch between Sport and Automatic 4x4 modes, or to lock it in 4WD, but the difference between auto and Sport is hard to detect.

Comfort and isolation

The other effect of the compliant suspension is that the S-Cross is one of the best-riding cars you can buy at this price point. As well as soft springs, all S-Crosses come on 17in wheels. At low speed, some sharp road imperfections can be felt; but once you pick up the pace, the S-Cross glides along very serenely.

That’s true as far as ride compliance goes. The S-Cross is a value-segment family car, of course, and one of the areas where you notice this is with some intrusive road noise. It’s particularly apparent on the motorway.

It’s certainly not engine noise that’s the issue here; the S-Cross is fairly long-geared and cruises at 2300rpm at 70mph in top gear, but there is considerable road noise while it does so, and a little bit more wind noise than in more expensive competitors. This is borne out by our measurements, which show that the S-Cross is a few decibels above the Nissan Nissan Qashqai at any speed.

Assisted driving notes

Where Dacia keeps costs down by simply not offering advanced driver assistance systems, Suzuki fits all of them as standard. Dacia does have a point that particularly in a cheap, simple car, drivers are likely to be turned off by intrusive systems, but that, too, is not an issue in the Suzuki.

In fact, the lane keeping assistance doesn’t always seem to work on country roads, but we also never had it intervene unnecessarily. Meanwhile, on the motorway, the lane following is very competent at centring the car. The adaptive cruise control works reasonably well, too. And if none of these systems is to your liking, they are easily turned off using physical buttons on or to the right of the steering wheel. Although there is speed limit recognition, it is not linked to the cruise control.