What is it?
First launched in 2013, the S-Cross was Suzuki’s answer to the ever dominant Nissan Qashqai. On paper, it had all the right ingredients to be a success: impressive ergonomics, plenty of standard kit and a decent chassis. However, the company’s clever crossover never sold in high numbers, despite the fact that the market for such vehicles grew rapidly over the next three years.
So why was it not successful? Well, according to Suzuki, a great deal came down to aesthetics. Put simply, it didn’t look like an SUV - a conclusion that clearly influenced the decision to give the S-Cross a "major" mid-life facelift.
Instead of simply giving the S-Cross a little nip here and a tuck there, the design team went back to the drawing board and have treated the car to a whole new front end. A clamshell bonnet, steep nose, aggressive air intake and new design headlamps help endow the Suzuki with a somewhat predictable compact pseudo-SUV look. Ground clearance is also slightly higher (raised by 15mm) to give an air of off-road capability.
However, an aesthetic update is not necessarily enough to keep a three-year-old design competitive in an increasingly saturated crossover sector. As a result, Suzuki has joined the downsizing bandwagon, ditching its naturally aspirated petrol 1.6 for two smaller capacity Boosterjet engines – namely the turbocharged 1.0-litre and 1.4-litre motors seen previously in the Baleno and Vitara S.
We’ve already experienced Suzuki’s 1.0-litre unit in the lightweight Baleno and, in that application, we were impressed with its refinement, frugality and flexibility. However, the prospect of putting the same three-cylinder motor in a car that weighs 210kg more is something else entirely.
Thankfully, this wasn’t lost on the development team, who benchmarked the turbocharged unit against the old naturally aspirated 1.6 engine. The results on paper are mixed: power is down at the top end by 7bhp but torque is up by 9%.