The new SX4 S-Cross is bigger than the old SX4, but is it any better?

What is it?

A new Suzuki SX4 that's nothing like the old one. Not just in the usual claims of improved performance and reduced CO2 from new engines, better dynamics from a new chassis, and improved quality and equipment levels for the interior, but in the class it sits in.

For this new SX4 is a much bigger car than the one it replaces, shifting up a class in size to become a Nissan Qashqai fighter, and gaining a new S-Cross suffix to its name in the process following inspiration from a concept car of the same name.

Indeed, Suzuki doesn't really want you to think of it as an SX4 at all so has put that part of its name in lowercase and made the badge on the boot tiny. You can still buy the current SX4 until around this time next year, before a new small SUV replaces it in 2015. Expect the sx4 part of the S-Cross's name to disappear around the same time once it's established itself.

Back to the new car, buyers can choose from 1.6-litre petrol and diesel engines, manual and automatic transmission and front- and all-wheel drive. Standard equipment levels are good - 16in alloys, air-con and cruise control are all in the standard armoury, although it's a top-spec test car tested here that comes fully loaded with such goodies as the world's first double-opening panoramic roof. 

The really good news should come from the fact that the engineering team for the S-Cross boasts the Suzuki Swift among its back catalogue, one of the best-driving superminis out there. And some development even took place on UK roads.

What's it like?

Quite decent, the kind of solid-enough car that doesn't excel in any single department but neither does it let itself substantially down anywhere, either.

On first acquaintance, it's a much sharper looker than the current SX4; the nose is a bit low, but it's smart enough. Suzuki has fairly obviously looked to the Qashqai for its side profile and overall proportions. Which is no bad thing when you look at the UK new car sales charts.

The best-seller in the UK is tipped to be the 1.6-litre turbodiesel with a six-speed manual gearbox sending drive through the front wheels only, and it's the model we've tested here. It's a solid engine, not the briskest but neither does it sound like it's ever being worked too hard.

The torque band is quite narrow and it's not particularly tractable as a result; you'll be reaching for the gear lever to change down if the engine speed drops below 2000rpm and for it to change up only 1500rpm or so later. Still, it's a nice slick shift.

That slick feeling continues throughout much of rest of the car's controls. The steering is nicely weighted for its intended purpose as well, and has that nice habit of pointing where you want it; too often in this class the steering is too light.

The body control is better than a Nissan Qashqai's, as is the handling. Predictably, there is some body roll, but it's well controlled and the S-Cross never has you lurching all over the road no matter how hard you push it. It's here where a bit of the Suzuki Swift magic begins to shine through, although the smile it raises never develops into a big grin.

That's because there are a few niggles with the ride quality. It just doesn't feel supple enough at low- or medium-speeds. It doesn't crash around, but you feel far too much of the road than you should in a car you know has been set-up by a team that made the Swift one of the most supple superminis around. The softly-set-up Qashqai beats it in this department as the damping on the S-Cross is just too harsh. 

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These ride problems don't tend to manifest themselves on the motorway, however. Here, the S-Cross feels smoother and more refined, if a touch noisier than we'd like. 

If you've spent any time in a Suzuki Swift, much of the S-Cross's interior will be familiar to you. The design is pleasant enough, although the quality of the materials could be better. Ergonomically, it's sound; the controls are intuitive and you're not baffled by the sheer amount of buttons and switches. 

Forward visibility is good, rear less so due to the design of the C-pillars and sloping roofline. The driving position is high and commanding in the spacious front cabin. Rear headroom is compromised by the fancy sunroof, and we weren't able to test one without it.

The boot is big, with a wide opening and a good usable space for plenty of big bags and a dual-level floor allows you to squeeze in a few extra boxes of Cornflakes for a camping trip.

Should I buy one?

We'd certainly consider it. Suzuki calls it the crossover that's "perfect for families, without being just a family car". We get what the Japanese firm means; it's got everything you'd expect of a car in this class, with a dynamic ability you might not expect.

It's just a shame that that "without being just a family car" part of the sales pitch falls a bit short by the iffy ride and tractability of the engine.

Still, this doesn't undermine the S-Cross's excellent value next to the Qashqai. Prices are yet to be confirmed, but it's set to come in considerably cheaper starting at around £15,000 for a well equipped base car, with it possible to secure a model with every bell and whistle attached for a price in the early £20,000s.

Put simply, the Suzuki SX4 S-Cross is a good honest car from a good honest car maker, and if that appeals to you, then there's no part of it that should be a deal-breaker. 

Suzuki SX4 S-Cross SZ5 1.6D 2WD

Price £22,000 (est); 0-62mph 12.0sec; Top speed 111mph; Economy 67.2mpg; CO2 110g/km; Kerb weight 1240kg; Engine 4 cyls, 1598cc, turbodiesel; Power 108bhp at 3750rpm; Torque 236lb ft at 1750rpm; Gearbox 6spd manual 

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Mark Tisshaw

Title: Editor

Mark is a journalist with more than a decade of top-level experience in the automotive industry. He first joined Autocar in 2009, having previously worked in local newspapers. He has held several roles at Autocar, including news editor, deputy editor, digital editor and his current position of editor, one he has held since 2017.

From this position he oversees all of Autocar’s content across the print magazine, autocar.co.uk website, social media, video, and podcast channels, as well as our recent launch, Autocar Business. Mark regularly interviews the very top global executives in the automotive industry, telling their stories and holding them to account, meeting them at shows and events around the world.

Mark is a Car of the Year juror, a prestigious annual award that Autocar is one of the main sponsors of. He has made media appearances on the likes of the BBC, and contributed to titles including What Car?Move Electric and Pistonheads, and has written a column for The Sun.

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Suzuki QT 14 June 2013

Hmmm ...

Confused ...

If the S-Cross is NOT the replacement for the SX4 (which will still be sold until its replacement comes on line), then why the confusing badging??

Still, it's a handsome beast and I'd trade in my Ignis for it Smile

fadyady 13 June 2013

Price is the key

Either the picture is good or the light is just right the dash looks very good. At the right price this car could fetch some sales for Suzuki.

Jimbbobw1977 12 June 2013


Did a quick search the old one did use the HDI/Tdci 1.6.

The old SX4 did use the Fiat 1.9 m-jet for a while.