From £15,4707
The new SX4 S-Cross is bigger than the old SX4, but is it any better?

Our Verdict

Suzuki SX4 S-Cross

Second-generation soft-roader enters the family crossover fray

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 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 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 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. 

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 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 

Join the debate

Comments
7

12 June 2013

Is it still using the PSA/Ford 1.6 diesel?

12 June 2013

Its a moified versions of the current 1.6 petrol (suzuki) and 1.6 diesel (fiat).

All with big reductions in fuel use and co2 

 

whiteliner

12 June 2013

The original SX4 was styled by Guigaro / Italdesign, hence its handsome devil good looks. Also sold as some FIAT variant.

www.KOOOLcr.com

 

12 June 2013

I quite like Suzukis, but they all suffer from the whiff of cheap plastic.

Take the Swift mentioned, it has an eager chassis, is good value, and locally superb dealer after service (my son had one from new), but somehow there must be a way of upping the quality at minimal expense, and increasing the desirability.

Thinking of value on the Sx4 Tracks appear to have a preReg old shape model at less than £11,000.  Good value.

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.

 

13 June 2013

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.

14 June 2013

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

Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • Volkswagen Golf MHEV
    First Drive
    23 November 2017
    VW's 48V mild hybrid technology is still a few years away from production, but we’ve sampled a prototype Golf fitted with it and are suitably impressed
  • Jeep Compass
    First Drive
    23 November 2017
    Jeep enters the competitive compact SUV market with its new Compass, blending ruggedness with contemporary styling and tech
  • BMW 1 Series Saloon
    We had a short drive in a China-only front-wheel-drive BMW 1 Series
    First Drive
    23 November 2017
    A brief drive in a China-only front-wheel-drive model shows the future is bright for the 1 Series when it makes the switch from RWD next year
  • BMW 5 Series
    First Drive
    23 November 2017
    The BMW 5 Series is top of the mid-exec pack, but is there still room for a diesel saloon in everyday family life?
  • Toyota Prius PHEV
    First Drive
    23 November 2017
    Does running a plug-in hybrid really make sense as a 500-mile-a-week driver? Six months with a Toyota Prius Plug-in should give a conclusive answer