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Suzuki SX4 S-Cross review (2013 onwards)
Suzuki SX4 S-Cross: summary
New Suzuki SX4 offers efficient engines and four-wheel drive – but can it really challenge the mighty Nissan Qashqai in the highly competitive family crossover market?
What:Suzuki SX4 S-Cross
Where: Rome, Italy
Price:£15,000 - £22,000 est (TBC)
Available:1 October 2013
Key rivals: Chevrolet Trax, Kia Sportage, Hyundai ix35, Peugeot 3008, Nissan Qashqai, Mitsubishi ASX, Skoda Yeti, Vauxhall Mokka
We like: willing driving experience, efficient engines, promises good value
We don’t like: generic looks, petrol lacks torque
Suzuki SX4 S-Cross: first impressions
Despite what its name might initially lead you to believe, the Suzuki SX4 S-Cross is not a replacement for the existing Suzuki SX4. The difference is obvious in the metal, since at 4.3m long, the S-Cross – as Suzuki UK is keen for it to be known – is clearly a substantially larger car.
Instead, the new SX4 S-Cross takes Suzuki into brand new territory. This is a ‘c-segment’ crossover, which means it’s a more versatile alternative to a traditional family hatchback. In other words: an all-new rival to the all-conquering Nissan Qashqai, and other multiple personality vehicles like the Skoda Yeti.
It’s also likely to draw attention from more traditional MPV – that’s Multi-Purpose Vehicles, aka, people carriers – buyers, as they become increasingly bored by the bland design and image of these functional boxes. Crossovers, with their pseudo-SUV pretensions, are far more funky machines.
At least in theory. Take away the lurid "Crystal Lime Metallic" paint, and the SX4 S-Cross isn’t exactly the most stirring visual design, in spite of Suzuki’s rhetorical protestations. The droopy snout reminds of us an anteater; the overall shape generic and, we fear, rather forgettable.
This is a shame, because on the whole, the SX4 S-Cross deserves more than a modicum of recognition. It’s a simple, straightforward line-up that offers both front- and four-wheel drive petrol and diesel choices, attractive efficiency, well-rounded practicality and, if the promised pricing works out, good value.
It could be just the thing for your multifaceted modern life. But is it?
Suzuki SX4 S-Cross: performance
Suzuki will sell the SX4 S-Cross in four trim levels – SZ3, SZ4, SZT and SZ5 – and with a choice of just two engines: a 1.6-litre petrol and a 1.6-litre turbodiesel, the latter only being offered on the two highest specifications.
The S-Cross feels remarkably planted for a crossover, and enjoyably willing
Both engines produce 120hp. The petrol comes with a five-speed manual gearbox as standard, with the option of a CVT automatic; the diesel is a six-speed manual only. We sampled both manuals.
The petrol is a pleasantly revvy thing, and sounds good with it – which is fortunate, since with just 115lb ft of torque you need to work it hard up hill and while overtaking. A situation the CVT is only likely to make worse
Although the diesel is slower on paper – the benchmark 0-62mph time is a second slower across the equivalent models – in reality the presence of 236lb ft of torque makes for much smoother, less frenetic progress.
The diesel isn’t as refined, however (we were driving pre-production cars, so this may improve), and although prices aren’t yet confirmed, the ‘walk-up’ from a similarly specified petrol is set to be around £2,000.
Suzuki SX4 S-Cross: ride and handling
The first thing that struck us about driving the S-Cross was the road noise. We experienced quite a bit of tyre roar, and the suspension is pretty vocal, thumping loudly over bumps and into potholes. Again, production-grade sound deadening may reduce this.
We mention the noise first because it’s really the only major complaint we have about the Suzuki’s driving experience. For all its grumbling, the suspension does a good job of ironing-out gnarly surfaces, and the chassis communicates its intentions very cleanly.
The top spec model delights with an enormous, twin-sliding panoramic sunroof
The steering is perhaps a touch too light for our tastes, and a little numb around the straight-ahead. But it works to help the S-Cross feel nimble, a trait that’s reflected by keen turn-in and a reassuring stability throughout the transition between direction changes.
In fact, it feels remarkably planted for an SUV-aping crossover; there is body roll, but it’s not excessive, and being well-matched to the behaviour of the rest of the car makes it easy to judge – and correct – your cornering speed. All of which makes it enjoyably willing. Nice work.
As for the optional four-wheel drive, this incudes Auto, Sport, Snow and Lock modes, the later useful for getting yourself unstuck in a muddy field. Auto is mostly front-wheel drive to save fuel, while Sport sharpens the throttle and activates the rear axle more often to enhance cornering performance.
Suzuki has plenty of 4x4 experience to draw on, so even without a proper demonstration we don’t doubt the system’s all-round capability. Fine if you think you need it, but a set of winter tyres is probably a better way to spend the money if all you’re worried about is British weather.
Suzuki SX4 S-Cross: interior
Control of the four-wheel drive falls to a small, self-explanatory rotary switch, located near the handbrake. Like the rest of the cabin, this feels durable but not of a quality that’s likely to trouble, say, Volkswagen.
The S-Cross the most efficient family crossover you can currently buy
The overall interior design is similarly pragmatic. The layout is more functional than fancy, with clearly labelled controls laid out in a sensible and easily familiarised manner. This and the solid construction makes it easy to forgive the occasional scratchy piece of plastic; the S-Cross should prove hardwearing.
Even the entry-level SZ3 gets air conditioning, cruise control, USB connector – and alloy wheels. SZ4 adds some extra bling, Bluetooth and keyless go. SXT is aimed at fleets and company car drivers, with standard sat-nav, DAB digital radio and rear parking camera.
The SZ5 delights with an enormous, twin-sliding panoramic sunroof, amongst other items; inevitably, this does take some 30mm out of the interior headroom, meaning taller passengers may find it cramped in the back. Legroom is generous for a car of this size, however, and the boot a Qashqai-beating 430 litres.
Suzuki SX4 S-Cross: economy and safety
More positive news here. High-tensile steel construction, efficient drivetrains, good aerodynamics, stop-start and a pair of carefully fettled engines make the S-Cross the most efficient c-segment crossover you can currently buy.
Diesel emissions are down to just 110g/km for the front-wheel drive version, while even the petrol 4x4 emits just 135g/km (130g/km with the CVT). As a result the S-Cross is at least one tax-band lower than any equivalent rival, while official fuel economy ranges from 47.8mpg to 67.2mpg.
There is no Euro NCAP safety result yet – the test is scheduled for the end of the year – but Suzuki is aiming for a five-star rating. There are seven airbags, stability control, speed limiter and tyre pressure monitor as standard, but none of the very latest active anti-collision measures.
Suzuki SX4 S-Cross: the MSN Cars verdict
While not over-enamoured by the ordinary looks inside and out, we find ourselves warmly drawn to the new Suzuki SX4 S-Cross.
Putting aside the panoramic roof – which is only available on the top spec anyway – it lacks an outstandingly killer feature. But as an overall package, much like the Suzuki Swift supermini, the S-Cross suggests the tantalising prospect of a very satisfying ownership experience.
It’s comfortable, versatile, efficient, good to drive and well-equipped. It’s also set to cost around 10% less than the market-leading Nissan Qashqai alternative. Though hardly in danger of setting a new class benchmark, the S-Cross is highly likeable, unpretentious and deserves the opportunity to impress you.
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