CAR REVIEW: Suzuki SX4 S-Cross
Another week, another crossover – or at least that’s the way it feels right now. My diary, since before Christmas, has been packed with everything from four-wheel drive super-minis such as Suzuki’s Swift, to good old-fashioned full-blown go-anywhere mud-pluggers such as Jeep’s Grand Cherokee. As the weather gets ever nastier, I subconsciously, like car buyers country-wide, seem to have turned my attention towards more rugged means of transport.
And it’s not just me. Car makers the world over have cottoned on to the fact that crossovers – they’re the more car-like SUV’s we once tagged Soft-Roaders – are selling like the proverbial. Nissan’s Qashqai, now in mark two form and launched early this year (ironically at an event I was regrettably unable to attend), is now Britain’s sixth best selling car, and in just four-years Skoda have sold over 280,000 of their anything but abominable Yeti.
It’s no wonder then that Suzuki, Japanese maker of small cars and small four-wheel drive cars – not to mention more than just the odd motor-cycle and an out-board motor or three – are eager to get in on the action. Their new SX4 S-Cross has been built to take on the likes of the Yeti, the Qashqai and Fiat’s 500L Trekking head-on. And, like the aforementioned crossover offerings, the S-Cross can be had in either front-wheel drive or optional four-wheel drive flavours too.
Trust yours truly to end up testing what’s probably the pick of the S-Cross crop: The rather snappily entitled SX4 S-Cross 1.6DDiS Allgrip SZ5, complete with leather trim, DAB, Bluetooth, keyless entry, Start-Stop, auto lights and wipers, reversing camera, double sun-roof – a world first apparently- and rather toasty (and all the more welcome for it) heated seats; but still, needs must. As its names suggests the 1.6 DDiS Allgrip is powered by 1.6 litre diesel coupled to automatically engaging, and lockable four-wheel drive, and comes complete with a switchable Sport Mode that sharpens up the throttle response, upping the S-Cross’s sense of urgency, without affecting its dampers settings and thus its taut, but never too uncompromising, ride.
All S-Cross variants get a 1.6 litre four cylinder motor in fact, but it’s the FIAT sourced diesel that’s probably the one to go for. Whilst its 120bhp may not exactly sound like the last word in performance, the 236lb ft of torque it produces at just 1750rpm means that whichever of S-Cross’s six gears you find yourself in there’s plenty of pull. Whether you’ll ever attain Suzuki’s claimed 64.2mpg though is another matter – all official fuel consumption figures are attained in the laboratory rather than in the real world remember – but a lowly 114g/km of CO2 means an oil-sipping S-Cross’s £30 road tax hardly breaks the bank.
So then, if the S-Cross’s engine and chassis have the Sport part of SUV well and truly covered and V stands for Vehicle, where’s the Utility? Despite the extra traction and aluminium sill protectors it’s perhaps stretching the imagination a little too far to say Suzuki’s latest is a genuine mud-up-to-the headlights type of off-roader.
As well equipped, spacious, ergonomically laid out, and well screwed-together as the S-Cross’s interior may be there’s no escaping the fact that it appears, on first impressions at least, to have been built more for work rather than all-out luxury. Leather trim, blue-ringed dials and a smattering of bright-work do try their best to lift a cabin that is already beginning to feel a little dated, but ultimately the S-Cross’s mixture of hard plastics, after-market looking sat-nav, and minor switches that operate with a hollow sounding clack rather than solid feeling damped clunk mean, that compared to it’s competition, the inside of the S-Cross can leave you feeling slightly cold. Nevertheless it does remain comfy, even after long stretches behind the S-Cross’s leather trimmed wheel.
So then, if your intention is to use your crossover for its intended purpose rather than just cruise around, because of its rugged looks, the Suzuki S-Cross fits the not-quite-as-expensive-as-you-might-have-expected bill very nicely indeed. It’s discreetly styled, surprisingly frugal, pleasing to drive, and practical – the boot’s the biggest in this class.
It’s fair to say the Suzuki SX4 S-Cross has all the important boxes well and truly ticked and it deserves your attention; don’t dismiss it as just another SUV.
Suzuki SX4 S-Cross 1.6DDiS Allgrip SZ5
Engine: 1598cc, 4Cyl, 16V Turbo-diesel.
Transmission: 6 speed. With Allgrip 4 mode 4WD
Power: 120 bhp @ 3750rpm
Torque: 236 lbft @1750 rpm
0-62mph: 13.0 sec
Max Speed: 108 mph
MPG: 64.2 combined.
VED Band: C
Price: from £23,549