by Huw Thomas
Suzuki did well here in 2016 with sales of 38,190 almost doubling its annual volume of five years ago. More than 11,500 Vitaras were sold 18 per cent of which were ‘S’ models with the new 1.4 BOOSTERJET petrol engine and 6-speed manual gearbox. The 2013 SX4 S-Cross was Suzuki’s first SuV-like crossover as opposed to its more orthodox SuVs previously. A new Vitara, in the same mould, arrived in 2015. The slightly larger S-Cross competes in the hotly-contested lower-medium sector where it’s up against SEAT’s new Ateca, Nissan Qashqai/Renault kadjar and the like. The Vitara has been very well received whereas S-Cross has been in its shadow somewhat. So, when it came to a mid-life facelift last Autumn Suzuki gave it a more assertive front-end and some extra ground clearance to amplify its SuV credentials. This was more than a mere cosmetic make-over, new BOOSTERJET petrol engines (1.0-litre 3-cylinder from the Swift/Baleno) and 1.4-litre 4-cylinder 6- speed manual (from the Vitara) became available. The 1.6 DDiS Diesel stays in the new line-up. Suzuki’s ALLGRiP 4×4 system is available with all three engines but only on Sz-T and Sz5 models (cheapest Sz4 is front-wheel drive only: £14,999). The 1.0-litre 5-speed manual produces 111ps which is slightly less than the outgoing 1.6 petrol unit but generates more torque (112mph; 0-62mph 11-secs): £21,299 (Sz-T). High-Ratio only (as ever now), Suzuki’s 4×4 system in Auto (default) Mode is FWD but said to be proactive in sensing when to kick in. ‘Sport’ readies it further for press-on driving and there is both a ‘Snow’ and ‘Lock’ setting for more difficult conditions. A 6-speed auto-box is an extra cost option on the 1.0 Sz-T (FWD) and 1.4 Sz5 4×4: £1,350. Manual 6-speed 1.6 DDiS Sz5 ALLGRiP is top of the range: £24,349. Model of choice however is the 1.4 BOOSTERJET Sz5, 6-speed manual with 4×4: £22,849. ideally, it would have been Sz-T. Equipment on that model includes SatNav, 17” (rather than 16”) alloy wheels, Auto AirCon, front and rear audio park assist with a rear-mounted camera, etc. The Sz5 package runs to automatic emergency braking, glass roof, heated front seats and so on. However SuV buyers are readier than most to push the boat out so marketing has decreed no Sz- T – it has to be an Sz5. Dynamically the S-Cross is well up to the job: cornering, body control and steering (rather uncommunicative but accurate enough) makes for sure-footed progress. Ride quality is (mostly) good across the spectrum – damping has received some attention. SEAT and Nissan-Renault competition means the S-Cross has its work cut out – Skoda too will launch a replacement Yeti (probably) next year. The S-Cross might not have the verve of the Vitara S but inheriting its 1.4 BOOSTERJET 140ps powertrain has transformed an already capable vehicle… and it now looks the part.
Facts & Figures: 124mph; 0-62mph 10.2-secs; 50.4mpg (official combined); 39/40mpg (brim to brim) on test; CO2 127g/km; Road Tax £140 (1st Year £160); Insurance Group 24.