is one of these manufacturers that likes to do things a bit differently. They have long had a strong foothold in the small 4x4 market and success with niche models in the small car market.
By bringing together these two particular strengths Suzuki are building their representation in the crossover market, where conventional hatchback meets SUV. Which brings me neatly to my road test of the Suzuki SX4 S-Cross.
Following the pattern well established by other manufacturers the Suzuki SX4 S-Cross recognises that, while many people are attracted to the SUV style, some have no need for the go-anywhere ability of four wheel drive. The S-cross is therefore available in two or four-wheel-drive.
My test car was the Suzuki SX4 S-Cross All-Grip and, as the latter part of the name suggests, this is the four-wheel-drive version.
Having tested the Suzuki SX4
on this blog before, the main surprise was how different S-Cross is from the SX4. For a start it is considerably bigger, about the same length as class leaders like the Nissan Qashqai. At 4.3 metres length it is only a little short of the Suzuki Grand Vitara
in its five-door form. So, given the difference in style, it is a little puzzling why Suzuki felt the need to relate it to the smaller SX4 by incorporating its name into the S-Cross.
There are 15 versions of the Suzuki SX4 S-Cross sold in the UK with prices starting £14,970. They may wear a Japanese badge but they are actually remarkably European.
The SX4 S-Cross is manufactured in Hungary andthe diesels come with a Fiat-sourced 1.6-litre diesel. The S-Cross is also available with a petrol engine which not only has the same capacity as the diesel, but also the same 120 bhp power output.
My test car was the notably well-equipped Suzuki SX4 S-Cross All-grip SZ5 which costs £23,020. It comes as standard with tyre pressure monitoring, daytime running lights, cruise control and speed limiter, dual zone air conditioning, roof rails, DAB radio, sat nav, rear parking camera, front and rear parking sensors, leather heated seats, alloy wheels and HID projector headlamps with auto function. The standard sunroof is claimed as a world first with not one, but two sliding panels.
As a fan of letting the daylight into the cars I drive, I appreciated that sunroof as it made for a light and airy interior. But would add one caveat – if you have tall rear seat passengers check it out as I suspect the fancy roof comes at the cost of some rear headroom. Otherwise the rear seat space is how you would expect for a car in this class. I fitted behind the driving seat at its furthest back position – a neat fit for my knees, but I did fit!
With good interior space and stowage, the load space, too, is pretty good for a car in this class at 430 litres with the rear seats up or 875 with them folded. The boot floor can be set right above the space saver spare wheel, or in a slot above, which leaves you with a neat hidden storage area below.
I’m glad it was the All-Grip that I had to test, because the four-wheel-drive system is particularly impressive. You can set it for “auto”, “snow” or “sport”. In “auto” mode the car optimises the car for best fuel economy and supplies the power to the wheels accordingly. “Snow” optimises the drive for, yes you’ve guessed it, the white stuff.
“Sport” mode sharpens things up for a more sporty performance and also delivers 20% more torque to the rear wheels, to give the car a bit more of a sporty rear-drive balance.
If you have already looked at the bottom of this review for the 0-62 time, you may question the use of the word “sport” for a car that takes 13 seconds for that sprint. Well, turbo diesels are seldom the quickest from a standing start and the Suzuki SX4 S-cross DDiS really does feel quicker than the figures suggest. I count myself as a performance-orientated driver and I was pretty happy.
The S-Cross also steals a march on many other four-wheel-drive crossovers by having a “lock” setting which will help get you out should you get stuck in mud, snow, or sand.
Four wheel drive tends to lose out on the economy stakes, but not this one. I found it easy to average over 50 mpg out of town and the combined fuel economy figure is 64.2 mpg. Sometimes the extra weight and mechanical drag of four-wheel-drive systems can make them significantly less economical. But, to Suzuki’s credit the S-Cross All-Grip is just 3.1 mpg thirstier than the two-wheel-drive S-cross.
The different modes are easily selected using a simple rotary dial on the centre console, making it simple to choose the mode to suit the conditions and your current driving mood.
The 1.6 diesel engine in the test car impressed. Not only is it economical, it is also very quiet. Reading the detail I find this is thanks to a sound insulation cowl and a sound-insulating windscreen. Sometimes rowdy diesels, even when silenced, manage to make their presence known by giving drivers a vibro-massage through the pedals, or the gear lever. Not the S-Cross. “No vibration” is the verdict written in my notebook.
Ride quality generally adds to the feeling of refinement although, just occasionally, the suspension can surprise with a thump or crash when a particular bump or pothole catches it out.
The more I drove the Suzuki SX4 S-Cross the more I liked it. Here is a real alternative to the regular crossovers that you tend to see in such large numbers. It is comfortable, nicely finished inside and out, well equipped, economical and drives well. With its easy-to-use four-wheel-drive system, you can tune it to your desired driving style and the prevailing under-wheel conditions.
The Suzuki SX4 S-Cross deserves to do well in the UK market. It just needs more people to get to know it. Suzuki SX4 S-Cross All-Grip SZ5 1.6 DDiS
Engine size 1598cc diesel
Power 120 bhp
Combined fuel economy 64.2 mpg
Carbon dioxide emissions: 114 g/km
Top speed: 105 mph
0-62: 13 secs
Boot capacity 430/875 litres (back seats up/folded)