The Suzuki SX4 hardly set the automotive world on fire when it was launched in the mid 1990s and was all but swamped by enthusiasm for the then new Swift. Now the SX4 has sort of morphed into the S-Cross, a crossover with all-wheel drive capability.
The new vehicle, despite carrying the ‘SX4’ prefix, according to Suzuki, bears no resemblance to its small-car all-wheel-drive predecessor.
The result is a European-style body shaped for optimum aerodynamics. And there’s enough room for a golf bag set sideways in the rear luggage area with all five seats occupied. Job done.
The 1.6-litre Suzuki is offered in three specification levels – S-Cross GL, GLX and Prestige and comes to market from $22,990, making it the lowest priced ‘1.6-litre and above’ version in the small SUV market segment.
S-Cross GL relies on front-wheel drive with a five-speed manual or continuously variable transmission, the GLX comes with two-wheel or all-wheel drive with CVT transmission, while the topline Prestige comes with the lot, a CVT and all-wheel drive.
In its characteristically unusual way, the Queensland arm of the Suzuki Auto Co gave out examples of the S-Cross to the media for the week leading up to the official launch. I scored a GLX 2WD with CVT transmission which tips the scales at $30,000.
The S-Cross is powered by a 1.6-litre four-cylinder petrol engine putting out a modest 86 kW of power at 6000 rpm and 156 Nm of torque at 4400 revs. The test GLX was fitted with a continuously variable transmission with the seven ratios in the manual mode operated by steering wheel-mounted paddles.
The latter took advantage of suggested gearshift points flashed up on the instrument panel directly in front of the driver. In line with the vehicle’s frugal fuel philosophy these erred on the side of economy rather than performance.
Suzuki claims combined urban / highway fuel economy of 5.8 litres per hundred kilometres. The 137 grams per kilometre carbon dioxide emissions is amongst the lowest in the segment.
The driver is greeted by keyless entry and push-button engine start. The CVT gearshift is nicely at hand on the centre console, while the multifunction leather-wrapped steering wheel puts cruise control and audio controls at the fingertips.
The GLX is well specced above the generously equipped GL model, with the addition of rain-sensing wipers, dual zone climate control, seven-speaker sound system, 6.1-inch multimedia touch-screen with satellite navigation, Bluetooth, USB integration, reversing camera and rear parking sensors.
On top of that, those picking the Prestige variant can take advantage of what Suzuki tells us is the world’s first double sliding panoramic glass sunroof with one of the largest opening areas in the category – not a huge selling point in this neck of the woods (the sub-tropics) in summer, with occupants craving the comfort of cool surroundings.
Apart from the elements, double sealing on the doors also keeps dust and decibels at bay from the cabin interior throughout the range, which helps with instructions to the voice command system for audio, or phone being interpreted.
The S-Cross rides on the experience engineers garnered from the Suzuki Swift development – it’s top quality. As for safety, the cabin is swathed in airbags – seven to be precise – driver’s knee airbag which has helped the S-Cross earn the top five-star ANCAP safety rating.
Active safety is taken care of by electronic stability control, anti-lock braking with electronic brake force distribution and brake assist.
Passive safety is looked after by Suzuki’s occupant safety cell incorporating high tensile material and energy absorbing design.
Belongings in the back are kept safe by a solid luggage cover which acts as a shelf that can be raised or lowered to provide flexible and secure cargo space – 430 litres with the rear seat-backs vertical, 875 litres with the backs folded.
Built in Hungary, the Suzuki S-Cross is covered by Suzuki’s capped price servicing.
The complete Suzuki S-Cross range is:
S-Cross GL 2WD: $22,990 (manual), $25,490 (automatic)
S-Cross GLX 2WD: $29,990 (automatic)
S-Cross GLX AWD: $32,990 (automatic)
S-Cross Prestige AWD: $34,990 (automatic)
Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your local Suzuki dealer for driveaway prices.