From 4WD specialist Suzuki comes yet another entrant in the increasingly crowded crossover SUV market in Australia. The all-new Suzuki S-Cross is a replacement for the Suzuki SX4. While it looked like an everyday hatchback, the SX4 was reasonably competent on unsealed roads.
The new Suzuki S-Cross looks more SUV in its lines than the SX4, though certainly not to the extent of looking like a pure SUV. Oh dear, the world of crossovers is becoming ever more complex…
Chief designer of the Suzuki S-Cross, Takehito Arai, paid Suzuki Australia the honour of coming to the Australian media launch of his all-new vehicle.
Arguably the most distinctive feature is the clamshell bonnet, which gives the vehicle a solid European look. He explained that a lot of work has gone into improving aerodynamic penetration in order to reduce consumption and emissions.
Suzuki S-Cross has a shape that doesn’t really break new ground in a styling sense, but is neat and tidy in its execution and likely to remain timeless.
Just as importantly for success in this highly competitive sales arena, the importer says the shape of the S-Cross will appeal to potential buyers of many other vehicles, be they crossovers or simply midsize family hatchbacks. Spreading a wide net, Suzuki Australia says the S-Cross will compete with Toyota Corolla, Mazda3, Holden Trax, Nissan Dualis, Honda CR-V, Renault Koleos, VW Golf – and many more.
ENGINES / TRANSMISSIONS
A new 1.6-litre four-cylinder petrol engine gives the new Suzuki S-Cross a handy 86 kW of power and 156 Nm of torque. While not using the latest in high-tech engineering such as direct fuel injection it achieves official fuel consumption figures of just 5.8 litres per hundred kilometres in two-wheel-drive versions, and a still impressive 6.2 litres with all-wheel-drive.
A turbo-diesel is fitted in some markets and will be considered for Australia if there’s a call from potential buyers. A drawback on our market is that it’s currently only mated to a manual gearbox.
A five-speed manual gearbox is only used on the entry level Suzuki S-Cross GL with two-wheel-drive. Every other model in the comprehensive range has a CVT automatic. The CVT is an option on the GL, bringing it up to $25,490 compared with the attractive $22,990 of the manual car. Other models range up to $34,900 for the S-Cross GLX Prestige.
Paddle shifts on the steering wheel of the higher grade S-Cross variants give the driver a choice of seven ratios should they feel the computer hasn’t selected the best gear. To be honest we expect the typical owner wouldn’t bother trying to do it themselves.
Suzuki’s expertise in all-wheel-drive systems is a big feature of the S-Cross. It normally drives only the front wheels but all four wheels can be driven not only on unsealed surfaces, but also on normal roads for better traction when pushing hard in bends.
Active safety gear includes ABS brakes with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution, Electronic Stability Control and Traction Control. Should everything still go wrong there are seven airbags, safety belt pretensioners and force limiters.
The Suzuki S-Cross is larger than the superseded SX4 and is aimed at those who want a family wagon capable of handling the kids in their teenage years. Its back seat and boot space are considerably larger than its ancestor.
Smoothness and sophistication on the road were the first impressions when we took our Suzuki S-Cross onto the famed Great Ocean Road in Victoria. Though there’s a fair bit of tyre noise on coarse-chip surfaces, it’s pleasantly quiet on other roads. Dirt tracks were traversed with ease, even in the front-drive S-Cross model.
Steering is slightly vague in the straight ahead position bur firms up nicely one you start to corner. There’s a nicely neutral feel from the chassis and the S-Cross feels more hatch-like than SUV in its road grip and driving pleasure.
Engine performance is no more than adequate despite the valiant efforts of the CVT to keep the little 1.6-litre unit in its strongest rev range. While 157 Nm of torque is pretty good from a petrol engine of this capacity, we can’t help but feel a turbo-diesel could double this figure.
If you’re one of these smart people who are far more interested in function than fashion the all-new Suzuki S-Cross should certainly be added to the list of cars / SUVs / crossovers you are considering.
GL 2WD 1.6-litre petrol five-door wagon: $22,990 (manual), $25,490 (CVT automatic)
GLX 2WD 1.6-litre petrol five-door wagon: $29,990 (CVT automatic)
GLX AWD 1.6-litre petrol five-door wagon: $32,990 (CVT automatic)
GLX AWD 1.6-litre petrol Prestige five-door wagon: $34,990 (CVT automatic)
Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your local Suzuki dealer for driveaway prices.