TEST DRIVE: Suzuki SX4 S-Cross

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Steve Sharpe drives Suzuki’s SX S-Cross

Suzuki’s SX4 S-Cross went on sale in October 2013, less than six months after the all-new model was unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show and manufacturer’s first Crossover, available in both two-wheel drive and all-wheel drive

Suzuki SX4 S-Cross

Suzuki SX4 S-Cross

Many of Suzuki’s rivals had already brought out crossovers, so the Japanese firm was quite late to the party.

With rivals like Nissan’s Qashqai, Kia’s Sportage, Mazda’s CX7, along with a load of other crossovers, in its sights, it’s aimed at those people who want a rugged-looking urban car with the benefits of 4x4 drive and the practicality of a family car.

What Suzuki have done is to produce a car which is cheaper to buy than many similar, economical to run and well-equipped for the money.

As far as appearances go, the S-Cross follows the same route as most of its rivals, the car fitting the general mould of a sporty crossover.

That said, despite its rather formulaic design it’s a pretty nice looking car.

It sits high on its alloys, appearing chunky with a high window line, tapering side windows and with plastic body cladding adding some rugged touches.

The front end is dominated by a large grille, with nicely styled headlights sweeping back into the flanks.

Step inside the cabin and while there’s a wow factor lacking things appear well constructed, solidly put together and of decent quality.

Everything is laid out well and it’s simple to locate things on the move.

There’s a colourful highlight where the speed counters are rimmed in an attractive blue colour, and the otherwise sombre interior is lifted by flashes of silver.

The overall general feel is that of durability.

It’s certainly a comfortable place in which to travel. The seats are large and supportive and easy to get comfortable. The high seating position means a commanding view of the road and there is plenty of glass all round to give excellent visibility.

One minor gripe is the positioning of the clutch pedal. I found that as I depressed the clutch my foot came up against part of the plastic-work before the clutch was fully pressed down.

After I’d crunched the gear change a few times under the impression that the clutch was fully down, I had to stretch slightly to get it fully engaged. I got used to it but it’s worth mentioning. Maybe I have weird feet.

There is plenty of headroom and legroom in the front but it’s not so generous in the rear in the top spec SZ5 spec version I drove, mainly because of the huge panoramic sunroof which eats into head room.

It’s only going to have any effect on taller people, though, and it’s worth a small sacrifice to have sunlight flooding in to the cabin, and it opens wide as well.

There’s plenty of room in the boot, too, which has a useful false floor which can be utilised if you don’t need the full depth of the boot.

Out on the road the S-Cross is an easy, likeable car to drive.

It’s available with either 1.6-litre petrol or 1.6-litre DDiS engines offering class leading emissions and low fuel consumption – 1.6DDiS 2WD emits just 110g/km of CO2 with 67.2mpg on the combined cycle.

The Allgrip diesel I drove proved to be an extremely competent all-rounder.

The suspension is set quite firm to counteract the tall body and so rougher surfaces and potholes can be felt but the upside is that there are high levels of control when cornering. Despite its size the S Cross handles bends comfortably.

There’s a little body lean but not much and a large amount of grip takes you around corners safely and swiftly. For a large, high-sided car it’s surprisingly agile and pretty fun to drive.

Despite unimpressive acceleration figures on paper of 13 seconds for 0-60, acceleration is steady and once revs are up the S-Cross zips along nicely.

The steering is light but accurate and there’s a four-wheel-drive system selector to suit which situation you’re in – Sport quicken things up and improves performance on twisty roads, plus there’s a mud option, a slippery roads mode and a snow option, as well as an auto mode for best fuel consumption, which uses 2WD unless the wheels start to spin.

The options all work well and by selecting Sport you can really enjoy a swift ride the Suzuki.

The gearbox is well spaced but a bit notchy but all in all the S-Cross is an excellent all-round performer, particularly on long motorway runs.

While the diesel engine can be a little noisy at higher revs, there’s very little wind noise coming through and decent levels of road noise, contributing to a smooth, comfort table ride.

The S-Cross is cheaper than many of its big-name rivals and there are also saving to be made on running costs too.

Take the Suzuki on a long run and you can expect more than 70mpg. In everyday driving situations the official figures are nearly 65mpg, and the low emissions mean road tax is low, too – 12 months costs just £30.

The S-Cross range starts at just under £15,000 for the entry level SZ3 version, rising to more than £23,000 for the range-topping SZ5 Allgrip version I drove, but the company has made sure all versions are well equipped.

SZ3 models are equipped as standard with seven airbags, ESP and Tyre Pressure Monitoring as well as Daytime Running Lights, 16-inch alloy wheels, cruise control with speed limiter, air conditioning, heated door mirrors, black protective skid plates and black wheel arch extensions.

SZ4 adds 17-inch alloy wheels finished in dark grey, Dual Zone automatic air conditioning, front fog lamps, Bluetooth connectivity, rear privacy glass, silver roof rails and silver skid plates.

The fleet-friendly SZ-T version adds satnav with DAB digital radio, polished 17-inch alloy wheels, rear parking camera and rear parking proximity sensors.

Equipment for the top of the range SZ5 model includes front parking sensors, leather seat upholstery, double sliding panoramic sunroof and HID projector 

Suzuki’s likeable S-Cross is well worth considering if you’re looking for a family car with the benefits of four-wheel drive, but with impressive economy levels and a competitive list price.

Nissan’s Qashqai still rules the roost as far as crossovers are concerned but there are many pretenders to the throne, or at least a piece of the action, and the S-Cross is high up on the list of 

Fact file

Suzuki SX4 S-Cross

Engine: 1.6litre diesel

Transmission: Six-speed manual.

0-62: 13seconds.

Top Speed: 108mph.

Economy: Avg 64.2mpg

Price: £23,549