The revised version is smarter and better connected, plus it includes a couple of much more efficient Boosterjet petrol powerplants. In short, it’s worth a second look.
If, like us, you’re a little tired of Crossover models of this kind being promoted as being ‘sporty’, then you might find this SX4 S-Cross to be refreshing in its sensible, family-orientated approach to vehicle dynamics. This works well with the engines on offer, headlined by a couple of efficient ‘Boosterjet’ petrol units, both of which come in manual or automatic guises. There’s a 111PS 1. 0-litre three cylinder powerplant or the 140PS 1. 4-litre four cylinder variant we’re trying here. Alternatively, if you want a diesel, the 120PS 1. 6-litre DDiS diesel has been carried over from the original version of this car. This comes only in manual form and offers a useful 320Nm of torque, so can tow up to 1. 5-tonnes, yet it can still manage 68. 9mpg in the combined cycle and 106g/km of CO2.
Handling is tailored towards providing a relatively soft ride but body control is good. As an option, ALLGRIP 4WD is available with all three engines. This is the same ‘on-demand’ set-up the S-Cross has always used, a set-up it shares with its Crossover stablemates. This uses an electronically-controlled clutch pack that distributes drive between front and rear under orders from a four-position switch beside the handbrake. As with most such systems, this one will leave you in front wheel drive most of the time, unless a lack of traction is detected, in which case the rear wheels will be dialled in.
Suzuki feel that quite a few decisions in the Crossover segment come down to aesthetics – and they’re probably right. The original version of this car was smart but quite forgettable – which was a problem in a class full of trendily-styled rivals. Hence the changes made to the revised version, enhancements that certainly give the car a little more pavement presence.
Of course, as usual, what’s more important is the stuff you can’t see, namely this model’s light, stiff platform, designed around what Suzuki calls ‘Total Effective Control Technology’. This uses lots of high strength steel to make the structure very strong but also low in weight, which is the main reason why the S-Cross is so relatively light by class standards.
You feel that light weight when you slam the driver’s door shut, which isn’t ideal, but otherwise, by affordable compact Crossover standards, the cabin feels quite nice, providing you’re not expecting acres of slush-moulded soft-touch plastic, Suzuki doesn’t really go in for that kind of finishing. We approve of the brand’s decision to instead spend the development budget on the 7-inch colour infotainment touchscreen, standard above entry-level trim and the kind of thing that some other rivals restrict to their priciest derivatives.
Let’s take a seat in the back. Here, as usual in the Qashqai class, two adults will be fine - and three won’t be too uncomfortable at a squash – provided they’re not too tall.
Time to take a look at the boot. It’s about 20% bigger than the trunk you’d get in smaller supermini-based Crossovers – Mokkas, EcoSports, Jukes and so on – the 430-litre total being about the same as is provided by a Nissan Qashqai. And you can make good use of the space available thanks to a neat false floor that lifts to reveal hidden storage.
Here’s the affordable family-sized Crossover you probably forgot to add to your shopping list, a car well equipped to handle the grim realities of modern family life, with its congested school runs, child-centred messiness and weekend visits to relatives. If you don’t have a ‘lifestyle’ family but would rather like a ‘lifestyle’ car of this kind, then by all means try an S-Cross. We think you’d probably like it.