Grippy S-Cross

Road test: Suzuki SX4 S-Cross 1.6 DDiS ALLGRIP SZ5

Suzuki has built good small cars and capable, budget 4x4s but has struggled to breach the world of mid-size vehicles here in the UK. The all new SX4 S-Cross is Suzuki’s latest cross-over and we’ve been putting an ALLGRIP four-wheel-drive version through its paces this week to see how it fairs.

When setting one’s eyes on a vehicle for the first time, we look for distinguishing features and interesting styling. The S-Cross looks fairly generic all over; it is neat but there isn’t anything particularly memorable about the front, back or sides. In fact, the nose isn’t styled as crisply as the Swift or Kizashi which is a shame. It is smart-enough, though; look carefully and you will be able to follow the swage line from the rear hip, along the car and down, neatly through the front lights. Although the SX4 S-Cross is quite tall, the deep black sills with aluminium-style finishers succeed in making the car look more slender than it really is.

Inside, the theme is continued, with tidy features but nothing particularly memorable. The quality is fine although some of the plastics are a little hard. The leather seats on our SZ5 model are well-shaped and the driving position is good. The central media display is effective and while it demands a disclaimer be accepted before every journey, it is one of the more intuitive devices. With its slightly proud frame, it does look a tad like an after-market device, though.

Sure-footed

The 1.6 diesel is slightly coarse-sounding on start-up but quietens down very quickly. It’s punchy, too and despite the spec. sheet telling me it takes 13 seconds to reach 62 mph, feels quicker than this. This is due to a good, flat torque profile which means the engine always feels like it’s on the boil.

Positive gear selection and reasonable feel through the steering offer an enjoyable driving experience. This Suzuki has one big trick up its sleeve, too. Set the mode to Sport and throttle responses are sharpened and it pulls itself round corners like you wouldn’t believe. Suzuki’s experience with the excellent handling Swift and four-wheel-drive systems is certainly evident in the sure-footedness of the new SX4 S-Cross.

Reassuring

Over a few days, I started to like the S-Cross a great deal. It’s like that hard-working chap in the office, the comfortable chair, a favourite screwdriver (yes, I do have one). Quite simply, it just did everything right. Usually, by the end of a week with any car I have found its faults but climbing behind the wheel of the S-Cross each day felt like putting on a good pair of shoes: unremarkable but reassuring. It coped happily on battered country lanes, it ate-up motorway miles, it shifted family and friends and each time, the drive felt good.

So, the S-Cross isn’t going to ignite passion where styling is concerned but the car is extremely well thought-out and executed. It is a willing servant and when the opportunities are there, fun can be had through the corners. Diff lock and mud/snow terrain settings will also deal with bad winters, greasy roads and muddy tracks.

Who will buy one? Reasonable pricing for the front wheel drive versions and good practicality make this an ideal family runabout. The all-wheel-drive option is only available on models over £21,549 which is a little steep and a shame because this is the S-Cross’s trump card.

Suzuki SX4 S-Cross 1.6 DDiS ALLGRIP SZ5, from £23,979 (including £430 for metallic paint).

Power: 120 PS (@ 3,750 rpm), torque: 320 Nm (@ 1,750 rpm), emissions: 114 g/km CO2 (band C), 0-60 mph: 13 secs.

Motor Writer rating: ●●●○○





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