Suzuki S-Cross 2014- Launch Review

25 Apr 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on Suzuki S-Cross 2014- Launch Review

Suzuki S-Cross 2014: Launch Review

Suzuki S-Cross GL, GLX and GLX Prestige

Local Launch

Torquay, Victoria

What we liked:

Light but strong body

Plenty of interior space

Outstanding fuel efficiency

Not so much:

Not the cheapest in class

Hard interior plastics

No full-size spare

OVERVIEW

Suzuki finally offers a compelling small crossover

In January Suzuki will become the latest brand to enter the burgeoning small crossover segment hitherto dominated by the Nissan Dualis, Hyundai ix35 and Subaru XV.

Based on an all-new and lighter platform that will also underpin an ‘SUV’ sibling based on the iV-4 concept, the S-Cross is Suzuki’s first bona fide small C-segment ‘crossover hatch’, replacing the light-size B-segment SX4.

It’s not the cheapest in the segment, but with a starting price of just $22,990 (plus on-road costs), plus outstanding fuel economy, respectable performance, five-star safety and plenty of space, there’s a lot going for it.

PRICE AND EQUIPMENT

Competitive by all measures

The S-Cross model line-up is a simple affair, comprising just one engine, two transmissions, two drivetrains and three equipment grades.

Opening the batting is the entry-level GL, priced at $22,990 (plus on-road costs) in base front-wheel drive manual form.

It is fitted as standard with Bluetooth connectivity, cruise control, 16-inch alloy wheels, manual air-conditioning, power windows/mirrors, keyless entry, trip computer, a four-speaker audio system with steering wheel controls and a reach/rake-adjustable steering wheel.

A CVT automatic transmission with hill-hold control costs $2500 extra but comes standard on all other models, including the mid-range two-wheel drive GLX priced from $29,990 (plus ORCs) and the all-wheel drive GLX ($32,990 plus ORCs).

Both GLX models add satellite-navigation via a 6.1-inch colour touchscreen, a keyless push-button starter, 17-inch alloys, automatic HID headlights, automatic wipers, LED running lamps, paddle shifters, dual-zone climate-control, and rear parking sensors.

The top-grade model also offers silver instead of black roof rails, silver body garnishes, mirror-mounted side indicators, an auto-dimming rear vision mirror, leather-trimmed steering wheel, two rear cup-holders, three extra speakers and an auxiliary audio input.

Priced at $34,990 (plus ORCs), the top-shelf all-wheel drive GLX Prestige adds leather seat trim and what Suzuki claims is the world’s first double sliding glass panoramic sunroof.

Six exterior paint colours are available: Crystal Lime Metallic, Cool White Pearl, Silky Silver Metallic, Galactic Gray Metallic, Cosmic Black Pearl Metallic and Bright Red.

MECHANICAL

Benchmark efficiency thanks to less weight

Suzuki says the S-Cross delivers class-leading fuel consumption, despite a power-to-weight ratio that eclipses its two closest rivals.

The secret to the all-new small crossover’s efficiency is not its relatively low-tech, low-output 86kW/156Nm 1.6-litre four-cylinder petrol engine, but an all-new platform that makes the S-Cross 110kg lighter than the smaller SX4 it replaces.

In base GL five-speed manual form, the S-Cross weighs just 1085kg, increasing to 1125kg for the seven-speed CVT (auto) version, and 1190kg for the CVT-only GLX with all-wheel drive.

The result is combined fuel consumption of just 5.8L/100km for 2WD CVT models (down from 7.3L/100km for the SX4 2WD) and 6.2L/100km for AWDs (down from 8.0L/100km).

More importantly, that means the S-Cross is more efficient that its nearest C-segment passenger car and SUV rivals, including the Toyota Corolla and Ford Focus (6.6L/100km), Holden Cruze (6.8), Hyundai i30 (7.1), Mitsubishi Lancer and Volkswagen Tiguan (7.3), Holden Trax (7.6), Mitsubishi ASX (7.7) and Mazda3 and Nissan Dualis (8.2).

Aiding the new Suzuki’s efficiency is an engine with a lighter crankshaft, bearings, pistons, con-rods, exhaust manifold, radiator and fan, plus a new two-stage oil pump, lower idling speed and revised fuel pump, engine mounts and fuel cut-off speed.

There’s also more extensive use of high-tensile steel in its body (which is claimed to be 25 per cent more torsionally rigid) and a smoother roofline and under-floor covers, reducing aerodynamic drag from 0.40 to 0.33Cd.

Despite the benchmark consumption, Suzuki says its 76.4kW/tonne power-to-weight ratio eclipses that of the Trax (75.1) and Dualis (73.2), against which it was benchmarked, although the ASX tops the list at 81.2kW/tonne.

The same lightweight platform and 1.6-litre petrol engine (as well as a 1.6-litre diesel with manual and CVT transmissions in about 12 months) will also form the basis of a new Suzuki SUV based on the iV-4 concept. which is also built at Suzuki’s plant in Hungary.

Eclipsing the SX4, the S-Cross measures 4300mm long, 1765mm wide, 1575mm high (1580mm for the GL, which has 5mm more ground clearance at 170mm) and rides on a 2600mm wheelbase.

Steering is electric power-assisted, braking is ventilated front and solid rear discs, suspension is via MacPherson front struts and a torsion beam rear axle, and towing capacity is 1200kg (400kg unbraked).

AWD versions come with an improved four-mode all-wheel drive system called ALLGRIP, which defaults to front-drive in its Auto setting and also offers Snow, Sport and Lock modes.

PACKAGING

Class-leading space

Suzuki claims the S-Cross offers class-leading space, including total cargo space of 1269 litres and a 430-litre boot (VDA) – more than the Mitsubishi ASX (416 litres), Nissan Dualis (410), Volkswagen Tiguan (395), Holden Trax (356), Mazda3 (340), Subaru XV (310) and Toyota Corolla (280).

The boot is augmented by a 60:40 split-folding rear seat and a false floor, although there’s no full-size spare under it (just a space-saver) and the centre rear seatbelt retracts inelegantly into the roof.

But there’s no doubt there’s plenty of space in the roomy back seat, with rear passengers afforded good head and legroom, with the latter increasing by 44mm to 814 and rear knee room also up by 39mm over the SX4.

SAFETY

Top marks but no advanced driver aids

All S-Cross models come well equipped with seven airbags (including twin front, front-side, side curtain and driver’s knee airbags), plus electronic traction and stability control, anti-lock brakes, electronic brake-force distribution and brake assist.

Naturally, there’s also five three-point seatbelts, five head restraints, front seatbelt pretensioners and force-limiters, three child seat anchor points and two ISOFIX anchors.

Although a reversing camera is fitted only from the mid-range GLX level, the S-Cross achieved a maximum five-star Euro NCAP safety rating, scoring 92 per cent for adult protection, 80 per cent for child protection, 72 per cent for pedestrian protection and 81 per cent for safety assist, reflecting its lack of advanced driver aids like low-speed collision avoidance, lane departure warning and blind spot monitoring.

COMPETITORS

No shortage of them, new and old

With a mechanically similar compact SUV due here next year, Suzuki will market the S-Cross as a crossover hatch, but admits it will compete with both small hatchbacks and SUVs.

The former is Australia’s single biggest sales segment and was most recently joined by the new Volkswagen Golf, Toyota Corolla, Hyundai i30 and (in February) Mazda Mazda3, while the latter has seen more new releases than any other segment in recent times.

New compact SUVs include the Ford EcoSport (from $20,790), Hyundai ix35 Series II (from $26,990), Holden Trax (from $23,490), Nissan JUKE (from $21,990) and Peugeot 2008 (from $21,990), while existing stalwarts include the top-selling Nissan Dualis (from $25,990), Mitsubishi ASX (from $24,990), Skoda Yeti (from $26,290), VW Tiguan (from $28,490) and Subaru XV (from $28,490).

The S-Cross therefore isn’t the cheapest entrant in either segment, but Suzuki believes its $22,990 starting price, sizeable interior and outstanding economy will easily attract at least 500 buyers a month – more than the Trax, but only about half that of the top-selling Dualis, not to mention small hatches that find more than 3000 homes monthly.

Suzuki says the base S-Cross GL offers a tighter (10.4-metre) turning circle than the ASX and Dualis ST (10.6), and the Trax LS (10.9), which is the only model of this trio to also come with a CD player.

It also points out that unlike the Dualis Ti-L, ASX Aspire and Trax LTZ, HID headlights are fitted as standard on the S-Cross GLX, which also comes with dual-zone climate-control (fitted only to the Dualis Ti-L), a driver’s knee airbag (fitted only to the ASX Aspire) and satellite-navigation (unavailable on Trax LTZ).

ON THE ROAD

Surprisingly spritely, especially frugal

It’s been a long time since Suzuki has launched a new model, but the wait has been worth it.

Based on a lighter new platform that will underpin a number of other new-generation Suzuki models, the S-Cross sets a number of new benchmarks in the booming compact SUV segment.

Belying its somewhat generic exterior and mild on-paper specs, the S-Cross is a roomy, honest performer that’s well equipped and surprisingly efficient.

No, it won’t set the quarter-mile strip on fire, but the new 1.6-litre four offers adequate performance at all times and has no trouble hauling the SX4 replacement’s paltry sub-1200kg kerb weight away from the lights or up open-road inclines.

The CVT — standard on all but the base GL — is one of the better ones around, sounding and feeling less like a slipping clutch than most but still groaning when pushed hard.

In contrast, the S-Cross chassis feels decidedly sporting, offering good body control even over bumps and a good compromise between flat handling and a plush ride.

Despite the low rolling resistance Continental ‘eco’ tyres, there’s a decent amount of grip and the cabin remains well isolated from road and wind noise.


The electric steering is light for our tastes and doesn’t offer Porsche levels of response or feedback, but firms up nicely at speed and is well suited to trips to the shops and Saturday soccer.

Families will also love the spacious interior, with the back seat offering loads more head and leg room than the SX4 and the boot swallowing more than any other small SUV or hatch.

As you’d expect, it’s made more flexible by a 60:40 split-folding rear seat, while a clever false floor hides a wide and flat compartment, under which resides a space-saver spare that won’t instill confidence outside metro areas.

Nobody expects a sumptuous soft-touch interior for under $23,000, but the only soft surfaces in the S-Cross – including GLX variants – are a strip across the dashboard, the centre armrest and the door armrests.

The GL misses a host of equipment from upstream models, but its manual air-conditioning, old-fashioned key-start and non-display sound system present no real chores, although the thin urethane steering wheel feels decidedly cheap.

Perhaps the biggest surprise is the S-Cross’ outstanding fuel consumption, with two cars we drove consuming just 6.2L/100km despite a big dose of throttle on the Great Ocean Road, and a third returning a hybrid-like 5.0L/100km on an extended transport stage.

Equipped with an automatic transmission, the S-Cross isn’t the cheapest car in its class at $25,500 — $4000 more than the SX4. But the extra you’ll spend over, say, a Ford EcoSport should be quickly recouped at the bowser.

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Published. Wednesday, 4 December 2013

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