Left field, right cross

Part SUV, part small car ... Suzuki strad­dles two pop­u­lar seg­ments with a model that punches above its weight

Herald Sun - Motoring - - First Drive - CRAIG DUFF craig.duff@carsguide.com.au

SMALL cars are big sell­ers in Aus­tralia and Suzuki fi­nally has a player in this field. The SX4 S-Cross is part hatch, part SUV and all that a lot of buy­ers will ask for in a car.

The 1.6-litre en­gine looks small on the stats sheet but has a power-to-weight ra­tio that’s hard to top in the car or SUV field as well as class-lead­ing cargo space. The only thing miss­ing is a five-year war­ranty to match the South Kore­ans.

VALUE

The S-Cross is about $3000 dearer than the out­go­ing SX4. It’s a roomier, lighter and more mod­ern car but some may baulk at the step up.

A $22,990 en­try price buys a front-wheel drive GL with a 1.6-litre petrol en­gine and fivespeed man­ual. The CVT adds $2500. The GLX is the sweet spot and is ex­pected to dom­i­nate sales. The 2WD ver­sion has a CVT with a sevenstep pad­dle-shift man­ual mode for $29,990. The all-wheel drive ver­sion adds $3000.

Top­ping the line-up is the GLX Pres­tige. It comes as AWD only and fea­tures in­clude leather up­hol­stery and panoramic sun­roof.

All mod­els are fit­ted with Blue­tooth, cruise con­trol and al­loy wheels but the GLX adds dual-zone air­con, 6.1-inch touch­screen with sat­nav, re­vers­ing cam­era and pad­dleshifters with a seven-step se­quence for the CVT.

SUV-styled ri­vals such as the Nis­san Dualis cost $25,990$36,890, while the class-lead­ing small car, the Toy­ota Corolla, starts at $19,990 and runs to $28,490.

TECH­NOL­OGY

The all-wheel drive setup, dubbed All Grip, has four se­lectable modes that will suit most con­di­tions, given the 165mm ground clear­ance. The de­fault auto mode is an on- de­mand set­ting that sends power to the rear wheels only when it de­tects slip.

Sport mode trans­fers power to all four wheels and the Snow mode is set up to max­imise grip on low-trac­tion sur­faces in­clud­ing gravel. The lock set­ting is in­tended to ex­tri­cate the S-Cross from deep snow, sand or mud.

The 1.6-litre doesn’t have a turbo or di­rect in­jec­tion and Suzuki ar­gues it doesn’t need th­ese. De­spite be­ing a big­ger car, the S-Cross is 100kg lighter than the SX4.

DE­SIGN

Con­form­ist looks means the S-Cross isn’t go­ing to stand out in the carpark. It shares a ta­per­ing roofline with the likes of the Dualis and it is only the cor­po­rate grille and un­du­lat­ing char­ac­ter line that will dis­tin­guish it at a ca­sual glance.

The generic look be­lies se­ri­ous work to im­prove aero­dy­nam­ics and help re­duce fuel con­sump­tion.

The S-Cross also has ap­pre­cia­bly more rear legroom than an SX4 and will take four adults in com­fort.

The panoramic sun­roof on Pres­tige mod­els trims head­room but the rear seat backs can be re­clined to off­set it.

Legroom up­front has in­creased by 6mm and there’s now a rub­berised soft-touch plas­tic on the front of the dash that Carsguide would like to have seen ex­tended to the up­per door trims.

The rest of the trim com­prises hard but tex­tured plas­tics with satin chrome high­lights. The in­stru­ment bin­na­cle is easy to read and the touch­screen is small but smart.

SAFETY

EuroNCAP has anointed the S-Cross as a five-star car, with good or ad­e­quate read­ings in all three crash tests and good whiplash pro­tec­tion. Suzuki ex­pects ANCAP to fol­low suit with the top mark, given the high scores the Suzuki achieved in all ar­eas.

Seven airbags are stan­dard across the range and there’s the de rigueur suite of soft­ware aids linked to the ABS.

DRIV­ING

Anaemic power fig­ures on pa­per don’t trans­late to a lack of per­for­mance on the road. Through a twist­ing as­cent of the Ot­ways in south­ern Vic­to­ria the Suzuki was a ca­pa­ble per­former with two adults on board.

Thank­fully the dreaded CVT drone is ab­sent from the S-Cross, re­placed by a me­chan­i­cal whine that as­cends into a snarl as the ac­cel­er­a­tor is de­pressed.

Suzuki says the power-toweight ra­tio is bet­ter than the Dualis and Trax and we have no rea­son to doubt this.

The fuel con­sump­tion is just as im­pres­sive. Claimed use of 6.2L/100km is prob­a­bly achiev­able, given Carsguide viewed read­ous of no worse than 8.0L in more than 200km of hard driv­ing.

The man­u­ally ad­justable seats are sup­port­ive and the wheel ad­justs for reach and height, mak­ing it easy to find a com­fort­able driv­ing po­si­tion. The steer­ing is in­ten­tion­ally light at most speeds to cater for the ur­ban cou­ples ex­pected to be the main buy­ers of the car.

It doesn’t have the

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