SUZUKI SUV IS ALL GROWN UP

BIG­GER S-CROSS COMES AT A PRICE

Western Suburbs Weekly - - Driveway - Richard Black­burn

SUZUKI’S S-Cross baby cross­over is no longer a bargain base­ment propo­si­tion.

The maker has dumped the cheap­est ver­sion of the S-Cross and re­placed it with a much more ex­pen­sive tur­bocharged model pre­sented as an al­ter­na­tive to its Vi­tara small SUV.

The S-Cross used to be priced from $22,990 drive away but the new model will start from $28,990 drive away.

A bet­ter equipped ver­sion will cost $30,990.

That’s a big leap but Suzuki man­ag­ing di­rec­tor An­drew Moore said the move was de­signed to at­tract older, more con­ser­va­tive buy­ers who want more equip­ment and aren’t sold on the more rugged SUV styling of the Vi­tara.

The new S-Cross has had a visual makeover, with a bolder front grille, new al­loy wheels and up­dated touch­screen in­fo­tain­ment set-up.

Gone are the 1.6-litre en­gine and con­tin­u­ously vari­able trans­mis­sion, re­placed by the 1.4-litre turbo and stan­dard sixspeed auto from the Vi­tara.

All-wheel drive is no longer an op­tion and the new S-Cross is more car-like.

Com­peti­tors in­clude the Mazda CX-3 and Honda HR-V, which are both more city­fo­cused than the Vi­tara.

Stan­dard equip­ment on the SCross Turbo in­cludes sat­nav, Ap­ple CarPlay (but not An­droid Auto), seven airbags, cruise con­trol, re­vers­ing cam­era and 17inch al­loys. The Turbo Pres­tige model adds key­less en­try and start, rear park­ing sen­sors, par­tial leather seats and LED head­lights.

Once you get past the in­y­our-face new grille and the smat­ter­ing of hard plas­tics in the cabin, the up­dated S-Cross is not with­out its charms.

The new touch­screen is more mod­ern-look­ing and the di­als are clear and easy to read. Stan­dard sat­nav puts it on par with the more ex­pen­sive ver­sions of the CX-3 and HR-V, while you can mir­ror your smart­phone menu on the big screen, if you have an iPhone.

In a ma­jor over­sight, the Suzuki doesn’t have the same func­tion for An­droid users, de­spite the fact they are in the ma­jor­ity in Aus­tralia.

A dig­i­tal speedo, rear air vents and au­to­matic emer­gency brak­ing are other no­table omis­sions, al­though they are bal­anced by the leather seats, and gen­er­ous head and legroom in the

rear.

The S-Cross is fun on the open road. It’s light­weight with a rea­son­ably low cen­tre of grav­ity, which means it feels ag­ile through the cor­ners.

The fun fac­tor is helped by di­rect and ac­cu­rate steer­ing and good grip from the Con­ti­nen­tal tyres. The sus­pen­sion is gen­er­ally well con­trolled over bumps and rip­ples but less-than-per­fect back roads gen­er­ate a fair bit of road and sus­pen­sion noise.

The 1.4-litre turbo per­forms above the class av­er­age, with good re­sponse off the mark and strong mid-range for over­tak­ing. On the free­way it feels more re­laxed than many ri­vals, lum­ber­ing along qui­etly at low revs.

It’s thrifty too. We achieved 5.5litres/100km on the free­way and about 10.0litres in heavy city traf­fic.

Ver­dict: Even at $30,000, the Suzuki has its pluses: aboveav­er­age per­for­mance, sta­ble road man­ners, gen­er­ous equip­ment list and big, roomy cabin.

It’s well worth a look.

Suzuki's high-spec SCross is chas­ing more dis­cern­ing mo­torists.

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