A brilliant restyling that makes it more upscale
Born in 2016, the current Suzuki S-Cross is definitely more sophisticated than its very rustic predecessor. But this model, which occupies the top of the Suzuki range – if except for the Toyota models that have been renamed – suffers from a serious congenital disability. Shared everything with the Vitara, more square, more personal and cheaper, this S-Cross does not manage to surpass the pawn of its brother, whose good face of the small all-terrain is more popular. Therefore, this S-Cross needs a style refresh that can give it real personality and justify its higher selling price. It’s over now. The front and rear of this SUV at the limit of the “small” and “compact” category have been completely revised and give the illusion of something truly new. The machine loses its mollassonne and cutesy lines. It becomes more muscular and looks taller than the Vitara. Without being pretentious or unnecessarily aggressive. This deep restyling therefore appears to have been successful. Bravo on a cheap change to this six year old car, a canonical age for the car.
The dimensions do not change. The wheelbase remains extended by ten centimeters compared to the Vitara and the overall length by 12 centimeters, which improves the space for the rear passengers and the trunk a little. But the body remains very compact. So much the better for housing. The S-Cross hasn’t just changed aesthetically. It actually uses a true hybrid system, which owes nothing to Toyota, which nevertheless owns 5% of its capital. This is what we have known about the Vitara for a few months now. A 1.5 petrol engine is combined with a 24 kW electric machine positioned in the outlet box. The latter drives the transmission and compensates for torque breaks. The set is combined with a robotic single-clutch gearbox. An economical solution, according to the principles that are dear to Suzuki.
A robotic single-clutch gearbox? All right
Result: a definite… disappointment. shame Because these simplistic mechanics do not offer the fluidity of the Renault E-Tech hybrids, for example. Far from it. This robotized box, which we used to know from Peugeot and Citroën, lacks finesse and softness. Slowly, the sequence of reports is punctuated with menace, even a jerk. So, in town, a bumpy ride, even brutal if you push the speed. Not really the idea that we have a hybrid vehicle. The transfer is too long. In Sport mode, the mechanics become more dynamic, but not smoother. This box is the main fault of the car. On the road, the single-clutch box is fortunately less of a problem than in town. And manual mode with paddles on the steering wheel provides more engine braking on a steep descent.
The performances themselves remain modest, with only 115 horsepower. Not forbidding. But a little liveliness would be welcome. Will consumptions decrease? Not needed. We swallowed 7.1 liters of unleaded pennies. That’s four deciliters more… than the 1.4 gasoline version and 48-volt light hybridization, tested last summer and 14 more horsepower. There is no benefit therefore, on the contrary. We stay away from the 6 liters of a Renault Arkana E-Tech, however bigger and more powerful (145 horsepower).
Blurred direction around the midpoint
The steering appears a bit imprecise, light around the midpoint. An embarrassing lack of rigor. It’s confusing at first, but we’ll deal with it. The vehicle remains intact, however, once we have assimilated this ambiguity of direction. And little by little we gain confidence. This S-Cross will not reserve any unpleasant surprises in use. This S-Cross doesn’t offer the efficiency or safety of a Peugeot 2008 or a Renault Captur. But we will appreciate the agility and usability of this car. As in the little Vitara.
We also appreciate the offer of an all-wheel drive “Allgrip”, which is increasingly rarely offered, which provides a significant boost to motor skills when traffic conditions deteriorate. So Suzuki stays true to its roots. And he succeeded in this without incurring an ecological penalty. This four-wheel drive makes this machine an all-road vehicle, including snow, or even a mini-adventurer, despite the modest ground clearance for a 4×4. And the comfort? Quite firm, the running gear is not as silky as in 2008. But, thanks to a reasonable tire fitment with envelopes with a relatively high side (55R17), the comfort of the occupants is generally preserved.
Simple but practical interior
The finish remains a relatively low-end model, with plastics without refinement. But the meeting was at a good level. Nothing to say, everything seems to be solid. In our test car, however, unpleasant squeaks came from the dashboard on broken pavement. There is also too much suspension noise. The ergonomics are quite clear and simple, the driving position is easy to find with easy manual adjustments. The equipment is more than adequate and well thought out in our version of the Style (GPS, front and rear cameras, glass sunroof, etc.).
We’re just sorry that Suzuki added driving aids, which would have been cut from the start, like parking radars that beep at the slightest obstacle or untimely emergency braking assistance. Unfortunately, the intrusive and annoying rear three-quarter warning can’t be silenced. One will also be annoyed by the stupid need to click on the icon confirming that one has read the children’s recommendations page. Otherwise, the screen refuses to work.
On the other hand, habitability and accessibility are excellent for the dimensions, as well as the driving position and visibility. But, in this hybrid, the trunk is cut to make room for the battery. As a result, this one turns out to be quite fair. We also regret the cold, dark, lonely atmosphere inside. Why not an effort of fun, with some colorful decorations? And this, while Suzuki also offers beautiful colors for the exterior, such as metallic blue and red, or even an orange with the best effect.
Stop price inflation!
The price was a… nasty surprise. Because, this full hybrid S-Cross 1.5 does not cause much compared to the more powerful 1.4 Boosterjet gasoline version with light hybridization of 48 volts, more powerful. However, the bill for the Hybrid version is saltier. With an extra 2,800 euros, comparable finish. The price of the 1.4 Boosterjet version starts at 27,890 euros (4×2) and 31,090 (4×4)… Suzuki makes four-wheel drive expensive! The bill can go up to 33,490 (4×4) with high Style finish. But, only available in the latest version of this Style, the 1.5 Hybrid version is shown exactly at… 31,890 euros with two-wheel drive, 36,290 with four-wheel drive.
This difference seems unreasonable for the customer. Even if Suzuki doesn’t provide an auto box with the 1.4 Boosterjet, it will certainly encourage customers to return to the Hybrid. Admittedly, the 1.4 Bosterjet version is liable to a fine of 170 euros (4×4). Not the Hybrid. But that was not enough to bridge such a large gap. Those who really want this 1.5 Hybrid can also save money by opting for the Vitara, which is slightly more spacious but cheaper. The Vitara 1.5 Hybrid is offered from… 30,690 euros with “Allgrip” transmission. Or 5,600 euro difference.
Suzuki earned a good reputation for cars that used to be cheaper than future rivals. The problem is that the prices have seriously climbed in recent years and are in line with those of the competition, with comparable equipment. True, Suzukis are friendly and enjoy a good reputation for stability like all Japanese cars. Cars also retain their four-wheel drive advantage. This Hungarian-assembled S-Cross is also attractive in its ease of use. But prices have to come down – which seems unlikely – or the technology has to improve. Quick, another transmission.
Price of the model tested: Suzuki S-Cross 1.5 Hybrid Allgrip Style: 36,290 euros
engine power: 115 horsepower (hybrid)
Measurements: 4.30 meters (length) x 1.78 (width) x 1.59 (height)
Characteristics: Successful exterior design, simple and practical interiorgood driving position, functional ergonomics, roominess and accessibility, four-wheel drive (useful for snow), reasonable wheel mounting, reputation for reliability
Flaws: Slow and unsatisfying robotic box, average performance, blurred direction, annoying proximity sensor, high price, disappointing consumptions, sad hearts, squeaks
competitors: Renault Captur E-Tech Techno: 30,900 euros; Nissan Juke Hybrid 143 N-Connecta: 31,450 euros; Renault Arkana E-Tech Techno: €35,050; Toyota CH-R 1.8 l Design: 35,500 euros
Rating: 12.5 out of 20