Suzuki SX4 S-Cross review

Our Rating: 
4
4.0/5.0
2013 model
By Auto Express Test TeamComments

The Suzuki SX4 S-Cross is a rival for the Nissan Qashqai, with efficient engines, plenty of space and the option of four-wheel drive

For: 
Efficient engines, genuine 4x4 system, good value
Against: 
Generic looks, cheap interior trim, lack of refinement

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Suzuki’s SX4 S-Cross is an oft-forgotten car in an extremely competitive sector. It might not look like much from the outside, but it’s a spacious, efficient and very good value offering in the crossover market. Opt for the diesel and you have a reasonably peppy and efficient car, but the non-turbo petrol isn’t quite as competitive.

One sacrifice you’ll have to make is the interior, however. Equipment levels are strong, but it’s not as well-trimmed or plush as many (more expensive) rivals. It’s also not that refined, but it handles well, and top models can be had with a proper four-wheel drive system which helps it stand out from rivals.

Our Choice: 
Our choice: SX4 S-Cross 1.6D SZ-T 2WD

The Suzuki SX4 S-Cross was one of the later arrivals to the crossover-SUV scene back in 2013. It’s about to be facelifted as part of a mid-life update, but the current model is still a decent offering in a very competitive sector.

When the Suzuki SX4 S-Cross was launched it competed directly with the Nissan Qashqai and Kia Sportage. As those models (and most rivals) have grown, it now sits in-between the C-Segment and smaller supermini-sized crossovers like the Renault Captur and Suzuki’s own Vitara. It’s towards the larger end of the class, however: at 4.3m long and with a 2.6m wheelbase it’s not much smaller than the Qashqai.

Prices start at around £14k, showing that the Suzuki is one of the best value offerings in the crossover market. It’s available with a pair of 1.6-litre engines (one petrol, one diesel) but it’s the oil-burner that makes the most sense unless you’re absolutely against driving a diesel.  Base models get two-wheel drive and a manual gearbox, but you can spec four-wheel drive and (as of 2016) a dual-clutch automatic gearbox.

Best crossovers to buy 2016

Suzuki doesn’t offer a wild variety of different trim levels with the SX4 S-Cross. Base SZ3 spec gets air-con, cruise control, Bluetooth, stop/start and steering-wheel mounted controls, which is a reasonable kit tally. SZ-T spec seems like a steep upgrade, but you get keyless go, sat-nav, rear parking sensors and camera, dual-zone climate control, a DAB radio and an upgraded speaker system.

As a result, SZ-T is probably the best balance of equipment and price, but top-spec SZ5 still exists if you want your S-Cross fully-loaded: It brings along leather trim, front parking sensors, auto lights and wipers, a panoramic roof and LED running lights. It does push the price close to a number of more talented rivals, however. 

Engines, performance and drive

3.7
Handles well for its size but the ride could be better and the petrol engine is mediocre

The Suzuki SX4 S-Cross is competent rather than exciting on the road, but the same goes for most cars in this class. It’s actually quite a sharp drive – like its smaller Vitara sibling, it’s been set up to drive like a regular hatchback rather than an SUV.

The steering is nice and accurate and has good weighting to it, meaning it’s easy to place on the road for a car of this size. There’s not too much body roll either – it doesn’t feel as planted as a Mazda CX-3 but it’s pretty good. The gearchange is slick enough, too, and the whole car feels quite agile and light on its feet for an SUV. It’s a match for the Nissan Qashqai in this regard, if not quite across the board.  

Suzuki SX4 S-Cross vs rivals

Unfortunately, the Suzuki’s good handling comes at the expense of the ride. It’s not uncomfortable, but compared to a Nissan Qashqai or Skoda Yeti it just isn’t as insulating over rough roads. Wind and road noise are noticeable, too, so there are more refined crossovers around.

Suzuki's ALLGRIP selectable four-wheel drive system is available with both petrol and diesel variants, and either and automatic or manual gearbox. That's a bigger variant choice than most rivals that get four-wheel drive only with the flagship diesel. The system works well on muddy tracks, but the SX4 S-Cross doesn't have much ground clearance and the ALLGRIP system asks for a small performance penalty.

Engines

To keep things simple, Suzuki has just two engine options for the SX4 S-Cross: 1.6-litre units in petrol or diesel form. Unlike many engines found in the S-Cross’ rivals, the petrol engine does without a turbocharger to boost efficiency and performance. While its 118bhp output sounds reasonable enough, it produces just 156Nm of torque, so feels pretty gutless at low revs and needs to be worked hard to make progress. Efficiency and refinement suffer as a result. 

The diesel, on the other hand, is a better choice all-round. It has the same 118bhp as the petrol but produces more than twice the torque, at 320Nm. That makes it more relaxing to drive and quicker in the real-world, despite a slower 0-62mph time. It also gets a six-speed manual gearbox as opposed to the petrol’s five, while as of 2015 both get the option of a six-speed dual-clutch automatic that’s reasonably slick and much better than the old CVT transmission. In terms of noise, it’s not the quietest diesel on the market, but it doesn’t make too much racket and settles down at a cruise. 

MPG, CO2 and running costs

3.5
SX4 S-Cross is a mixed bag for efficiency: the petrol isn't brilliant but the diesel excels

It might be the largest model in Suzuki’s line-up, but that doesn’t mean the SX4 S-Cross is expensive to run. Depending on which model you choose, you should get a reliable car that’s cheaper than its rivals to buy and on a par with them on ownership costs.

Of the two engine choices available for the SX4 S-Cross, the diesel is by far the best for those doing longer distances. It manages a strong combined economy figure of 67.2mpg, which should equate to around 50mpg in the real-world by comparison. CO2 emissions are as low as 110g/km, which is competitive enough.

Be aware, though, that the addition of four-wheel drive and an automatic gearbox can harm both these figures, if not by an awful lot. The S-Cross ALLGRIP with the new TCSS dual-clutch gearbox manages 62.8mpg combined and emits 118g/km. That’s a whole lot better than the old automatic model, however.

The petrol, on the other hand, isn’t great in this area. 51.4mpg combined seems reasonable for a 1.6-litre SUV, but the lack of a turbo means that almost all rivals offer petrols that are more efficient and faster. CO2 figures of 127g/km also rule it out for company car use.

Insurance Groups:

The SX4 S-Cross might be cheaper than most rivals to buy, but its insurance groups are on a par with them. The cheapest petrol SZ3 model sits in group 13, which is well above the base Vauxhall Mokka (group 6) but less than the entry-level Nissan Qashqai (group 14). It rises to group 20 in top spec form with the diesel engine.

Depreciation

You might expect a big Suzuki to suffer poor residual values, but according to our experts that isn’t the case. Our experts expect the SX4 S-Cross to retain between 38 and 48 per cent of its value after three years depending on spec. The cheapest diesel sits at the stronger end of that, and is expected to be worth £7,475 after that time.

Interior, design and technology

3.5
It's safe rather than exciting to look at, while materials inside could be better. There's loads of kit, however

The SX4 S-Cross isn’t the most distinctive crossover around, but it looks fairly modern and well-proportioned. Suzuki admits that the Vitara is its style-oriented model in this sector.

The rounded, hatchback-like front end is very different to the more muscular looking crossover-SUVs we’ve seen launched of late, but it still looks distinctive. Xenon headlamps and LED daytime running lights on top models help it to look classy, too. There’s also plenty of lower body cladding to give it that rugged style that’s so desirable nowadays. It’s a bit plain in profile and from behind, however.

The SX4 S-Cross is set to be updated later in 2016 with a facelift that Suzuki claims will make it look even more like a true SUV. It’ll hopefully improve interior quality, as that’s another area the S-Cross lags behind the best. The materials are hard-wearing and functional rather than premium, although given how much cheaper it is than rivals that’s something that can be forgiven. The dash design isn’t the most exciting, but silver trim lifts the look and it’s very easy to get on with.

What doesn’t disappoint is the sheer amount of equipment, particularly on high spec models. Even base models get cruise control and Bluetooth, which is impressive considering it’s priced at mid-spec supermini levels. SZ-T trim, with sat-nav, a DAB radio, climate control and a rear-view camera, is the best balance of affordability and kit. No models have adaptive cruise control, however.

Sat-nav, stereo and infotainment 

Entry-level models get a basic stereo with a monochrome display, a CD player, four speakers, a USB socket and Bluetooth. You also get steering wheel audio controls as standard, while SZ4 models add two more speakers. It’s a simple to use system, but SZ-T and SZ-5 feel more modern thanks to the colour touchscreen that adds sat-nav and a DAB radio. The system isn’t the most polished, but it’s responsive enough and easy to use.

Practicality, comfort and boot space

3.8
A good amount of room on offer considering the size of the car, but storage for items inside the cabin is lacking

The S-Cross sits somewhere in between the Vitara and Nissan Qashqai in terms of size, so it’s not the most accommodating car in its class. Even so, decent packaging means there’s a good amount of room on offer and a practical bootspace.

There’s plenty of space up front for people of all shapes and sizes, with adjustment for reach and rake on the wheel and a light, airy feel. Visibility is excellent, too.

Rear seat passengers aren’t quite as well accommodated, but space back there is better than in a similarly priced supermini. It’s a shame it lacks any clever storage solutions, though: the door pockets are big enough, but oddments stowage is limited to a small dash-top cubby and an average-sized bin ahead of the cupholder.

Size: The SX4 S-Cross is 4.3m long, which makes it a little bit shorter than SUVs like the Nissan Qashqai, but not by much – showing you get a lot of car for your money from Suzuki. It’s not as tall as most of its rivals, though, so doesn’t have the same high-riding presence as full-blown family SUVs.

Head and legroom

Up front, both head and legroom is plentiful, and the driver’s seat has a wide range of adjustment to ensure it’s easy to get comfortable. Little separates the Suzuki with its rivals in terms of leg space for rear occupants, but the panoramic roof on top models eats into headroom.

Boot

The Suzuki has a good size boot, at 430 litres with the seats up. That’s bigger than a Skoda Yeti’s and the same as a Nissan Qashqai’s. You can also fold the rear seats 60/40 and flat, so you have even more space for large objects. Like most cars of this class, there’s a false floor in the boot to keep valuables out of sight, plus a luggage net.

Reliability and Safety

4.4
Suzuki has a strong track record for reliability and there's plenty of safety kit as standard

The Suzuki SX4 S-Cross isn’t likely to let you down often, as it’s proven to be a pretty reliable car that lives up to the Japanese brand’s high standards. Both engines are well proven and have been used elsewhere in the range, too.

The SX4 S-Cross finished in a decent 62nd place in our 2016 Driver Power survey, better than cars like the Kia Sportage and Vauxhall Mokka. It received strong scores for reliability and practicality, although build quality could be better.

There’s a good amount of safety kit as standard, too. All versions get seven airbags, stability control and tyre-pressure monitoring, plus emergency brake assist. All of this helped it achieve five stars from Euro NCAP when it was first tested. It lacks features like autonomous braking, though, which means it wouldn’t get five stars today.

Warranty

All models come with a three-year, 60,000-mile warranty as standard, which is reasonable, but Hyundai and Kia both better it with five- or seven-year warranties. Suzuki also offers low-cost breakdown cover, while there’s three different levels of extended warranty available at an extra cost. You can pay for it outright or monthly. 

Servicing

All Suzuki SX4 S-Cross’s need servicing every 12 months or 12,500 miles, whichever is sooner. Unlike some rivals, that doesn’t change if you buy a diesel instead of a petrol. Some rivals have longer service intervals, however. Maintenance costs are pretty reasonable at a Suzuki dealer, though.  

Last updated: 12 Jul, 2016