Suzuki SX4 S-Cross review
The Suzuki SX4 S-Cross is a rival for the Nissan Qashqai, with efficient engines, plenty of space and the option of 4x4
Suzuki was late to the compact crossover party, but the new Suzuki SX4 S-Cross was worth the wait. With its versatile cabin, sharp drive, generous kit and low running costs, it’s a desirable family runaround.
Its rivals the Nissan Qashqai and Skoda Yeti, and comes in a choice of four main specifications: SZ3, SZ4, SZ-T and SZ5, with a DDiS 6-speed manual gearbox available on all models and ALLGRIP four-wheel drive available on the SZ-T and SZ5 models. As with its rivals, there’s a choice of sprightly petrol and frugal diesel engines, too.
The SZT trim includes sat-nav, reversing sensors, Bluetooth and DAB radio. Even entry-level SZ3 cars will come with alloy wheels, electric windows, cruise control and manual air-conditioning as standard, while the top-spec versions get heated leather seats, a huge sliding panoramic sun roof and upgraded auto headlights.
Our choice: SX4 S-Cross 1.6D SZ4 2WD
While it’s not the most distinctive-looking crossover around, the SX4 S-Cross is a modern and well proportioned design. A prominent grille is flanked by large, high-intensity discharge headlamps, plus there’s the usual SUV-inspired plastic body cladding.
All versions come with alloy wheels, as well as body-coloured bumpers and door mirrors. Our SZ5 test car adds 17-inch rims with a polished finish, practical roof bars and eye-catching LED running lights.
Climb aboard and you’ll discover a neatly styled and logically laid-out cabin. The simple dash design is easy to get on with – particularly on the SZ5, with its intuitive touchscreen infotainment and sat-nav system. As with the exterior, the cabin isn’t the most eye-catching around, but the blue-ringed dials and silver trim for the air vents help lift the ambience.
As we’ve come to expect from the latest crop of Suzukis, quality is superb. The plastics have an upmarket look and feel, while the fixtures and fittings feel robustly constructed. It’s easy to get comfortable behind the wheel, as there’s plenty of seat and steering column adjustment, and the flat-looking seats are surprisingly supportive.
You get lots of standard kit, too. As well as sat-nav, the SZ5 has heated and hide-trimmed seats, climate control, reversing camera, keyless entry and panoramic glass sunroof.
You don’t normally expect a high-riding crossover to deliver driving thrills, but the Suzuki is surprisingly engaging from behind the wheel. Despite its large size, it feels agile on twisting back roads and responds much more eagerly to the steering than rivals.
As you’d anticipate, there’s more body roll than with a standard family hatch, yet it’s no worse than the Nissan Qashqai and less pronounced than the Kia Sportage. And while the steering is a little light, it delivers decent feedback. A snappy six-speed gearbox and progressive brakes are further dynamic highlights.
The good news is that the Suzuki’s nimble handling doesn’t come at the expense of comfort. Supple suspension means the SX4 soaks up bumps that send a shudder through the Sportage, while the interior is well insulated from wind and road noise. The only fly in the ointment is a slight waywardness on the motorway, which requires constant small corrections with the steering wheel.
There are two 1.6-litre engines to choose from in the SX4 S-Cross – one petrol and one diesel. Both produce 118bhp but there is a massive difference in torque as the petrol produces just 156Nm (less than half of the diesel’s 320Nm output), which means that the diesel is much more relaxing to drive. The petrol comes with a five-speed manual gearbox or a CVT automatic, but feels strained and often underpowered when driving up steep inclines or when loaded with passengers.
There are no complaints about the 118bhp 1.6-litre diesel, which is a smooth and punchy performer. More importantly, with a muscular 320Nm of torque available from a mere 1,750rpm, the SX4 delivers effortless real-world pace and is able to power up hills that leave the Qashqai and Sportage a little breathless.
Suzuki is one of the few Japanese manufacturers that hasn't been affected by a major product recall in the last 12 months. Both the engines on offer (although tweaked for efficiency) have been used elsewhere in the Suzuki range and have a proven track record. Inside, the cabin feels fairly robust – part of the appeal of its basic design - and it feels sturdier than rivals like the Vauxhall Mokka.
Suzuki finished a disappointing 29th out of 32 overall in our 2013 Driver Power survey, but its cars scored well for reliability. The S-Cross certainly feels built to last, while many mechanicals are shared with other established models in the brand’s line-up.
Safety was a priority when developing the SX4, which helped to earn the car a creditable five-star Euro NCAP crash test score.
All versions get seven airbags, stability control and tyre-pressure monitoring, while our SZ5 adds high-intensity discharge headlamps as well as automatic lights and windscreen wipers.
The S-Cross is slightly shorter and narrower than the Nissan Qashqai and Kia Sportage, meaning it can’t quite match them for interior space. Even so, thoughtful packaging results in a useful 430-litre boot, which can easily be extended by folding the rear bench flat – although there are no remote release handles in the luggage area.
Elsewhere in the boot you’ll find a number of handy shopping bag hooks, a 12V power supply and a neat false floor that lifts to reveal extra storage. There’s also a pair of lidded cubbies hidden behind the rear wheelarches.
Little separates our contenders for rear legroom, but the Suzuki loses out when it comes to headroom as its panoramic roof eats into the space. And because the car is narrow, the rear bench is more of a squeeze for three adults.
At least there’s plenty of room up front, while the glass roof lets in a lot of light to help create a bright and airy atmosphere. Unfortunately, the Suzuki is let down by its lack of useful storage. Not only are the door pockets shallow, but you get just a small dashtop cubby and
an average-sized bin ahead of the gearlever.
Unlike most crossovers in this segment the SX4 S-Cross should be very affordable to run – all but the petrol four-wheel-drive model produce less than 130g/km of CO2 and diesel models get stop-start as standard, which helps to drop that figure to just 110g/km for the front-wheel-drive car. Economy varies but even the petrol versions manage a claimed fuel economy figure of more than 50mpg, while the diesel variants nudge closer to 70mpg.
There are drawbacks, though. For instance, Suzuki doesn’t offer a pre-paid servicing pack, so routine maintenance will cost you more. Also, our experts predict that the S-Cross will retain only 43.3 per cent of its value after three years, which is some way behind the 50.8 per cent figure estimated for the Kia.