Suzuki has had huge success with a variety of 4x4s over the years, and the SX4 S-Cross is its latest offering - designed to plug the gap in the line-up between the Swift and old Grand Vitara. This was our first chance to try it on UK roads and also to test the CVT automatic all-wheel drive version in range-topping SZ5 trim.
With a fairly modest output of 118bhp and just 156Nm of torque from its 1.6-litre petrol engine, the S-Cross needs to be worked hard to build some momentum. Choosing the CVT gearbox instead of the manual adds over a second to the 0-62mph benchmark sprint, and limits its top speed to 102mph.
Prod the throttle too firmly though, and as the revs spike the gearbox converter whines noisily, and although there are a set of paddles on the steering wheel for making artificial manual changes, their main purpose seems to be limiting the noise.
Most crossovers spend most of their time firmly on-road, and that’s clearly the Suzuki SX4 S-Cross’ home turf. It feels comfortable, light and easy to maneuver, with quick and well-weighted steering and a decent amount of grip from the switchable ‘ALLGRIP’ four-wheel drive system.
Inside, both driver and passenger have a raised seating position to help give a more commanding view down the road and all-round visibility is good, but the rest of the dash is mounted low so you feel like you sit on - rather than in - the car.
The flagship SZ5 comes loaded with kit including tyre pressure monitors and DAB radio – a first for any Suzuki - but despite the leather upholstery and after market touchscreen sat-nav the hard plastics in the cabin do seem rather cheap. The 430-litre boot does make the Suzuki one of the more practical contenders in this class but the glass panoramic roof on our test car really limits the headroom.
On the outside though the S-Cross is a huge improvement over the previous SX4 with a rugged off-road look that is given extra appeal thanks to the attractive 17-inch alloy wheels, bright ‘Boost Blue’ bodywork and silver roof rails – which are standard on the mid-range SZ4 trim and above.