SUZUKI is on top form at the moment. We’ve had the cracking little Ignis, the Swift that goes from strength to strength, the sell-out off-road icon that is the Jimny, and then a couple of Toyota clones that pad out its broad range.
And now they’ve launched a new version of their popular S-Cross. And it’s really rather good.
It feels a bit like the old S Cross outstayed its welcome. It was never much of a looker, but it was solid and sensible and proved popular as a result.
The new S-Cross, however, seems to be following the current audacious styling trend in small SUVs. While I wouldn’t say it’s particularly pretty, bold looks stand out regardless in this sector, so its distinctive lines should serve it well.
A similar thing can be said about the interior. While it lacks the quality feel of some of its rivals, it’s a much smarter layout, and it feels so much more modern.
There’s a healthy smattering of physical buttons, which is good, and the infotainment screen is good, if not the best. Visibility is excellent, however, as is cabin space, and there’s absolutely loads of equipment served up. But I’ll come back to that.
The new S-Cross has the same mild-hybrid as the outgoing version, and it’s fine. It does the job well. Don’t take the word “hybrid” to mean you can float around on a carpet of electricity – that is apparently on the way – but in this current guise it’s essentially a 48v extended stop/start system, which also compensates for a bit of turbo-lag.
Truth be told, you won’t really notice the mild-hybrid setup, but it does make for some excellent fuel economy. During a week of mainly urban runs, we comfortably topped 40pmg and 50mpg is no big stretch.
That’s all down to a familiar 1.4-litre petrol engine with 128bhp/173lb ft driving either the front or all four wheels, depending on spec, and it’s good for 120g/km of CO2 in the front-wheel-drive version.
Choosing your new S-Cross is a doddle. There’s only two trim levels; the Motion and the Ultra. The Motion starts at just £25,000 which, given its generous spec level puts its crosshairs firmly on sector giants like the Nissan Qashqai.
Even the plush Ultra with its four-wheel drive, panoramic roof, and trick camera system can be had for less than £30,000. So it’s good value for money all round.
There’s more good news when you take it for a drive, too. Its road manners are excellent, with neat steering and a sharp, lightweight feel in the corners. Couple this fine handling with its zesty engine and it’s actually surprisingly fun. Not something you’d usually think of with an SUV.
So here’s a car you could probably pick up for around £200 per month that has better spec than an equivalent Qashqai, better handling than a Qashqai, and arguably a better engine.
It’s quite obvious that Suzuki should have another success on its hands with the new S-Cross. Because what it lacks in a premium feel, it makes up for in sheer value for money.