First Drive - Suzuki S-Cross

Suzuki has added the S-Cross to its crossover and SUV line-up in a bid to take on major rivals like the Kia Sportage and Toyota C-HR. In our first drive, we find out if it has what it takes.

The First Drive verdict: 3.5

Suzuki is on a roll, maintaining an average of around one and a half percent market share here in the UK. That’s good going given the pandemic, semiconductor chip shortage and everything else that’s going on. Plus the automaker will only have a full electric model in 2025, so it’s holding its own with various levels of hybridisation across its model line-up.

Its latest model is the new S-Cross which is built in Hungary and arrived in showrooms with prices starting at £24,999. It’s got its work cut out for it to take on the popular Kia Sportage, Peugeot 3008 and Toyota C-HR but it's a likeable thing. It could also nab some sales from models in Suzuki’s own stable, including the Vitara which recently gained a full hybrid version and possibly even from the slightly larger Across, a plug-in hybrid based on the Toyota Rav4.

Our first impression is of the top spec Ultra model, a 1.4 Boosterjet mild hybrid with AllGrip all-wheel drive that offers 129hp at 5,500rpm and 235Nm of torque between 2000-3000rpm. It’s a petrol, in fact everything's a petrol in Suzuki’s range these days and the pricing for the six-speed manual starts at £29,799, but add a little bit if you want an auto which will take the price to £31,149.



DESIGN - 3 out of 5

It has all the looks to satisfy the modern school run set and those who want something that looks both trendy and purposeful. It all looks good with a bit of plastic cladding on the sides to give it that pseudo off-road appeal too. In the case of the model we drove, that/’s not all pseudo though, because AllGrip translates into all-wheel drive which could prove useful for those with adventurous or sporty lifestyles. It’s not a design that is going to cause excitement in the supermarket car park, but it has a trustworthy look about it that is ideal for family transport and is reflected even more in its practical character.

PRACTICALITY - 4 out of 5

You've got a higher ride height than a regular hatchback with ground clearance of 175mm. The S-Cross measures around 4.3 metres in length and while it sits on the Suzuki Vitara platform, it does have a slightly longer wheelbase. This translates into lots of interior space, even providing ample legroom for adults in the back seats. It’s all very comfortable, with a good driving position, loads of storage and a maximum luggage capacity of 430 litres in standard form with the seats up. Fold them down and you have loads of room for that Saturday morning flat-pack purchase or piece of Salvage Hunters inspiration. The S-Cross definitely ticks the practicality box.

TECH - 3 out of 5

It has a fairly simple and modern touchscreen infotainment system that is well laid out and easy to use and has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. You don't get a digital dash like rivals such as the Nissan Qashqai, but you do have a digital trip computer that as well as the essentials also gives you a few things you really don't expect to find in a Suzuki crossover, like a G-force meter and a torque and brake meter. It's a bit of a fun gimmick to find in it and it's available in things like the regular Swift too. So there's a bit of tech, nothing like a wireless charging pad or anything like that, but you do have USB ports and all those bits and pieces that you need, as well as connectivity, DAB radio and so on. Tech also means safety and the S-Cross has blind spot assistance, autonomous emergency braking, active cruise control, rear cross traffic alert, traffic sign recognition and more. 

DRIVE - 4 out of 5

We’ve already said that this is a trustworthy crossover, but before we start using clichés like it’s the Labrador of cars, it’s a surprisingly good thing to drive. It has a really nice six-speed manual gearbox that’s eager to help you tap into the 235Nm of torque available. This might not seem that high but it will run in cruise control quite happily in sixth gear uphill in the majority of cases, so plenty of torque for this kind of car. We didn’t have a full family and their dog in it though, so will let you know when we have it for a bit longer how it copes with that. We’ll have to borrow a dog though.

The front end feels a little bit light on occasion and the steering is not going to give you much in the way of feedback, if you like that sort of thing. However, this is not a car for those people who expect to have a lot of communication between themselves, the car and the road. Instead, the steering is light, designed for urban commuting and it's perfect for the school run. 

Fuel consumption is claimed at a combined average of 47.8mpg, helped by the 48V mild hybrid system. Our initial drive returned a somewhat surprising figure of 17mpg, but after borrowing someone else’s right foot, we eventually settled on around 38mpg, 

Wind noise is good, even on a day when we had a bit of a storm. There’s a good level of ride comfort, a great responsive engine and it’s all very nice to drive.

VERDICT - 3.5 out of 5

It’s not the most exciting of crossovers in the market, but it doesn’t pretend to be either. That makes it a good, honest offering that ticks a surprisingly long list of boxes as a family vehicle. It looks decent, is well equipped, very practical and great value for money. Suzuki could well have a winner on its hands with this one.


Model driven: 1.4 BoosterJet Mild Hybrid AllGrip Ultra

Price: £29,999 (range starts at £24,999)

Engine: 1,373cc mild hybrid petrol

Transmission: Six-speed manual

Power: 129hp at 5,500rpm 

Torque: 235Nm at 2,000-3,000rpm

0-62mph: 10.2 seconds

Top speed: 121 mph

Combined economy: 47.8 mpg

CO2 emissions: 133g/km


Written by Mark Smyth