Most crossovers are a misrepresentation. Why? Because they don’t offer four-wheel-drive even though they draw half of their inspiration from off-roaders. Not so the S-Cross from Suzuki. Entirely new for 2022, this two-model Japanese car is also unique because it is sold exclusively as a hybrid.

S-CROSS: WHAT’S NEW FOR 2022

The previous S-Cross was pretty much a non-starter in the styling stakes compared to the likes of the Nissan Qashqai, Skoda Kamiq and Ford Puma. With that criticism ringing in their ears, those working in Suzuki’s design department were set the task of creating a “powerful and bold” look. From certain stances it has some Dacia DNA, with this especially true of the angled LED headlamps. A big grille dominated by the Suzuki badge also features chrome inserts while lower down there is the customary fake skid plate and plastic cladding for the bumper’s outer edges and wheel arches. At the rear, tail-lights reminiscent of those on the Peugeot 2008 are joined by a black bar and a general profile not too dissimilar to the out-going Kia Niro. As for choice, the S-Cross is sold in ‘Motion’ which starts at £24,999 and rises to over £30,000 for ‘Ultra’ spec if an automatic transmission is requested.

MORE BANG FOR YOUR BUCK

Suzuki prides itself on offering feature-packed cars at affordable prices and that applies to the S-Cross. Alloy wheels, aluminium roof rails, rear privacy glass, front and rear parking sensors, a rear parking camera, heated front seats and keyless start/stop are all standard as is a 7-inch colour touchscreen that grows to 9-inches on ‘Ultra’ versions. You can also expect satellite navigation on these models along with seats and door trim that are finished in a synthetic leather. As for cabin layout, it is going to be familiar to existing S-Cross owners as the vast majority of the knobs, buttons and switches have been carried over wholesale. There are some squidgy surfaces but most plastics – even those at eye level – are hard. What is different is the multimedia system; mounted as if floating – and framed in silver – the software and graphics are a huge leap forward on before. That said, we did experience occasional freezing and frustratingly slow response times to inputs.

THE SPACE RACE

S-Cross buyers are promised an interior “packed with a variety of appealing features for five adults with ample luggage space too”. At 4.3 metres long it equals the Peugeot 2008 which, itself, is not the most accommodating family car on the market. Like most options in this class, five adults and their bags will be able to squeeze into the S-Cross but it is better suited for two across the rear bench as they get individually reclinable seat backs as well as ample foot space, leg and shoulder room. Head room for taller passengers – especially with the full-length panoramic sunroof – is a tad neat. As for the height adjustable cargo area that totals a reasonable 430-litres, the load lip is positioned at a nice height and that makes it easy to load or unload items. In addition, you will find two anchor points and a 12-volt socket – ideal for powering a handheld vacuum cleaner to clean up any hair traces your furry friend might have left on your days out together.

A LOOK UNDER THE BONNET

Mild hybrid assistance is at play in both S-Cross models in the guise of a 48-volt battery that recovers energy under braking before deploying this as you step on the gas. You don’t have the ability to adjust the regenerative braking levels as some rivals do, though drivers are going to feel it at work as they ease off the accelerator pedal. The 1.4-litre, four cylinder ‘BoosterJet’ petrol can be paired to either a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic; we sampled the latter and were impressed at how smooth and decisive it was over a week’s worth of motoring. A power output of 127bhp equals adequate performance and amounts to a 0-62mph time of 9.5 seconds in front-wheel-drive guise and 10.2 seconds if Suzuki’s ‘All Grip’ four-wheel-drive system is chosen. Refinement is very good as the motor is hushed engine, and a good helping of sound deadening materials in and around the footwells cuts down on tyre and wind noise.

ENJOYABLE TO DRIVE

Crossovers are not built to stir the senses behind the wheel – and the latest S-Cross is no different in this respect. However, what you will find pretty quickly is a nicely damped family car that competently deals with all of the usual challenges and bug bears motorists have to contend with on a daily basis out on the open road. The components underpinning the S-Cross have been thoroughly reworked, says Suzuki, and on this evidence it is hard to disagree because the way it handles is a marked improvement on its predecessor. AllGrip’ – a system that continuously shuffles torque between the front and rear wheels when slip is detected – has a hand in this. Programmed for normal, sport or snow driving, and operated via a small rotary dial on the lower console, it guarantees steadfast traction. One other neat feature is the ‘lock’ function. Press this button and on mud or sandy surfaces the limited slip differential brakes any slipping wheels and transfers torque to those that have traction.

PROS & CONS

+ Smooth and quiet engine
+ High equipment count
+ Good value for money
Cabin plastics disappoint
Rivals are roomier
Ultra spec is only 4WD

MULTIMEDIA: Measuring 9-inches in ‘Motion’ trim and 11-inches in ‘Ultra’ spec, the software on this new system brings it closer to class rivals than before. Those not keen on it do have the ability to bypass it as Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are standard. While the graphics are sharp and the screen is set at a nice height, pressing icons multiple times before anything happens was all too common an occurrence for us.

DRIVING: Respectably fast, efficient and calm at motorway speeds, Suzuki’s 1.4-litre petrol motor is a good all-rounder while the automatic transmission shifts quickly and is not easily fooled. As the suspension is softly sprung, pitch and lean is one drawback but driven sensibly, and with controlled inputs through the fairly neutral-feeling steering, this can be prevented.

INTERIOR: On the inside, the old S-Cross and the new model are a mirror image as Suzuki has lifted over lots of parts – from the steering wheel to the air conditioning controls – unchanged. Even the door panels and glovebox are reused. The driver binnacle is nicely presented making it clear to decipher on the move and marries a 4.2-inch LCD information display with two large silver ringed dials for speed and revs.

PRACTICALITY: Prospective buyers won’t be left short-changed when it comes to total space in the front and the back, finding places to store everyday items, or charging electronic devices on the move. Access to the boot requires you to lift a sizeable – and weighty – tail-gate but once out of the way a moveable boot floor, anchor points, bag hook and deep cubby holes on either side reveal themselves.

SPECIFICATION

Price: £31,699 (as tested)
Engine: 1.4-litre, 4cyl turbo petrol MHEV
Power/torque: 127bhp/173lb ft
Transmission: 6-speed automatic, four-wheel-drive
0-62mph: 10.2 seconds
Top speed: 121mph
Economy/CO2: 46.3mpg/139g/Km

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