The original Suzuki SX4 was something of a trailblazer, offering pseudo-SUV looks for an affordable price long before big-selling models such as the Nissan Qashqai and Skoda Yeti arrived to steal the limelight.
However, the reality is this all-new version (now called the SX4 S-Cross), is entering a market that's never been more competitive; not only will it have to steal sales from the Qashqai and Yeti, it'll also have to compete with newer models, including the Vauxhall Mokka.
What's the 2013 Suzuki SX4 S-Cross like inside?
The new SX4 S-Cross is a much bigger car than the one it replaces. Whereas it used to be around the size of the Nissan Juke, it's now roughly the same size as a Qashqai. This has increased boot space to the point where the Suzuki is now able to swallow more luggage than all of its key rivals.
Better still, the false boot floor fitted as standard to all versions irons out any step that would otherwise be left when the rear seats are folded, and means the entry point of the boot is flush with the floor of the load bay.
Headroom is also fine, as long as you avoid models fitted with the two-piece glass sunroof, which cuts down the available space. Tall drivers may find their heads brush the ceiling, and things are even worse in the back, where anyone approaching six feet tall will have to crouch to fit - it's best to skip the sunroof altogether.
The SX4 S-Cross's cabin materials aren't exactly plush, with rather too many hard and scratchy plastics on the centre console and on the door inserts. That said, a Nissan Qashqai isn't the last word in interior quality, either. The Suzuki's dashboard is easy to get your head around, but the separated radio and climate controls layout feels dated.
Furthermore, the driving position is good, with comfortable, supportive seats and excellent forward visibility, and even the entry-level SZ3 model comes with 16-inch alloys, air-conditioning, cruise control, front and rear electric windows, heated door mirrors and a USB socket.
SZ4 trim adds 17-inch wheels, extra body protection, front foglights, climate control, Bluetooth and keyless entry, while SZT cars also get sat-nav, a reversing camera, rear parking sensors and polished alloys.
Range-topping SZ5 models adds LED daytime running lights, a panoramic roof, front parking sensors and automatic headlamps and wipers.
What's the 2013 Suzuki SX4 S-Cross like to drive?
The front-wheel-drive diesel pulls hard from just 1300rpm, giving excellent in-gear flexibility. However, the 118bhp engine is rather boomy, and the six-speed manual gearbox that comes as standard with this engine is a bit vague.
The five-speed manual petrol gets the same precise gearshift, but has less than half the torque of the diesel, and it feels like it on the road. You have to work the engine hard to make decent progress, which requires frequent downchanges, and although it pulls strongly and smoothly from 3000rpm, by then there's lots of engine noise in the cabin.
SX4s with the automatic CVT gearbox (SZ5 petrol models only) suffer from the same noise problem. Left to its own devices, the engine is allowed to rev hard and hangs on to those high revs for too long; however, using the wheel-mounted paddles to move through the seven set ratios keeps the noise under some control.
Suzuki's optional ALLGRIP four-wheel-drive system is also available on the more expensive trims on both engines and gearboxes. In auto mode, power is sent to the rear wheels only when needed, leaving the front wheels to do the majority of the work. Switching to Snow mode engages four-wheel drive, leaving the system to decide where the most grip is, and therefore where the most power is needed. Sport mode alters the car's throttle characteristics, while Lock can only be engaged at lower speeds and sends more torque to the rear wheels, intended for more heavy-duty use in mud or snow.
The new S-Cross is certainly more agile than a Nissan Qashqai, changing direction without much body roll and gripping well, especially with the four-wheel-drive system fitted. Whichever model you buy, the steering is accurate and weights up consistently as you turn into bends.
However, handling is less important than comfort in a car like this, and the new SX4 S-Cross doesn't do the latter particularly well. Poor damping – particularly at the rear – causes the car to thump and crash over the UK’s pothole-ridden roads in town.
Despite having the same suspension, the heavier ALLGRIP models round off bumps slightly better. Things also improve at higher speeds, although wind noise becomes more of an issue at higher speeds.
Should I buy one?
Prices start at £14,999, with the two-wheel-drive diesel (predicted to be the biggest seller) costing from £16,999. That makes the new SX4 S-Cross considerably cheaper than a Qashqai, and it's better equipped than a similarly priced Yeti, too.
The two-wheel-drive diesel also emits less CO2 than both of these rivals, making the SX4 S-Cross a tempting choice for company car drivers. In fact, in the right trim the manual diesel is worthy of four stars.
However, while it might be good value, the S-Cross is let down by a bumpy ride, limited rear headroom and cheap-feeling cabin.
What Car? says…
Engine size 1.6-litre diesel
Price from £16,999
Torque 236lb ft
0-62mph 12.0 seconds
Top speed 111mph
Fuel economy 67.2mpg
CO2 emissions 110g/km
Engine size 1.6-litre petrol
Price from £14,999
Torque 115lb ft
0-62mph 11.0 seconds
Top speed 108mph
Fuel economy 51.3mpg
CO2 emissions 127g/km