The original Suzuki SX4 was something of a trailblazer, offering pseudo-SUV looks for an affordable price 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, growing from around the size of a Nissan Juke to roughly the same size as a Qashqai. This has done wonders for boot space, with the Suzuki 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.
However, headroom isn't so impressive – at least in the versions we tried, which were all fitted with a two-piece glass sunroof. 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. Suzuki says that versions without the sunroof will offer around 3cm more headroom.
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.
What's the 2013 Suzuki SX4 S-Cross like to drive?
We tried the front-wheel-drive diesel, which is punchy enough through the mid-range, but runs out of puff quickly as the revs rise. The 118bhp engine is also rather boomy, although the six-speed manual gearbox that comes as standard with this engine is light and precise.
The new SX4 S-Cross is certainly more agile than a Nissan Qashqai, changing direction without much body roll and gripping reasonably well. The steering weights up consistently as you turn into bends but is very vague.
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.
Things improve at higher speeds, although wind noise becomes more of an issue the faster you go.
We've yet to try a four-wheel-drive version, although if the outgoing SX4 is anything to go by, this should be a capable off-roader.
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.
However, while it might be good value, it's let down by its bumpy ride, limited rear headroom and cheap-feeling cabin. If you can find the extra, the Qashqai and Yeti are more rounded family cars.
What Car? says...
Engine size 1.6-litre diesel
Price from £17,500 (est.)
Torque 236lb ft
0-62mph 12.0 seconds
Top speed 111mph
Fuel economy 67.2mpg