Suzuki S-Cross long-term test

The S-Cross is one of the more grown-up and practical small SUVs, but does that make it an easy car to live with? We're finding out...

Suzuki S-Cross 2023 long term hello

The car Suzuki S-Cross 1.5 Full Hybrid Ultra 4W AGS Run by John Bradshaw, chief photographer

Why it’s here Hybrids often come into their own around town, and we want to find out if this one is as adept on laps of the M25 as it is on circuits of local ring roads.

Needs to be economical, especially on the motorway, and boast plenty of family friendly touches

Mileage 9130 Price £32,649 Target price £32,012 Price as tested £33,199  Test economy 48.8mpg Official economy 54.3mpg Dealer price now £26,002 Private price now £23,113 Running costs (excluding depreciation) Fuel £594

18 December 2023 – The journey of life

For a lot of motorists, travelling is all about the destination, and getting there with the least possible amount of fuss and bother. When I'm working to tight deadlines (and that's most of the time, these days), I fall into that latter camp, and in many ways, the Suzuki S-Cross perfectly fits the bill when it comes to no-nonsense transportation.

Suzuki S-Cross 2023 long-term test goodbye

It's a car you can just get in and drive, without pausing for a moment's thought; I can't remember driving a car with simpler, more user-friendly controls. Some would criticise Suzuki for not moving with the times more; the S-Cross has the interior look of a car from a few decades past. The counter-argument, though, is that it's escaped the silly complication that's recently become the norm.

There's a good old-fashioned button for virtually everything, and while you do need to use the touchscreen to set the in-drive entertainment to your liking, you've no obligation to go diving through menus. I've enjoyed all the adjustments I frequently need to make – such as changing the interior temperature – being just a button's press away.

One particularly notable button is the one marked "ECO", which I reckon is largely responsible for my car's average of 48.8mpg over the past few months. I think that real-world figure is exceptional in what is one of the bigger small SUVs, but you do pay a price for that frugality. 

While the S-Cross is no dragster (0-62mph takes 12.7sec), it's no sluggard from 0-30mph, so it's perfectly fine around town and, if you're not in a hurry, it's okay farther afield. Eco mode, though, dulls the hybrid system's response when you put your foot down, and takes a bit of patience to cope with. That said, the instant economy read-out on the dashboard suggests that fuel economy worsens sharply in Sport mode, so I kept it in Eco and learnt to live with the car's tardiness.

Suzuki S-Cross 2023 long-term test ECO

If that's what it takes to get almost 50mpg, though, that's alright by me. At any rate, the S-Cross suits driving at a relaxed pace. The ride settles down nicely on the motorway; it's not quite as plush as that of the rival Skoda Kamiq, but edges it over the Cupra Leon Estate I ran previously. It's not the quietest small SUV, though; the engine is a bit strident when pushed, and there's a fair amount of noise from the tyres, suspension and the wind as it passes the mirrors and front screen pillars. 

Suzuki S-Cross 2023 Long-Term test panoramic roof

Still, none of my passengers have ever complained about being short on room. If I set the driving seat to suit me, I can easily fit behind myself; I'm 5'10" and find no shortage of head room, front or rear, despite the S-Cross's panoramic sunroof. Six-footers will find things tight, though. The boot isn't bad, either, but I've been rather spoilt by the even bigger one in the Leon, and I miss the Ford Puma's huge underfloor storage vault.

Comparing the Puma with the S-Cross is an interesting thing to do; in top ST-Line Vignale trim, it's priced similarly to my Ultra-trim S-Cross, but it has a different set of priorities. It's certainly more fun to drive than the S-Cross, which certainly doesn't inspire me to leave the motorway and find a twistier route home. However, while the Puma feels like a tall hatchback, the S-Cross feels like more of a 'proper' SUV – and that's echoed in the fact that you can buy it in Allgrip four-wheel drive form.

Suzuki S-Cross long-term test outstanding in its field

Mine wasn't so equipped (if it was, the official fuel economy would drop to 48.7mpg from 54.3), but even so, its relatively high ground clearance meant that I never had any qualms about venturing onto terrain that would have made the Puma wince. And that's the S-Cross through and through. It's not glamorous, inside or out, nor is exciting to drive. It is, though, spectacularly easy to live with. Whatever journey you need to make, it's a sensible tool for the job, and f0r its simple, unpretentious efficiency, I reckon I'll miss it. 

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