Suzuki S-Cross long-term test: report 1

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 driving side

The car Suzuki S-Cross 1.5 Full Hybrid Ultra 4W AGS Run by Stuart Milne, digital editor

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 2724 Price £32,649 Target price £32,012 Price as tested £33,199 Official economy 48.7mpg Test economy 50.2mpg Options fitted Energetic Red metallic paint (£550)

21 August 2023 – Family holdall

It’s sometime in the 1990s. Southend seafront. About 8pm on a Saturday night. Rows of Ford Fiestas, Renault 5s and Vauxhall Novas are parked up alongside a lurid metallic green SUV with comically wide wheels and a white vinyl interior.

I’d been aware of Suzuki’s previous SUV, the SJ, but the minty model in front of me was quite unlike anything I’d seen before. In the look-at-me stakes that night, the Suzuki Vitara (its name I later found out) was in a class of one.

This 30-year-old memory came flashing back when I first clapped eyes on the latest Suzuki S-Cross. Not because of how much it reminded me of that lowered and widened Vitara – but because of how much it didn’t. In those three decades, Suzuki has become a whole lot more sensible. And so have I. So, will this latest SUV from Suzuki be as memorable?

suzuki s-cross opening sunroof

It’s something that I’ll discover in the coming months, but even in attractive Energetic Red paint the small SUV’s styling certainly falls on the conservative side among its rivals, such as the Ford Puma and Volkswagen T-Roc – both inside and out. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that, of course; plenty of buyers want no-fuss transport.

There’s little fuss when it comes to specifying an S-Cross, too. I selected mine in fully-loaded Ultra trim, for which the only factory option is £550 metallic paint. Everything else either comes as standard or is an accessory fitted at the dealership. That makes selecting your model exceptionally straightforward.

Only two trims are offered and both are well-appointed, although my Ultra adds a 360-degree camera, leather upholstery, an opening panoramic glass sunroof and a 9.0in touchscreen with sat nav fitted over and above the lower-spec Motion trim. Other niceties include heated front seats, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring, and bright LED head and tail lights. And while it might be an unpopular opinion, it’s also nice to see a more commonly-used USB-A socket, rather than the latest but far less ubiquitous USB-C type.

Suzuki S-Cross Long Term interior

All that tech is easy to use because, unlike some manufacturers, Suzuki isn’t afraid to fit big, chunky and clearly labelled buttons to its cars, even if they are a little scattered around the dashboard. Similarly, the instrument cluster isn’t festooned with data, providing refreshing clarity.

On the face of it, the £4800 premium you’ll pay for an Ultra model seems a big step for only a handful of extras, but it’s worth noting only the Ultra comes with an automatic gearbox. And the full hybrid version here is the only one equipped with four-wheel drive, which also includes snow, sport and off-road focused driving modes.

As yet, I’ve not had the opportunity to feel the benefit of all-wheel power, but the automatic gearbox is taking some of the strain out of the daily stop-start motorway commute, even if it does elicit a significant ‘nodding’ effect as it shuffles up through the gears under hard acceleration. Of equal dynamic frustration is the steering: while it’s light enough to make town driving easy, it’s devoid of any real sense of connection to the front wheels.

Suzuki S-Cross Ultra rear driving

Far better are the fuel economy figures, thanks to that hybrid setup, which marries a 1.5-litre petrol engine and electric motor for short all-electric bursts. My commute is a lengthy mix of flowing and jammed motorways, plus outer London congestion, so an early-days figure of 50.2mpg is encouraging, particularly as it betters the 48.7mpg official average. 

Perhaps the standout feature of the S-Cross, though, is the practicality on offer. It’s one of the longest small SUVs on sale, which means there’s plenty of space up front, and an extremely generous amount of leg room in the back. The rear seats are raised, and while that might rob adults of a little head room, it means my kids get a better view out. Couple that with the airy feel from the glass roof, and it’s already proving to be a hit on family days out.

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