What Car? says...
Many of us get bigger as we get older, but not the Suzuki S-Cross small SUV. It's the same size as the original version of the car launched nearly a decade ago.
The newest S-Cross is different in other ways, though. As well as staying in trim, it's gained an ever-increasing roster of autonomous safety aids, and the two engines available both have hybrid engine technology.
And unlike many small SUVs, it's available with four-wheel drive to give you some extra traction to match the chunky looks. You don’t get any more ground clearance, though, so it's really only useful for slippery conditions and the least demanding of muddy farm tracks.
The model range is pretty straightforward, with just two trim levels to choose from.
If you go for entry-level Motion, you get front-wheel drive, while top-of-the-range Ultra includes AllGrip four-wheel drive. Likewise, Suzuki gives you a manual gearbox with the entry-level 1.4 mild-hybrid engine, and an automatic with the 1.5 hybrid.
The mild-hybrid S-Cross competes with the equivalent Ford Puma, Fiat 500X and Kia Stonic while the regular hybrid – which can travel short distances on electric power alone – mixes it with the Nissan Juke and Toyota Yaris Cross (which is also available with four-wheel drive).
It all sound fairly fuss-free, doesn’t it. But is that enough to help the Suzuki S-Cross beat the best small SUVs around?
Read on over the next few pages of this review to find out how we rate it for handling and performance, running costs, practicality and more. We'll also tell you which trim and engine combination we thing makes the most sense.
If you decide you want to buy an S-Cross – or any other new make and model of vehicle – you can find out how much you could save by searching our free What Car? New Car Deals pages, where you'll find the latest new small SUV deals.
Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
Engine, 0-60mph and gearbox
The Suzuki S-Cross’s 127bhp 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol engine has enough performance for anything from bumbling around town to merging on to a motorway. Officially, in two-wheel-drive guise, it’ll get from 0-62mph in 9.5sec, which is about half a second faster than the equivalent Skoda Kamiq. With AllGrip four-wheel drive, it slows to 10.2 seconds.
The 113bhp 1.5-litre hybrid has a 0-62mph time of 12.7sec (13.5sec in AllGrip form), so it's not as quick as the 1.4, or the Nissan Juke or Toyota Yaris Cross. You can shuffle around in an electric-only mode, but as with those rivals, the battery (0.8kWh) isn't big enough to cover any great distance that way. If you want to do more near-silent electric driving, look at the plug-in hybrid (PHEV) Renault Captur – that can manage roughly 30 miles.
Unless you really must have an automatic gearbox, we’d pick the more reasonably priced 1.4-litre engine and enjoy the extra performance it gives the S-Cross.
Suspension and ride comfort
The suspension set-up on the S-Cross is on the soft side, so there’s a fair amount of pitch and lean when cornering or driving on undulating roads.
The upside of that softness is that the ride is generally quite comfortable because it’s good at smoothing out the worst of the bumps and ruts around town, and settles nicely on a motorway. Expansion joints can send a heavy thump and shiver through the car at speed, though, and there’s quite a bit of noise from the suspension too.
The S-Cross is a little uninspiring to drive in comparison with the Ford Puma and other small SUVs that have raised the bar for handling. That’s not to say it's bad, though: its light steering makes easy work of low-speed manoeuvres, and it feels stable on a motorway.
What it lacks is a feeling of being involved in the process of driving, and there’s very little sense of connection through the steering. It also begins to lose front-end grip and gradually wash wide in corners at lower speeds than the Puma and other rivals.
The AllGrip four-wheel drive system will give you more security on loose or greasy surfaces. Its extra traction will also help when towing, but it doesn't make the car any more fun to drive.
Noise and vibration
You’ll hear a bit of a rasp from both engines once they chime in, and they can be very coarse and boomy when revved hard. The 1.4-litre version's additional performance means there’s less need to stretch it than the 1.5, and its mild-hybrid system helps to reduce vibration and noise when starting the engine.
The 1.5 S-Cross uses the same automated manual gearbox as the Suzuki Vitara Hybrid, and under hard acceleration that leads to a significant ‘nodding’ sensation as the gearbox goes up through the gears. The S-Cross's box changes down much more quickly than the Vitara's, making overtaking easier. It’s best driven in Sport mode because that speeds up the responses from the accelerator and kicks the engine in sooner when setting off at traffic lights: Eco mode is excruciatingly slow in that situation.
There's quite a lot of tyre and wind noise at motorway speeds – the T-Roc and others offer a more peaceful drive.
The interior layout, fit and finish
Driving position and dashboard
Taking a seat in the Suzuki S-Cross, you’ll instantly notice that the layout is simple, with the infotainment screen nice and high on the dashboard and physical controls for the dual-zone air conditioning positioned lower down. Ultra models with four-wheel drive also have a dial to change driving modes (Normal, Sport and Snow) conveniently placed next to the handbrake.
The pedals line up well with the driver’s seat, the steering wheel adjusts for reach and rake, and every model provides driver’s seat-height adjustment and a centre armrest. The backrest is adjusted using a lever and can’t provide such precise adjustment as the wheels provided in many rivals. Electric seat adjustment isn’t available.
Ultra trim’s part-leather seats are comfortable, but it’s a shame they don’t offer more side support and that adjustable lumbar support adjustment isn’t available. That’s something that comes as an option on many rivals and is standard on the similarly priced Toyota Yaris Cross in Excel trim.
Visibility, parking sensors and cameras
The S-Cross’s tall, wide windscreen and slim front pillars make seeing forwards over the bonnet easy. The generous front side windows help you see out at junctions and roundabouts, too.
The view over your shoulder is good too, thanks to a reasonably large rear windscreen and rear pillars that aren’t too chunky. To aid with parking, front and rear parking sensors and a rear-view camera are standard across the range. You have to add a rear-view camera as an option on the VW T-Cross and VW T-Roc. Top-level Ultra trim also bringing a 360-degree parking camera.
Visibility shouldn't be a problem, thanks to the automatic windscreen wipers and auto LED headlights that come as standard on both trim levels.
Sat nav and infotainment
The S-Cross's entry-level Motion trim comes with a 7in touchscreen infotainment system, while Ultra upgrades the screen to 9in. Both systems include DAB radio, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone mirroring (so you can use your phone’s apps for navigation and music on the touchscreen) and Bluetooth. Built-in sat-nav is only available with Ultra trim.
We’ve yet to try the smaller screen, but the 9in screen is crisp and shows information clearly. However, while the graphics are good, the delay between your inputs and the system’s reaction certainly isn’t. It gets frustrating when you need to find a location or simply change menus.
The system is almost entirely touchscreen-controlled, with a few touch-sensitive shortcut buttons at the bottom of the screen. That makes operating it on the move much more distracting than if there were more physical controls.
While the S-Cross’s dash layout is easy to use and the few switches are nicely damped, it's a very plain and drab-looking cabin. There are lots of scratchy, brittle-feeling materials even in areas that you touch a lot.
Top-spec Ultra trim does help to improve the feeling of quality by replacing the standard cloth seats with part-leather ones, but it’s still a long way short of the Skoda Kamiq. Everything is screwed together well, at least.
Passenger & boot space
How it copes with people and clutter
Even very tall people will have enough room in the front seats of the Suzuki S-Cross. There’s lots of head and leg room, even on Ultra models with the standard panoramic sunroof, which lowers the ceiling slightly.
The front doors have pockets that’ll accept litre water bottles and a few small items. Between the driver and front passenger, there are two cupholders and a large cubbyhole with a flip-up armrest.
Just in front of the gearlever is another large cubby that’s ideal for storing wallets, keys, mobile phones and other items. There’s a decent amount of storage space in the S-Cross’s glovebox, too. The front seats are set quite high, so getting in and out should present few problems, thanks to wide, tall door apertures.
The back seats in the S-Cross are set higher than the front ones, so head room is rather limited. It's worse with Ultra trim’s panoramic roof fitted, and anyone approaching six feet tall will find their head touching the roof lining.
Fortunately, the S-Cross is one of the longest small SUVs around, so leg room is just as generous as in the Kamiq. Shoulder room is also good for the class, so it’s no problem for two adults to sit comfortably, although three passengers side by side will find it a squeeze. The S-Cross has a pronounced floor hump for the middle passenger to straddle, though.
Storage wise, each rear door has a space for a large bottle of water. Otherwise, the only other space to store things is in the handy map pocket that’s on the back of the front passenger seat. When you don’t have a middle-seat passenger, an armrest with two cupholders can be folded down out of the middle seat.
Seat folding and flexibility
The rear seatbacks split in a 60/40 configuration and you can fold them down by pushing buttons next to the head restraints. This can be done quite easily with one hand because the seatbacks aren’t particularly heavy or stiff.
You can recline the rear seatbacks slightly for a more laid-back seating position, a handy feature not usually found in small SUVs. Even with that feature it can’t beat the Renault Captur – that has sliding rear seats so you can prioritise leg room or boot space.
The 1.4-litre mild-hybrid S-Cross's boot is a generous 430 litres, beating the Skoda Kamiq but not matching the vast chasms offered by the Ford Puma. Even so, it should swallow a big shop, and the wide boot opening makes loading items a doddle.
To make loading large items easier, the adjustable boot floor can be raised so that it lines up with the boot lip, and when the backs of the rear seats are folded down, it makes the whole area flat. The boot is square, with a deep cubbyhole on either side. There’s also a removable luggage cover to keep valuables out of sight and various hooks for tying things down or for luggage nets.
The 1.5-litre hybrid version isn’t nearly as generous because the battery pack raises the boot floor, robbing you of some capacity. Other hybrid rivals, such as the Nissan Juke and Toyota Yaris Cross offer more space despite their batteries.
Buying & owning
Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is
Costs, insurance groups, MPG and CO2
The Suzuki S-Cross is one of the biggest small SUVs around, which is perhaps why its starting price is higher than premium offerings, such as the Audi Q2. When looked at it as a hybrid choice, things start to look up. The S-Cross hybrid undercuts the Nissan Juke Hybrid and a similarly-specced Toyota Yaris Cross.
Unlike the previous Suzuki S-Cross, this latest S-Cross is predicted to depreciate fairly slowly compared with some of the best in class – especially against the Yaris Cross. That also means that PCP prices will remain competitive, making it a good option for private buyers. See our New Car Deals pages for the best prices.
So far, we’ve only True MPG tested a four-wheel-drive mild-hybrid 1.4-litre S-Cross. The 39.8mpg result is somewhat shy of the mid-40s it is rated to get, but similar to other four-wheel drive models. Even so, the mid-50s figure of the front-wheel-drive model isn’t as good as the 60mpg number from the Yaris Cross, which also has a lower CO2 figure, putting it in a cheaper company car tax bracket. Of course, neither have as low a CO2 number as a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) such as the Renault Captur or an electric alternative such as the Peugeot e-2008.
Equipment, options and extras
The simple S-Cross range means that you only have two trim levels to choose from – Motion or Ultra – and both come well equipped.
Even the entry-level Motion has 17in alloy wheels, keyless entry and start, blind-spot monitoring, roof rails, adaptive cruise control, heated seats and parking sensors.
Upgrading to Ultra trim adds part-leather seats, the large panoramic sunroof, built-in sat-nav and the handy 360-degree parking camera.
The S-Cross (under its previous name of Suzuki SX4 S-Cross) came a very credible ninth place finish out of 25 small SUVs in the 2022 What Car? Reliability Survey. Suzuki as a brand finished an impressive joint fifth (with Hyundai) out of 32 manufacturers.
All Suzuki cars come with a 14-day money-back guarantee and a three-year/60,000-mile warranty. That’s on a par with the Peugeot 2008 and Skoda Kamiq offering, but can't match the seven-year warranty you’ll get with a Kia Stonic.
Safety and security
The S-Cross is yet to be tested by Euro NCAP for safety but the level of safety equipment that comes as standard is encouraging.
You get essentials including automatic emergency braking (AEB) and lots of airbags, plus a blind-spot warning, lane-keeping assistance and intervention, and traffic-sign recognition. That’s a longer list of safety kit than most rivals offer.
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Yes, the S-Cross is available with four-wheel drive. The Allgrip system is most useful as a traction aid on slippery roads – there's not a huge amount of ground clearance for clambering over obstacles off road. Read more here
It depends what your priorities are for a small SUV. If rear leg space, lots of standard safety tech and strong reliability are what you’re after, the S-Cross is a good car. If you want a refined driving experience, an easy-to-use infotainment screen and a big boot, there are better options. Read more here
The S-Cross is selling, but Suzuki could sell more if it could get hold of enough computer chips. Like many car manufacturers, its production has been affected by worldwide shortages. Read more here
Pretty reliable, yes. In the 2022 What Car? Reliability Survey, the S-Cross came ninth out of 25 small SUVs, while Suzuki shared joint fifth place out of 32 manufacturers with Hyundai. Read more here
|RRP price range||£26,099 - £32,649|
|Number of trims (see all)||2|
|Number of engines (see all)||2|
|Available fuel types (which is best for you?)||hybrid, petrol|
|MPG range across all versions||47.8 - 54.3|
|Available doors options||5|
|Warranty||3 years / 60000 miles|
|Company car tax at 20% (min/max)||£1,447 / £1,941|
|Company car tax at 40% (min/max)||£2,895 / £3,882|