£14,999 - £24,349 Price range
49 - 68 MPG
The Suzuki SX4 S-Cross crossover has an unassuming body that hides a car that’s really rather brilliant – fun to punt about in and impressively grippy if you go for a four-wheel drive model. Nonetheless, it struggles to get noticed parked next to more adventurously styled rivals such as the Vauxhall Mokka X, Renault Captur, and Citroen Cactus.
A 2016 facelift aimed to change that but, sadly, the cheap-looking chrome grille and raised ride height serve only to give the Suzuki the appearance of a budget ‘90s SUV, and not a very attractive one.
Unlike the divisive exterior, the interior will struggle to evoke strong emotions of any kind – unimaginative at best, it does at least emit an air of durability and robustness. Passenger space up front is good and rear-seat occupants are well catered for, too.
Where the SX4 S-Cross surprises is out on the road. There the cheap exterior is proven to hide a gem of a chassis. Its steering is accurate and the suspension is both comfortable and well up to the task of keeping body lean in check. In fact, if Suzuki could make the S-Cross look as good as it goes it would be a far more compelling proposition.
The new 1.0-litre turbocharged petrol plays its part, too, displaying a level of enthusiasm that was always absent in the old model. It’ll be perfect for town driving, but if you want a little more spark the 1.4-litre petrol is an even better match. The 1.6-litre diesel, meanwhile, is the model to choose if you want cheap running costs.
Even entry-level models are well equipped and come with a multifunctional steering wheel, cruise control, alloy wheels, air-conditioning and heated door mirrors.
The S-Cross’s interior is as simple as it gets in this class, but that also leaves it devoid of design flair. Controls are logically laid out, a few carefully placed trim elements lift the ambience (though it’s still very grey) and everything works like you’d expect. The car’s infotainment system also draws praise, even if the graphics and layout seem as if they are from a slightly different era.
Suzuki SX-4 S-Cross passenger space
Reviewers say passenger room is splendid – something most families will be pleased to hear. The elevated driving position coupled with the large windows provide great all-round visibility while the seats are really comfortable. One option you might want to avoid is the two-piece glass sunroof. It lets welcome light into the cabin, but also robs you of headroom – not great for taller drivers.
Suzuki SX-4 S-Cross boot space
Boot space is decent, but 430 litres isn’t as much as some rivals offer. For comparison the Renault Captur has a 440-litre boot, while the Nissan Qashqai matches the Suzuki. The Skoda Yeti has a slightly less capacious boot at 416 litres.
Crossovers aren’t great driving machines, even if they’ve got pretty good at the basics over recent years. Suzuki rarely follows the herd though, and the S-Cross is no exception – it’s among the better-driving cars of its type. Whether it’s nicely judged control weights, accurate steering or decent levels of grip, the S-Cross fares well – a few go as far as to call it entertaining.
Does it have any vices? Just the one, really – several reviewers say the ride is quite firm and it can feel a little bouncy or crashy depending on the surface. Given the Qashqai’s excellent ride, the Suzuki could be better in this area. The beauty of the firm ride is that it endows the Suzuki with impressive handling.
In 2015 Suzuki added to the range with a twin-clutch gearbox (borrowed from Fiat) that’s an option on the top-of-the range diesel model. It’s £1,350 worth spending if you do a lot of town driving, providing swift and smooth shifts that make it feel thoroughly up to date. Choose to operate the system manually (via the steering-wheel-mounted paddles) and the gearbox responds quickly, but most of the time its better left in Drive.
We tested the new Boosterjet petrols and found them to be everything you expect from a small capacity turbocharged engine – plenty of performance but without excessive fuel costs.
Suzuki SX-4 S-Cross petrol engines
First up is the tiny 1.0-litre that makes 111hp which is easily enough to propel the small crossover around at a decent lick. Despite the loss of capacity, this three-cylinder has more pulling power than the 1.6-litre four-cylinder it replaces. It’s cleaner and more frugal too, and improves fuel consumption by 12% to 56.4mpg and makes for £30 annual road tax.
Should you want more power there’s the 1.4-litre turbo, making 140hp for 0-62mph in 10.2 seconds – eight-tenths quicker than the 1.0-litre model. That might not sound like much, but in the real world, the added torque means fewer gear changes and more relaxing progress. Running costs should be low, too, with 50mpg fuel economy and a road tax bill of £110.
Suzuki SX-4 S-Cross diesel engines
The diesel isn’t bad either. It can grumble a little on start-up but settles down at a cruise, and once it’s there it’s capable of returning impressive real-world economy numbers. Officially, fuel economy of more than 67mpg is possible, with correspondingly low vehicle tax of just £20 a year.
The CVT auto may deter them further, as it adds extra noise into the mix as you're working that engine. While a 50 mpg-plus economy figure isn't bad, the petrol probably isn't the best option here - look to the frugal diesel instead.
The 118 horsepower output isn't much to write home about, but "delivers a decent punch". While it "grumbles a bit" at idle, it also settles down at a cruise for reasonable refinement. Best of all, the 67 mpg on-paper economy doesn't seem unattainable - one review gets surprisingly close in real-world testing.
Every model comes with a generous seven airbags, stability control, a speed limiter, tyre-pressure monitoring and emergency brake assist, which automatically deploys maximum braking in the event of an emergency.
The car also has a body that is designed to protect pedestrians in the event of an accident.
Another Suzuki strong point. There are several trim levels – SZ3, SZ4, SZ-T and SZ-5. All come with plenty of kit as standard.
Suzuki SX-4 S-Cross SZ3
This being the entry-level trim it doesn’t get much kit, but all of it is really useful and makes living with the SX4 easier. There’s a multifunction steering wheel so you don’t need to take your hands off the wheel and the air-conditioning makes sure you are comfortable on long journeys. The alloys make it look more expensive than it is and the heated door mirrors are a godsend in the winter.
Suzuki SX-4 S-Cross SZ4
Go one level above the basic trim and you get bigger 17-inch alloys, climate control, roof rails, front fog lights, electrically folding door mirrors a leather-wrapped steering wheel and an upgraded stereo.
Suzuki SX-4 S-Cross SZ-T
The T in the SZ-T trim level stands for technology so it adds rear parking sensors with a rear-view camera that is handy in a relatively big car, satellite navigation, DAB digital radio and polished alloys to complete the trendy look.
Suzuki SX-4 S-Cross SZ5
The most expensive SX4 S-Cross has a more luxurious feel than models lower down the range. It comes with automatic wipers, LED lights, heated seats, leather upholstery, front parking sensors and that headroom-eating panoramic sunroof.
Suzuki has always put a lot of effort into making useful, all-weather vehicles. If you’d like your S-Cross to do the same then the AllGrip models are the ones to go for. All cost more than £20,000 but if you live in wetter, snowier climes you may appreciate the extra traction.
The SX4 S-Cross is best summed up by a line in Car magazine’s review – “It’s another solid Suzuki: easy to recommend, but nigh-on impossible to crave”. It’s a perfectly competent car and in terms of driving characteristics and economy, a very good one. But it’s not an exciting vehicle, even in a class whose bar is set rather low for excitement.
We’d suggest picking one of the cheaper diesel models and enjoying the neat handling, parsimonious engine and useful practicality.
Suzuki is primarily known for being ‘cheap and cheerful,’ but the SX4 S-Cross is better than that but without abandoning its good-value heritage.