SUV, anyone? We are awash with choices of compact/crossover SUVs at the moment. As someone who may be in the market for such a car, the S-Cross was pretty timely. I had just dropped off the Peugeot 2008 with its 1.2-litre turbo 3-cylinder engine, and then picked up the little Suzuki with its 1.4-litre turbo 4-cylinder engine.

On top of the Peugeot, while I had the S-Cross I shot up to Auckland to drive the all-new Toyota C-HR, which has a 1.2-litre, turbo 4-cylinder engine. This was going to be interesting.

The Range

There are 3 available models in the S-Cross range; the LTD 2WD at $29,990, the AWD LTD at $33,990, and the Prestige 2WD (tested) for the same $33,990.

The cruncher here is that only the Prestige model comes with the awesome 1.4 BoosterJet engine – the two LTD models come with the ‘old’ 1.6 non-turbo engine. All models are fitted with a 6-speed automatic, with no manual gearbox option.

Suzuki have done really well with the standard list of features for all models here; cruise control and speed limiter, gearbox paddles, keyless entry and start, dual zone climate AC, a 7” touchscreen display with built-in satnav, Apple CarPlay capability (but not Android Auto), reversing camera, Bluetooth of course, halogen projector headlamps, 17” alloy wheels, Hill Start Assist, and a tilt/telescoping steering wheel with controls for audio, cruise/limiter, voice control, and phone.

If you buy the AWD model, the only change is an ALLGRIP knob that lets you select Snow, Auto, Lock or Sports modes to give you some control over the AWD system.

For the same money as the AWD, the 2WD Prestige with the turbo engine gets quite a few more goodies. It adds auto-levelling LED Projector headlights, auto headlights and wipers, rear privacy glass, full leather interior, rear parking sensors, polished alloys, and LED tail lamps. You’d have to really want AWD to not get those goodies for the same price AND get the far better engine.

The other sell-point here is that currently while I’m writing this, Suzuki is doing a special on the Prestige for $31,990. That is a no-brainer over the 2WD LTD model and the AWD version.

First Impressions

Wow – the S-Cross is a lot more grown up than the SX4 it replaces. Still, it’s a nice looker, especially in the Canyon Bronze Pearl Metallic that our test car came in. I got lots of comments on the look of the car and the colour had lots to do with that.

The shark-ish grille had me thinking of the early Nissan Murano – bold, brash and shiny. But I got used to it quickly and somehow it does suit the car’s overall design. At first glance though, some people thought it looked a bit, uh, ugly (sorry, Suzuki).

The rear of the car doesn’t look too different – I fear that if the car was grey, it would look pretty boring, and the same as many other small SUVs on the market.

The Interior

While based on the same platform as Vitara, the S-Cross doesn’t seem that much bigger but the interior feels a lot wider. She’s pretty spacious inside as far as width goes, for a compact SUV.

Leg room in the front is great, while rear legroom is average, but still good. However, the middle rear seat passenger can be pretty squeezed up here on a long trip. My middle-seat teenage passenger in the rear did find it pretty cramped on a drive to Feilding, but not to the point of not wanting to get back into the car.

Sitting in the driver’s seat is a pleasant experience; controls generally fall to hand nicely, and surfaces you touch are on the whole very nice. Great to see gearbox paddles, which I ended up using quite a bit for that bit of extra engine braking.

The leather seats in the Prestige are excellent – I had to drive to Feilding and back twice in the S-Cross, with a full load of five each time. No one complained of the seats not being up to it, even though it was 4 lots of 2.5-hour trips.

Like so many cars, while the seats are all black, the pillars and headlining are an off-white, so this helps to lighten up the interior a bit.

Interesting that Suzuki have not put any front USB ports in; there’s a 12-volt socket in the front centre console, but there’s just one USB inside the cubby in the console behind the handbrake.

The leather steering wheel has a great feel to it, and the controls for audio etc are brilliantly done – simple, and easy to use without even thinking about it. Perfect sign of it done right.

Audio quality from the 6-speaker system is ok. Nothing special, just average.

The boot on the S-Cross is more than usable, bordering on very spacious. A handy feature is the false floor that can be lifted and then objects not more than say 100mm tall can be stored. Your other option is to lift the false floor out, and that allows a flat floor when the rear seats are folded down.

The Drive

I loved the BoosterJet engine in the Vitara – how would it translate into the S-Cross? Much the same, if not better. This 1.4-litre turbo power plant is quiet, smooth and powerful. And here’s the thing; it is ALWAYS these three things, no matter what your revs. After the 81Kw/205Nm Peugeot 2008 (which was has a great engine, but is often lumpy) the S-Cross was a delight. It has more power and torque than the 2008 (103Kw/220Nm), but is silky smooth along with it.

That’s not to say the 2008 has a bad engine – anything but – but it’s just so much more pleasing to drive the Suzuki, as far as smoothness goes.

And then there’s the all-new wildcard – the 85Kw/185Nm Toyota C-HR, which has a 1.2-litre 4-cylinder turbo petrol engine. I see a theme developing here in the compact SUV market. So the S-Cross is much smoother than the turbo Peugeot – how does it compare to the C-HR?

While I’ve only driven the CH-R for a day so far, it was extremely smooth too, probably more so even than the S-Cross, but it doesn’t have the same instant pick-up as the Suzuki.

The six-speed auto in the S-Cross is a great gearbox, crisp smooth changes at just the right time. But, my test car did have a little glitch where sometimes it would be a little jerky, with a shunt on the downshift. I expect it was just my test car that did this, and otherwise the gearbox was perfectly behaved.

So does it go that well? Yes. We had lots of wet weather while I had the car, and just that little bit extra on the gas pedal would easily spin the front wheels when starting off. I mentioned earlier on two 300Km trips I had to do in the S-Cross – with a fully loaded car of 5 people. Did I notice the extra weight? Barely. Even up hills, the gearbox would simply downshift early and use a few more revs to get you up any steep hills with ease. It really is that good.

Ride is very good, not quite up to the 2008 or the C-HR, but excellent all the same. In saying that, at low speeds it could get a little jiggly and sometimes hitting a bump on a corner would unsettle the car a bit. No dramas, but I could feel the car moving sideways a bit.

General handling of the car is very good – body roll is well checked, and you can chuck this car around a bit when you want to. Steering is good, and brakes are fine.

There is a little wind noise when on the motorway, but it’s not too bad. The main thing I noticed on most of the time was the road noise, especially on chip seal. The S-Cross has Continental tyres, but these didn’t help. I often found myself making sure all the windows were up – until I remembered that was the normal level of road noise. The road noise was the worst I’ve heard in a while, but keep in mind that these days it’s pretty rare to mention this at all, so not the end of the world for the S-Cross.

What’s it like day-to-day? With that engine, very easy to live with. There were a few niggly things, like the audio system that reverts to radio every time you turn the car off (arghh!). Like many people, I like to use my phone’s music via Bluetooth, but it’s annoying to have to select Bluetooth every time you want to use it. Visibility out of the car is superb – this is a great commuter car. Motorway lane changes are a breeze, even without Blind Spot Monitoring.

SatNav is dead easy to use, but I wish that Suzuki had put turn-by-turn instructions into the centre of the instruments, for the driver. Speaking of the instruments, there’s no digital speedo, which is a bummer. If a car has one, it’s the only one I use.

The touchscreen can be slow on pressing the buttons, but the display is crystal clear with high resolution; it’s extremely crisp and is exactly the same system as the Vitara.

Over 1,200kms, my test car averaged 6.0l/100km. This is almost exactly what Suzuki says the combined rating should be, but bear in mind probably 75% of my driving was on the open road. This figure is a full litre/100km less than the result I got from the smaller engined, 3-cylinder Peugeot.

The Competition

Toyota say that the Compact SUV market is one of the fastest growing segments. Looking at the amount of choices here, they may be onto something.

Brand / Model

(All FWD only)

Engine Power

Kw/Torque NM

0-100Km/h Fuel L/100km

(combined rating)

Price Highest to Lowest
Honda HR-V Sports 1.8-litre, 4-cylinder petrol 105/172 n/a 6.9 $39,990
Toyota C-HR 1.2-litre, 4-cylinder turbo petrol 85/185 11.0 6.4 $37,990
Kia Soul T-GDI 1.6-litre, 4-cylinder turbo petrol 150/265 n/a 6.9 $37,990
Ford Escape Ambiente 1.5-litre, 4-cylinder turbo petrol 134/240 n/a 7 $37,990
Skoda Yeti Monte Carlo 1.4-litre, 4-cylinder turbo petrol 92/200 8.9 5.8 $36,990
Holden Trax LTZ 1.4-litre, 4-cylinder turbo petrol 103/200 n/a 6.7 $36,990
Mitsubishi ASX XLS 2.0-litre, 4-cylinder petrol 112/200 n/a 7.6 $36,690
Citroen C4 Cactus 1.2-litre, 3-cylinder turbo petrol 81/205 9.3 4.7 $35,990
Renault Captur Dynamique 1.2-litre, 4-cylinder turbo petrol 88/190 10.9 5.4 $35,990
Peugeot 2008 Allure 1.2-litre, 3-cylinder turbo petrol 81/205 10.3 4.8 $34,990
Mazda CX-3 2.0-litre, 4-cylinder petrol 109/192 n/a 6.1 $34,695
Suzuki S-Cross 1.4-litre, 4-cylinder petrol turbo 103/220 8.7 5.9 $33,990
Nissan Juke 1.6-litre, 4-cylinder petrol 86/158 n/a 6.3 $31,990
SSangyong Tivoli Limited 1.6-litre, 4-cylinder petrol 94/160 n/a 7.2 $31,990

The Pros and Cons

Pros Cons
  • Engine smoothness, quietness
  • Fuel economy
  • Seats
  • Performance, even loaded up
  • Value for money
  • Visibility
  • Occasional transmission jerkiness on our test car
  • Road noise
  • No Android Auto capability
  • Front design a personal choice
  • Only a single USB port

What do we think of it?

Compared to the 2008, the S-Cross is far more refined. Compared to the C-HR, it’s a better performer. Then again, the 2008 is a real driver’s car as far as character goes – it has some.

The S-Cross is a great car, but doesn’t have that same character. Does that bother you? If not, then quite possibly the S-Cross is for you (and it’s cheaper).

And the C-HR? It’s a Toyota, and that will equal sales. But as mentioned, both the 2008 and S-Cross perform much better – but it’s time to do a bit of fence sitting; we have a C-HR coming up on review, I think it’s going to take more than one day’s driving to decide on a winner in the compact SUV wars. Watch this space.

The S-Cross is a great daily driver and commuter. I don’t think anyone would be unhappy with the S-Cross Prestige – it ticks lots of boxes, and does things it was designed to do almost perfectly.

4.5 chevrons


Vehicle Type Front engine, FWD Compact SUV
Starting Price $29,990
Tested Price $33,990 ($31,990)
Engine 1.4-litre, 4-cylinder turbo petrol
Transmission 6-speed automatic
0 – 100 kph, seconds 8.7
Fuel Economy, l/100km 5.9 (stated)

6.0 (real world)

Kerb Weight, Kg 1,195
Length x Width x Height, mm 4,300×1,785×1,585
Cargo Capacity, litres 440/875
Fuel Tank, litres 47
ANCAP Safety Ratings 5 Star
Warranty 3 year/100,000km warranty

Additional 2 year drivetrain warranty

5 years Roadside Assist

Previous article2017 Mazda CX-5 – launch and drive programme
Next articlePress Release: The all new 2018 Honda CR-V offers more… arriving July 2017  
Fred Alvrez
How on earth to start this? I've been car/bike/truck crazy since I was a teen. Like John, I had the obligatory Countach poster on the wall. I guess I'm more officially into classic and muscle cars than anything else - I currently have a '65 Sunbeam Tiger that left the factory the same day as I left the hospital as a newborn with my mother. How could I not buy that car? In 2016 my wife and I drove across the USA in a brand-new Dodge Challenger, and then shipped it home. You can read more on We did this again in 2019 in a 1990 Chev Corvette - you can read about that trip on DriveLife. I'm a driving instructor and an Observer for the Institute of Advanced Motorists - trying to do my bit to make our roads safer.


  1. I own the same model. I bought it 6 months ago. I always drive very carefully and I always try to drive as economically as possible. Believe me, this car needs at least 6.5l/100km of petrol. Furthermore, the automatic gearbox is quite a disappointment compared to the DSG in my Audi. The breaks are very noisy when driving with my foot on the pedal in traffic jams or each time I take my foot of the pedal when driving off… The dealership says it’s normal, but people keep telling they hear my the brakes of my car screech and I have never experienced this before. The radio is worth shit. Audio quality over USB or Bluetooth is ok but the reception of the radio is 2/5. At standstill in the dealership it was good but once the car starts moving it is like listening to AM instead of FM and although the publicity in my country told differently, it is not equipped with DAB which is going to the standard for every official radio station in my country within 2 years.

  2. HI Erwin
    Thanks for the comments. It’s great to hear feedback from someone who’s bought one.
    I know someone else who has purchased one, and they haven’t had any issues at all.
    Hopefully the dealership can get it all sorted for you.

  3. My wife and I just bought one. Will be coming in the next 2 weeks. We are confused about the leather seats. In some places it says leather and other places it says ‘leather type’ ? We can’t wait to get this car. We are waiting on tow bar and tinted windows. We are leaving behind our suzuki ignis which has been a very good car for us. Thank you for your review. We feel confident that we have made a good purchase after reading your review. Cheers

    • HI Thiago
      We get our information from Suzuki, so it’s best for you to chat to them directly re the ‘leather type’ to clarify. I’m sure you will love your S-Cross – it’s such a great motor, it really makes the car.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.