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The Suzuki SX4 S-cross is the brand's first serious foray into the lower medium crossover segment.
Up against the runaway fleet success of the Nissan Qashqai, plus a growing number of cars in this popular crossover segment including the Hyundai ix35, Ford Kuga and Vauxhall Mokka, there's no doubt the Suzuki faces a tough challenge. The Qashqai sold 27,865 into the business market in 2012, while Suzuki predicts the SX4 S-cross will sell 5500 total units in its first full financial year, with 40% into fleet.
Still, the company is lauding the crossover as its first credible fleet car. For the SX4 S-cross that means low CO2 emissions, high mpg and ample boot space, as well as a fleet-specific trim, inspired by Nissan's N-tec spec on the Qashqai. The SZ-T trim includes 17-inch alloys, satnav, Bluetooth, reverse parking camera and sensors, DAB radio and cruise control.
The engine line-up is simple: there's a 120hp 1.6-litre petrol and a 120hp 1.6-litre diesel with the latter emitting 110g/km and offering 67.2mpg. Four-wheel drive is available on both drivetrains and there are SZ3, SZ4 and SZ5 trim levels existing alongside the SZ-T, which falls just below the SZ5 in terms of specification, as well as a four-wheel-drive option.
The entry-level petrol version in SZ3 trim starts at £14,999. Meanwhile, the biggest fleet model, the 1.6-litre diesel in middling SZ-T guise, will be around £19,749. That's notably cheaper than the benchmark of the segment, the Nissan Qashqai, and indeed, Suzuki says it has deliberately priced the car at 10% less than that model.
Cheap plastics haunt the interior, while headroom is an issue for taller drivers and passengers. However, the layout of the cabin, including controls, is logical, while the car also features a full-length glass sunroof.
The Suzuki is a mixed bag to drive. It has a comfortable driving position, with accurate steering and sharp gear changes. The engine is also punchier than a 120hp unit would suggest, giving plenty of power in all scenarios. The handling is unexpectedly good, offering decent agility and grip with little body roll around tight bends. However, ride comfort, which is sure to be a top priority for crossover buyers, is at the opposite end of the spectrum, with potholes and uneven surfaces creating intense crashes, particularly at the rear of the car.
Despite these problems, the SX4 S-cross looks set to be a valid fleet entry in the crossover market. Its price, high levels of equipment, large boot and impressive CO2 figure (which easily beats the rivals), means the car makes business sense for a number of fleets.