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Suzuki finally comes up with an S-Cross that people might actually want to be seen in.
17in alloys, remote entry with push-button start, dual-zone climate control, heated front seats, adaptive cruise control, auto emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, lane departure prevention, traffic sign recognition, rear cross-traffic alert, four electric windows, electrically adjustable mirrors, smartphone compatibility, Apple Carplay, Android Auto, 7in touchscreen, rear parking camera, front and rear parking sensors
Petrol mild hybrid:
Six-speed manual, six-speed automatic
Up until now, if you'd walked into any Suzuki dealership, you'd have been greeted by a shiny array of brightly coloured Vitaras and rows of perky Swift superminis. If you happened to enquire about any other models, chances are you'd have been marched to the darker recesses of the showroom and begrudgingly shown a couple of dusty S-Cross models.
We're not saying the previous S-Cross was a blight on the landscape, but it certainly wasn't a looker, so it comes as no surprise that Suzuki has amended matters by ditching the former manically toothy chromed grille and etch-a-sketch profile in favour of an entirely new facade.
As well as more contemporary looks, almost every aspect of the S-Cross has been scrutinised and upgraded. With a comprehensive equipment uplift, even the base Motion model now features posh car features, such as heated seats, cruise control, dual-zone air-conditioning, keyless entry and start-up, the latest smartphone connectivity and an entire arsenal of safety kit.
Being a Suzuki, the S-Cross is also very light on its wheels and powered by the latest generation of turbocharged Boosterjet engines, it is particularly easy on unleaded, with a claimed 53.2mpg combined fuel economy for the manual gearbox, front-wheel-drive versions. Given the increasing tax implication for 2022-23, however, the 120g/km CO2 emissions produced mean it still falls into a rather hefty 29% BIK category.
Some of this fiscal pain will be offset by the affordable £24,999 starter price, and the more you drive the S-Cross, the more you'll be inclined to think it's a bit of a bargain.
The 1.4-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine works in tandem with a lithium battery and a 48-volt electric system, which powers a starter-generator to boost low-end acceleration and smooth out start-stop events. In practice, these motivators provide a smooth and flexible power delivery, which is at its best when linked to the slick-shifting six-speed manual gearbox. Things aren't quite as well resolved when coupled to the optional £1,350 six-speed automatic, as the shifts are a bit abrupt, and they also create a fair bit of shudder through the cabin.
The S-Cross's inherent lightness does mean it is an agile little fella, capable of effortlessly scrubbing off speed and breezing through a dual carriageway roundabout with some aplomb. It's just a shame the steering lacks any meaningful connection to complement the inherent agility. This said, vertical body movements are admirably well-controlled with just a wee bit of underlying fidget taking the edge off the overall comfort.
Things aren't quite as accomplished when trawling up drafty motorways, but this is more to do with the high levels of audible disturbances rather than any comfort shortcomings. With lots of road noise penetrating the cabin via the wheel arches, this unruly element will prove particularly tiresome on longer journeys.
Although the interior has also come in for an upgrade, including a new touchscreen, refreshingly, the dash layout and switchgear remain as complicated to use as a knife and fork. Things aren't exactly palatial, however, or particularly easy on the eye, thanks to swathes of hard, shiny plastics and some pretty questionable trim materials. Additionally, the narrow front seats aren't the most comfortable and because there is no vertical adjustment for the front passenger's seat, your companion will sit with his or her head uncomfortably close to the headlining. If you plump for the top end Ultra version, which comes with a standard panoramic sunroof, then rear passengers will be subjected to the same sort of abuse, but at least there's a reasonable amount of legroom, which will allow them to adopt a slouched posture to help avoid any excessive barnet brushing.
At 430 litres, the boot is not exactly huge but it's a neat, square, shape and because it has a removable floor, which can be set at different heights, once the rear seats are folded, it is a simple task to create a level load bay.
Perhaps the greatest gains made by the latest S-Cross are in the looks department and coupled with the affordable sticker price and flexible powertrain, we reckon these gains should be sufficient to guarantee the S-Cross a front and centre position in Suzuki's showrooms come 2022.