A family car

Saturday, 13 January 2018

Despite the changes the new Maruti Suzuki S-Cross may not look an SUV, but is attractively priced and makes for easy city driving.

Maruti Suzuki has given the S-Cross a new lease of life. The vehicle boasts of a new face, a host of tweaks and a mild-hybrid system. Attention is drawn to the muscular new bonnet with strong character lines. The big development, however, is the large, toothy grille with prominent chrome slats. If the new head lamps look classy, and give a feeling that they have been inspired by those of the earlier generation BMW cars, it is only the top-spec S-Cross that gets LED projector lights and LED daytime running lights. The lower three variants make do with halogen lamps. 

The bumper looks striking too, and is all new, and helps enhance the vehicle’s road presence. Sides see hardly any changes. The 16-inch dia alloys look attractive and the rear LED tail lamps are new too. 

Not super luxurious 
The changes, however, have not helped the S-Cross to get away from its estate-ish stance and adorn an SUV-ish stance. The interior too looks familiar. Though there has been an increase in the number of soft-touch materials, the overall feel, however, stops short of giving a luxury feel typical of cars in the same bracket. The two top-spec variants use a new high gloss black. They also get satin-polished chrome trim. The top-spec S-Cross flaunts leather upholstery. 

The front seats are comfortable and supportive. The steering is adjustable for rake and reach. Split 60:40, the rear seat is spacious and provides good comfort. 

The boot offers 375-litre worth of space, and includes an additional 12V power outlet. For more storage space, the split rear seat can be folded flat. The list of equipment on the top-spec S-Cross includes auto head lamps, rain-sensing wipers, cruise control, dual airbags, ABS, and more. 

City driving is easy  
The choice of engine has been limited to just one diesel engine unlike before. The 1.3-litre common-rail turbo-diesel engine produces 90bhp and 200Nm of peak torque. Transmission is a five-speed manual unit. Good NVH levels make for a quiet drive. An amount of engine noise does filter into the cabin as the revs rise beyond 3000rpm, but the S-cross puts out a good performance. The engine feels adequate for normal driving.

Good gearing makes city driving easy. A lack of lower end pull could be attributed to the turbo lag. Cruising at good speed on the highway, the call for a quick rise in power to overtake at highway speeds may give the impression of the engine running out of breath.  

High ground clearance
The mild-hybrid set-up offers a mild torque-assist function. Claimed to boost efficiency to the tune of seven-per cent and reduce CO2 emissions, the mild-hybrid set-up also supports start-stop and brake energy regeneration. Ride over less than ideal roads is good. Supported by good ground clearance, the ride is supple overall. Providing a feeling of being well planted, the S-Cross displays very good high-speed behaviour. Striking a good balance between ride and handling, the vehicle stays planted even at triple-digit speeds. It tackles corners without much roll, and inspires confidence. 

The tyres of this car have more grip than those on the earlier model and contribute to the handling. The steering has a good feel. It may feel slightly light and vague at the centre, but weighs decently. The all-round disc brakes exert a strong bite and help the vehicle shed speed quickly under a variety of situations. The initial pedal travel could have been less. 

Priced between Rs 8.2 and Rs 11 lakh ex-showroom Delhi, the new S-Cross is priced significantly lower than the Hyundai Creta. Like the one that it replaces, it is practical and fun. The choice of just one engine may have an effect on its performance, the S-Cross nevertheless makes a practical family car that is at home in the city and in areas where higher ground clearance is a necessity. Lacking the appeal of an SUV despite the changes, the pricing of the S-Class is attractive. 

Pros: Practical, price, space, comfort
Cons: Estate-ish rather than SUV-ish even after the facelift

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