Maruti Suzuki S-Cross Review: First Drive
Back in 2014, Maruti Suzuki displayed this interesting looking vehicle at the Auto Expo in Delhi. Tagged as the company’s first step in the crossover territory, it left quite an impact with the audience to make it one of the most highly anticipated launches to happen this year.
It has been a sudden rise to popularity for the crossover types with the Ford EcoSport, Hyundai i20 Active, Toyota Etios Cross and many others sitting firmly in this range. While some appear to have truly understood this type, others just wanted a share of the pie as they entered with half baked versions.
Putting feet in muddy waters is the brand new Maruti Suzuki S-Cross, which is not a car with angry looks and cladding; instead, is a lot better than what you would expect it to be. It has a bucket full list of features, comes with a powerful diesel motor and has a branding for which the entire country vouches for. Will this ‘Premium Crossover’ challenge the set expectations? We find out.
It has been more than a year since I last saw the S-Cross at the Expo. Agreeably, it looks distinct from all other Maruti Suzuki cars. The overall appeal of the S-Cross will attract those looking for a subtle yet adventurous looking car with distinguishing raw elements setting them apart from daily commuters.
It is not official but all the new generation cars from Maruti Suzuki sport a similar design language as seen with the similarly style mono design front nose, also seen on the Ciaz. To make it feel more premium with a conventional approach, the radiator grille gets a twin slat chrome garnish with large sweepback headlamps. Also, to be seen on top end variants are LED position lamps along with HID projector lights. The fog lamp housing gets chrome surround with aluminium finished lower sump guard under the bumper.
There are strong muscular contours on the front hood with a stronger belt line seen along its length. Just above the front wheel arch, there is a slight flair which rises all the way before meeting the tail lamps. It is impressive to see that Maruti Suzuki has gone easy with claddings, unlike on others which look to be desperately screaming about their crossover belonging. Bright roof rails, larger front window paired with a compact rear section and blackened pillars give it a nice side profile.
It gets 205/50 R16 tyres with an optional solid design alloy wheels, which could have looked better with a multi spoke design. In terms of dimensions, the S-Cross measures 4300mm long, 1765mm wide and 1590mm tall with roof rails. This makes it more spacious than conventional offerings like the Toyota Etios Cross, Volkswagen Cross Polo and even the Hyundai i20 Active. It is also longer than the Ford EcoSport with a grander wheelbase at 2600mm.
The tail boot gets split combination tail lamps with one half on the lid. There is a large pocket for the registration plate on the tail door. The semi cladding on the lower half is continued on the rear too with the lower section of the bumper finished in matte. The bright bash plate concludes the design neatly with a nearly invisible exhaust pipe.
Things inside leave a better impact as Maruti Suzuki has opted for more premium and upmarket trims and materials. It has an all black theme and looks in league with the Ciaz. Honestly, the Indian car major has come a long way from offering purely functional interiors to now making one with more appeal.
It is the front dashboard which has got a lot more welcoming than before with its neat detailing. I do prefer a mix of beige and black but in this one, the all black makes perfect sense. The leather wrapped multi-function steering wheel carries buttons to fiddle with telephony, volume and cruise control. It also offers an impressive grip and has rake and reach adjustment. Looking beyond the steering wheel, the new instrument binnacle feels good with blue rings and an expressive multi information screen placed in between.
The front dashboard gets a premium layer of textured soft touch plastic on the central panel. The AC vents and the central smart play system get a silver highlight around them; only in the premium variants. The touchscreen infotainment system is one of the best in the segment as it has a high resolution screen, easy to operate and has convenient options to choose from. The user can click from an array of windows to shuffle between music, phone and navigation. The screen also doubles up as a rear park view.
On the central console, there are small utility pockets. There is a larger recess exactly under the AC controls and other small cubby holes placed around the handbrake. The central rift gets multiple silver highlights running around the gear shift lever, which again gets a leather jacket below its shifter neck. To aid long distance commutes, there is a central armrest which also has storage space underneath.
It is a crossover which is loosely based on a sedan; the shorter height is a proof of it. The same, however, is not a hindrance for those whose head lie above the average zone. You will also not find yourself rubbing shoulders with the ones seated beside, a good thing again. The seats, only in the Alpha variant, come in leather and are cushioned very well. They aren’t very comfy but at the same time won’t make you crib about it.
The under thigh support is neat and the front driver seat also gets manual height adjustment. Get yourself seated in the rear seat and you would notice the ample space around. There are magazine pockets behind front seats and twin cup holders on the foldable rear armrest. Litre class container sections can be seen on door panels. The boot space can be upgraded from 353 litres to 810 litres by suitably adjusting the rear seat position.
They do make hatchbacks and sedans like a daily affair but in the past they have made some impressive machines for enthusiasts like the Gypsy, Zen and the Grand Vitara, all of which are known to kick rally dust in the best way possible. With the S-Cross, they want to get the same set of audience back only this time, they wish to maintain a balance between performance and comfort.
Surprisingly, there is no petrol motor in the S-Cross, atleast not when it makes an official entry. There are two sets of diesel motors to push this premium crossover across varied conditions. The DDiS 200 1.3-litre engine, which powers cars in different tunes ranging from Zest to Ciaz, is for the urban centric clientele who would occasionally set feet on highways. It makes 89bhp and 200Nm of torque and comes with a 5-speed manual transmission.
It is their new motor which will make headlines and also possibly find a way in new gen cars too. The DDiS 320 is a 1.6-litre diesel engine making 118bhp and 320Nm of torque. These numbers are greater than many others selling in the same range. It comes with a 6-speed manual transmission, something of a quintessential for highway driving.
The ride height isn’t tall; still it manages to give a decent judgement with a wide front windshield and the right driver seat position. Unless, you are driving a lower variant, the Zeta and Alpha variants get electric Start/Stop button much like other mainstream premium offerings.
At idling, the engine revs at a little less than 1000 rpm and has a refined note. The turbo lag at lower range poses a minor issue in tight traffic conditions. Shift the manual stick to 1st and it takes a bit to flex until it crosses 1700 rpm where lies the mid-range, which also happens to be its peak performance zone. It is exactly at this point where you realise the worth of 320Nm of torque.
Ride on the throttle and the delivery only gets better from this point. The shift quality could have been better; nonetheless, it does a fine job of getting the right power at the right point. The higher torque also acts as a better aid on highways, totally defending the need of shifting to lower gears to reach higher speeds. The steering needs constant correction as it feels lighter.
There is no awkwardness even if a sudden turn is thrown at it and the reason for this are the spruced up suspensions and all wheel disc brakes. They suspension setup do a fantastic job of cancelling the differences experienced from the surface, keeping the cabin completely isolated, also resulting in lower NVH levels.
One more thing which we think can really change the vehicle dynamics are a better set of tyres as the existing ones aren’t that great in gripping the road. Otherwise, with a ride setup like that, there is no stopping the S-Cross on any surface. Its swift mannerism also acts as a boon in city driving as it feels light footed while dodging traffic. It might not be quick from standstill but has enough potential to pull out from tricky tight spots. This very motor takes 11.3 seconds to reach a speed of 100kmph, speaking volumes of its performance.
|Power in PS/RPM||118 / 3750||89 / 4000|
|Torque in Nm/RPM||320 / 1750||200 / 1750|
|Gears||6 - MT||5 - MT|
|Wheel base mm||2600||2600|
|Kerb Weight in Kg||1250 - 1275||1180 - 1205|
|Ground clearance mm||180||180|
|Fuel tank capacity L||NA||NA|
|Tyre Spec||205 / 60 R16||206 / 60 R16|
|Features - DDiS 320||Delta||Zeta||Alpha|
|LED Position Lamps||No||No||Yes|
|Leather Seat Upholstery||No||No||Yes|
|Engine Push Start / Stop||No||Yes||Yes|
|Cruise Control System||No||Yes||Yes|
|Reclining Rear Seat||No||Yes||Yes|
|Rear Armrest Cup Holder||No||Yes||Yes|
|Automatic Climate Control||No||Yes||Yes|
|Electrically Adjustable ORVMs||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Smartplay Infotainment System||No||Yes||Yes|
|Anti Theft Security System||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Front Disc Brake||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Rear Disc Brake||Yes||Yes||Yes|
Competition All Specs
|Variant||Zeta||1.4 SX||Titanium 1.5 TDCi (Opt)|
|Power in PS/RPM||118 / 3750||89 / 4000||89 / 3750|
|Torque in Nm/RPM||320 / 1750||220 / 1500||204 / 2000|
|Gears||6 - MT||6 - MT||5 - MT|
|Wheel base mm||2600||2570||2520|
|Kerb Weight in Kg||1250 - 1275||NA||1290|
|Ground clearance mm||180||190||200|
|Fuel tank capacity L||NA||45||52|
|Tyre Spec||205 / 60 R16||195 / 55 R16||205 / 60 R16|
Let’s take a deep dive at some of its premium features which include rain sensing auto wipers, auto headlights, Rear Park assist with camera, reclining seats, all wheel disc brakes with ABS, Dual side air bags, smartplay infotainment system and many more... meaning that Maruti Suzuki is not taking any chances with their premium crossover. They have filled it with features to the brim.
Styling remains a subjective affair but there surely exists a class who would choose to be seen in something unfamiliarly unique. The DDiS 320 is high on torque and is also high on efficiency at 22.7 kmpl while the lower spec DDiS 200 delivers higher mileage at 23.65kmpl (ARAI).
Now there has been constant chatter about how does the Indian mass car maker treat its premium consumers differently from those buying the regular set. It is the NEXA line of niche outlets catering to only high end products, which will take the post sales experience to the next level. This is no marketing gimmicks as they have already hired people from the hospitality and aviation industry, to ensure first class treatment to its select customers. New age equipment, polished people with gentle mannerism, google glass to experience their offerings, relationship managers and what not. It is definitely a giant leap in the right direction.