It was back in 2015 that Maruti Suzuki first introduced their premium crossover S-Cross for the Indian market. It was the first car to be sold through the Nexa dealerships. Due to the onslaught of SUVs in the Indian market, the S-Cross didn’t really make a mark in sales numbers. It was a big deal then, and still is for being a premium offering from the carmaker. Today in 2017, the crossover employs the brand’s Smart Hybrid technology and has gone through a cosmetic makeover. It boasts of a host of styling updates and features, thus adding to its premium quotient. Maruti Suzuki is now hoping to grab a decent chunk of sales in this segment. But does this model have the mettle and the elements to bring back the charm? We found out by taking the S-Cross for a drive in the picturesque Udaipur.
The S-Cross had the right proportions for a crossover and those looks are now enhanced with this upgraded model. The fascia sports the most significant changes with a bold new redesign. The grille now comes with a thick chrome surround and vertical slats in between. I’m not fond of flashy things, but many Indians love chrome on their cars for that bling factor. And Maruti Suzuki seems to have done just about the right thing as many people in Udaipur appreciated this revamp.
There are redesigned headlamps too with projectors and LED DRLs. Furthermore, the bonnet and front bumper are now chiseled to give the S-Cross a muscular look. The silhouette of the car remains the same, but the car rides on new two-tone machine-finished alloy wheels shod with wider 215/60 R16 tyres, up from the previous 205/60 R16. At the rear, the crossover sports sleeker looking LED tail lamps.
There aren’t many noticeable changes inside the cabin. And not that there was a serious requirement in the first place. Still, the easy-to-use touch screen system now gets Android Auto in addition to Apple CarPlay. A good addition for the tech-savvy potential buyers. Then, the instrument cluster gets an SHVS display, pointing at the hybrid technology under the hood. There’s also a new engine auto start-stop cancel switch. And, visibly even if everything almost remains the same, there are a few touch ups made to add to the premium feel.
This includes chrome accents instead of silver ones and leather finish on the driver arm rest and door pads. This top-spec Alpha trim continues to get features like leather seats, soft-feel material on the dashboard, cruise control, automatic climate control, keyless go etc. among other goodies. The Nexa shield ensures passenger safety with dual front airbags, ABS with EBD and many more impact compliant safety features standard across the range.
The S-Cross continues to provide a good frontal visibility and has a reasonably spacious cabin with comfortable seats providing adequate support. This continues with the airy space in the second row thanks to the abundant shoulder room sufficient for three adults as well. There’s good legroom too, but headroom might be a little tight for tall occupants.
Also, we would have loved it if the carmaker could have added rear AC vents this time. Nonetheless, the 353-litre boot-space with numerous adjustments with the 60:40 split rear seat makes for a big space to eat up all kinds of luggage. Two big bags and a few backpacks can be easily accommodated.
This updated model of the Maruti S-Cross is now only available with the tried and tested 1.3-litre DDiS (Fiat multijet) diesel mill. The 1.6-litre diesel unit has been discontinued from the crossover’s powertrain options. However, the current 1.3-litre motor now comes with the Smart Hybrid Vehicle from Suzuki (SHVS) technology cutting down on carbon emissions. This ‘DDiS 200’ powerplant, as the name suggests, produces a substantial 200Nm of peak torque at 1,750rpm and has maximum power of 89bhp at 4,000rpm. It now features a start-stop system, brake energy regeneration and also uses an Integrated Starter Generator motor to offer a mild torque assist function.
The engine still has the typical diesel clatter, which becomes loud enough at high revs. Thankfully, it is nicely mellowed down by the good cabin insulation. Also this mill isn’t as sprightly as the earlier 1.6, but doesn’t show lethargy too. Sure there is still a lag below 1,500rpm, but like all these Fiat-sourced Multijet engines, this one has good pulling power as the turbo spools up post 2,000rpm. The engine doesn’t feel like losing steam even till 5,000rpm, thus providing an adequate mid-range. This mill comes mated to a five-speed manual gearbox. And when in the right gear, the engine packs a nice punch. Even so, gearshifts could have been smoother, and the clutch – lighter, for a more enjoyable experience.
Indians prefer buying an SUV these days, mostly due to the uneven road conditions. So Maruti Suzuki has also made sure on optimising the S-Cross’ McPherson struts and torsion beam coil spring suspension according to such road conditions. As a result, the S-Cross offers a comfortable ride even on rough tarmac and over small potholes. Sure there is side-to-side movement of passengers at slow speeds, but the damping settings are well adjusted to take such paths with ease. Still the suspension is a bit towards the firmer side, so sharper potholes do sent a jolt into the cabin. On the brighter side, this helps the S-Cross remain flat around corners and makes it stable at higher speeds. But then again, even if the steering has a good feedback, it would have been a delight if it would have been more direct. Nonetheless, the wider 215-section high profile JK tyres stick to the road like a slug and boost confidence to go around bends faster. The sure-footed crossover has all disc brakes with remarkable bite. Thanks to this combination, the S-Cross didn’t lose its poise even under hard braking.
|Engine Capacity||1.3 - litre|
|Max. Power (bhp@rpm)||89bhp @ 4000rpm|
|Max. torque (Nm@rpm)||200Nm @ 1,750rpm|
|Fuel Capacity (in litres)||48|
|Tyre size||215/60 R16|
|Dual airbags and ABS||Yes|
|16-inch machined alloy wheels||Yes|
|Projector headlamps with DRLs||Yes|
|Smart hybrid technology||Yes|
|Automatic climate control and cruise control||Yes|
|Touch screen infotainment system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay||Yes|
Competition All Specs
|Max. Power (bhp@rpm)||89bhp @ 4000rpm||89bhp @ 4000rpm|
|Max. torque (Nm@rpm)||200Nm @ 1,750rpm||224Nm @ 1500rpm|
|Fuel Capacity (in litres)||48||60|
|Tyre size||215/60 R16||205/65 R16|
The S-Cross wasn’t one of the better-looking cars from its segment. Now, with the updates Maruti Suzuki has addressed that issue. Still if I was to nit-pick, I would say the S-Cross can have a more refined engine. Some components inside the cabin, especially the lower sections, could get better plastics for such a premium vehicle. Otherwise, the crossover now offers an interesting combination of looks, space, comfort, features and performance.
Maruti Suzuki hasn’t announce the prices yet, but we expect it to continue to compete against the Hyundai Creta, Ford EcoSport, Renault Duster and the recently launched Tata Nexon too. And if priced competitively, it can pose a very formidable challenge to its competitors. It can eventually then create a bigger space for itself in the growing SUV/crossover segment in the Indian car market.
Photos By Ninad Ambre