Maruti Suzuki S Cross – Jack of All Trades

Maruti Suzuki S Cross – Jack of All Trades

February 19, 2021 / 0 Comments / 37 / ROAD TEST REVIEWS
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The Maruti Suzuki S-Cross made its debut in the Indian market in 2015. Back then, it was offered two engine options – both types of diesel. The first being the tried and tested 1.3-litre DDiS unit and the second was the more powerful and fun-to-drive 1.6-litre DDiS unit enthusiasts to date. The 1.6-litre version found few takers over the years and became extinct soon enough owing to lukewarm market response, the S-Cross has only managed mixed responses over the course of these several years and still remains under-rated as the segment truly lacks a potent premium crossover. If there’s something that ticks most of the boxes right, it’s the robust-service network. 

Pros:

  • Solid build & good quality, inside out. Panel gaps are minimum especially in the sensitive areas where the metal meets the plastic cladding
  • Punchy 1.5L petrol offers great driveability in terms of responsiveness & Efficiency
  • Mature ride & handling package.  Feels extremely planted at triple-digit speeds
  • Practical interiors, spacious cabin and supportive seats,  loads of space in the first row
  • Features such as LED headlamps, cruise control, auto headlamps & wipers etc.
  • Maruti’s excellent after-sales support network,  massive coverage in the tier-2 and tier 3 cities

Cons:

  • No diesel option! Maruti’s BS6 1.5L diesel engine is still some time away
  • Unappealing styling. Looks like a big hatchback (not a crossover / SUV). Is quite old too, Maruti will have to up the game of S cross to stay competitive in the segment
  • Sunroof, wireless charger and other features like air purifier (which the competition offers) are sorely missed
  •  Although the boot is satisfactory it’s not big enough for a car of this size
  • Steering feedback is mediocre, could have weighed up better with speed

Exterior

The front end on the SCross comes with the bold looking 10 vertical slats engulfed in chrome. The headlights have received an update in the facelift. The sharp-looking crystalline headlights get a lot of busy elements and come with projector beams and DRL’s as well. The front bumpers come with nice blending black portions that run across the lower half of the bumper and on the air dam. The bumpers also get a faux skid plate in the silver-grey finish along with round fog lamps that add essence to the SUV-like front fascia.The side profile also remains the same with blacked-out window frames and door-mounted wing mirrors with LED turn lights.

The wheel arches come with protector inserts and the wheels are wrapped in 16 inches of rubber. The roof also comes with real metal roof rails giving that much-needed Crossover look. The rear profile also remains unchanged with the crisp looking LED tail lamps and the rear bumper with the integrated silver faux skid plate completing the rugged look at the rear. The boot lid comes with the Smart HYBRID badging on it, which IMO looks louder than what it does. The S cross certainly looks very butchy and shouts masculine. Sadly, the competition has got fierce with time and this is only something to worry about for the homegrown manufacturer. A bit of splash on the exteriors is the need of the hour.

Interior

The best part about getting into the S-Cross is that you can just walk into it. It’s neither as high as SUVs nor as low sedans or hatchbacks. The seats are comfortable and the low dash means very good visibility. The fit and finish are quite good, the cabin is one of the roomiest in the segment  If you’re familiar with the S-Cross, you’ll notice there aren’t too many changes on the inside. The S-Cross petrol gets the updated SmartPlay screen interface, with its improved user experience. The dashboard, dials and everything else in the cabin is just the way it has been since its inception. If there’s something the Millenials might crib about, is the absence of a sunroof. While the segment is upping the game with a panoramic sunroof, Maruti should have given a serious thought in plonking a conventional sunroof at least. 

While it’s a clean dashboard layout with the big 7-inch screen, the design layout looks a little dated. What also does not help is the all-black layout with no dual-tone colours. The plenty of chrome surround touches across the dash help in breaking the monotony of the design. Quality of plastics is acceptable and nothing to complain about. The S-Cross also has one of the most comfortable rear seats in its class. There’s plenty of legroom, The under-thigh support is good and what makes sitting in the rear even better is that the backrest is nicely angled and can even be reclined by a small amount. The rear passengers, adults or kids should not complain much about long-distance journeys. However, you don’t have AC vents in the rear, and there are no USB or 12-volt sockets to help you charge your devices. While we could still live with the absence of USB charging ports, our tropical summers will crave AC vents. The reason being the glasshouse of the car is quite big and it actually takes quite some time for the cool air to traverse all the way to the rear of the cabin. 

Drive

The K15 naturally-aspirated petrol engine is quite a versatile unit. Along with other chief cars from the Maruti Suzuki stable in our country,  including the widely-popular Brezza in our markets, it can now be found under the hood of the new S-Cross. In terms of power, the 1.5L NA engine develops 105bhp and 138Nm of peak torque. It’s mated to either a 5-speed manual or the easy-going 4-speed automatic torque converter.  While the power figure is higher, it is of no match to some of the modern turbo-petrol in the segment – like the segment-leader Kicks or the South Korean brothers! Customers will also have to forget that characteristic mid-range punch and excellent fuel efficiency of the old S-Cross diesel. The engine fires up with very little noise and without transmitting any vibrations to the cabin, there’s a neatly tucked in start-stop button that should help you in this case. At idle, it is silent. Press the clutch and you’ll find that it is not as light as that of the Ciaz, but is still friendly enough. Thankfully, the travel of the clutch is fairly limited and it’s nothing much to complain about. The gear shifter is light & smooth to use as well. The throws are short and crisp, something that bought a grin on our face every single time. Release the clutch gradually and the car moves forward without any throttle input. You can even pull away from a standstill in 2nd gear if you plan to get ambitious with the throttle input. Throttle response is quite satisfactory. Power comes in smooth & seamless. Out on the open road, the car feels adequately quick, but far from being really f-a-s-t. Simply no comparison to the turbo-petrol of the competition. Power delivery is linear and there is enough performance The S-Cross is more suited to a sedate driving style. Drive it around the town and you would accept that it’s not tailored for an enthusiast, rather meant for someone aspiring to have an extremely spacious crossover in their garage. Maruti appears to have shortened the gearing for the heavier S-Cross. Coming to NVH levels, the engine is silent while idling and acceptably refined at low revs. However, it is audible above 2,500 rpm. You can always hear the motor when you are accelerating. It starts getting loud post 3,500 rpm, and a lot more so after 4,500 rpm. The S cross is definitely not the car that will push you back seat.

Ride and Handling

The ride quality feels premium with good suspension tuning, we drove the car on bad roads of Bangalore and some real bad potholes but the S-Cross just glided through them with a broad smile. Also, the ground clearance of 180mm helps matters on driving on bad roads or big speed breakers to a large extent. As mentioned the Smart Hybrid system works flawlessly and so does the Auto Start-Stop function. The in-cabin comfort level is very good for the front and rear passengers both. The driver getting the best and most commanding view of the road ahead. The ride quality is very good with a premium drive to feel. The S-cross would definitely be one of the strongest contenders for our cross-country drives in twists and turns of one of the infinite ghats of Karnataka, not because it is the most spirited cars to drive there, but the car feels extremely planted with negligible body roll when it is being driven at triple-digit speeds in the hairpin bends. 

Smart hybrid

To make up for the outgoing diesel engine’s higher fuel efficiency and torque, the Maruti Suzuki S Cross petrol gets a technology called the Smart Hybrid. It has various fuel-saving features, such as the engine stops automatically when idling, and has a lithium-ion battery that assists engine power. Maruti tries to pay a lot of attention to this by opting-in for a dedicated badge at the rear of the car. The smart hybrid also assists in increasing the torque when needed.  

Safety kit

The Maruti Suzuki S Cross comes loaded with a long list of safety equipment which includes standard front dual airbags, ABS with EBD, ISOFIX child seat anchorages, pedestrian protection compliance, full-frontal, front offset and side-impact compliance, auto headlamps, auto wipers, Hill hold (AT trim), auto-dimming IRVM to name a few. Glad to see manufacturers paying extra heed to prioritise safety in the era which is dominated by endless feature list which falls prey to the limited usability, practicality and convenience. 

Verdict

The S-Cross not only gets a new compliant engine but also gets a lot of features included on the list. It’s the car that craves for the allrounder tag. It’s The car has always been a great option in its class in terms of performance, safety and looks and now gets better. The S-Cross 1.5L Petrol is super fun to drive and delivers an excellent overall drive feel too. Starting at Rs. 8.39 Lakh for the Sigma MT trims this becomes a very good option if you are out there looking for a sturdy and proven Crossover also making it an attractive proposition for the price-conscious buyer and those looking at a practical buy for daily commutes can keep it high on the list of cars to consider.

What truly impressed us was the sturdy built quality which takes a break from the stereotypes of Maruti’s association with the average built quality. Backed by Nexa, the post-sales service is also excellent. But if you are looking for an engaging drive with features aplenty, the Maruti Suzuki S-Cross is likely to fall short. Especially when you expect the driving experience to be in sync with some of the latest offerings from Europe. That said, the S-cross still remains one of the most under-rated cars in the country, especially when you realise the real estate you get in return for every single penny invested in it. 

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